This week is National Nursing Week and the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife! Let us all take a moment to reflect on and thank our nurses, our midwives in our community and beyond for their steadfast commitment and professional dedication to making the lives of their patients better at every turn. They truly are health care heroes and should be treated like that every day of the year.
There are some amazing things happening in our community right now. While we are still facing difficult days ahead due to COVID-19, I think it is vital that we continue to highlight as much good as possible.
First, I want to tell you about the 100 Vaughan Road Tenants Association. This association was formed a few years back in response to an Above the Guideline Increase that had been proposed in their building. The Tenants Association organized and were able to succeed in their efforts to reduce the AGI. But they didn’t stop there – they kept building their capacity and the support network in their building. Now, they are one of the most responsive tenant associations in our community and work to not only uphold tenant’s rights in their own building – but also – support other tenant associations in the area.
This past week, they took the extraordinary step of delivering cloth masks to 481 Vaughan Road so that they could organize safely in their building, without breaking any physical distance protocols. I want to send my most sincere thanks to the leadership of the 100 Vaughan Road Tenants Association and Bill Worrell for helping co-ordinate this incredible work – and I would encourage anyone who is interested in keeping up with them, to follow them on Twitter. As we know cloth masks do not make you immune to COVID-19 but they are a great aid in helping you keep germs and saliva particles from spreading to those around you during your interactions (while practicing physical distancing of course).
Coming up later this week, we are also going to see the launch of a community food table. A huge #StPaulsShoutOut to community member Joanne Vannicola for working with community to bring this to fruition! This is going to be a table set up for six hours outside St. Matthew’s Church where members of our community are encouraged to swing by and drop off food – and anyone who is in need can also come by and pick up food for free. This is such a simple, yet beautiful program that’s been organized in our neighbourhood – and I couldn’t be more proud.
For full details on this program – please look in the “Free Food Table” section by scrolling down.
This week also marked my return to the Ontario Legislative Assembly. For those who don’t know, the Legislature will be sitting twice a week – in a limited capacity – into early June.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak twice in the Legislature.
First, I spoke about the plight of small businesses in our community who are suffering right now and have still not been offered the support that they actually need to be able to survive. We are still a long way from returning to normal and it continues to be unacceptable that we have not yet seen a comprehensive support package from our provincial government for small business owners. As I have heard over and over and over again speaking to countless business owners loans and deferrals are NOT enough for our small business owners.
They want RENT RELIEF and they need it now!
The Ontario NDP put forward the Save Main Street plan weeks ago – that proposed to supply commercial tenants with a rent subsidy of 75% (up to $10,000/mo) as well as putting a freeze on utility payments and more.
We desperately need action on this file and the longer we wait – the worse it gets and the more likely we are to see our beloved businesses, our restaurants our non-profits shutter. The provincial government cannot in good conscience sit back and watch this happen. We will continue to fight for our businesses.
A survey conducted by Toronto BIAs has shown that 63% of commercial tenants had had trouble paying their May rent. And while the federal government has put forward the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program (CECRA) – 60% of commercial tenants believe that their landlords will not be applying for the program.
We are at great risk of losing many of our local businesses right now and I am adding my voice to the call to #StopCommercialEvictions across Ontario.
Next, I asked a question in Question Period to the Premier about the dreadful conditions in many of our long-term care homes. I highlighted what’s happening in Meighen Manor – where 42 residents have died, and many more residents and staff have tested positive for COVID-19. The stories that I have heard about the under-staffing in the community are heartbreaking and unacceptable.
I want to give a special THANK YOU to the members of the Facebook Group: Support for Meighen Manor. They bound together as our community does and they have been fighting so hard to bring visibility to the plight of their loved ones and frontline health care workers at Meighen Manor. I am thankful to have been a small part of their mighty advocacy. I handed the Premier, the Minister for Long Term Care and the Minister for Health a letter I wrote demanding supports for Meighen Manor.
The Ontario government has since finally announced an emergency order to give the province authority to take over long-term care homes that are in desperate need of support. While this is a step in the right direction, it remains frustrating that the Ontario NDP has been calling on the government for weeks to take this step.
Finally, a solemn reminder to everyone that we are not out of the woods yet – and that means that we all must still share the responsibility of flattening the curve of COVID-19. That means that we need to keep our physical distance from one another, wash our hands regularly, and avoid unnecessary trips outside.
It also means checking in on those in need and making sure that we are all looking after our mental health as well.
Our deepest condolences go to London, ON nurse Brian Beattie - the first nurse in Ontario to die of COVID-19, and PSWs Leonard Rodriquez, Sharon Roberts, and Christine Mandegarian who have lost their lives to COVID-19. These were compassionate front line health care workers. We can never forget.
If you have a positive story from our community OR a virtual event you're hosting that you want amplified, please email us at JAndrew-CO@ndp.on.ca.
Birthday, Anniversary Greetings
During normal times, my office sends out congratulatory scrolls to folks across the riding to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and other milestones! While we're taking physical distancing measures, I will be continuing this digitally. If you have a birthday coming up in the family and you would like a special video message from me, please email us at JAndrew-CO@ndp.on.ca. And if you should decide to share your video on social media do tag us @JillsLastWord on Twitter and Jill Andrew - MPP, Toronto-St. Paul's on Facebook.
Calling Local Artists
If you are local artist, and you have a piece of work that you’ve been putting time into, we would love to share it with the community! We know that #ArtsSavesLives and minds especially during traumatic times. If you’re interested in sharing your art please email us at JAndrew-CO@ndp.on.ca
ALL art submitted MUST be accompanied by a short artists statement (50 words or less) to help contextualize the art. Additionally, there are no guarantees that submissions will be included in the newsletter. Thank you for sharing your work with us and our community."
Community Food Table
News and Updates
- Health Canada has authorized the first COVID-19 serological test, which will be used to detect COVID-19 antibodies and give scientists a better understanding of whether people who have already had the virus are immune.
- Post-secondary students can apply to the federal government's Emergency Student Benefit as of Friday -- the program has been criticized for not going far enough to help students.
- Doug Ford says the details of the province's first stage of reopening will be announced Thursday. Meanwhile, the province's top doctor said Ontario is not yet where it needs to be to start the economic recovery plan - the NDP has said that Ontario must ramp up testing before reopening businesses.
- The Ford government invoked an emergency provision that allows the province to step in to manage a long-term care home in crisis – but the government says it is not time to use it. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says the move should have come much sooner.
Here are some concerns the NDP is working on, and solutions we’re pushing for:
- The NDP provided evidence to counter the Ontario Health Minister's claim that long-term care facilities have cooperated with the government on implementing COVID-19 protections, stressing that court documents filed in a variety of lawsuits and legal challenges paint a very different picture.
- The NDP says Ontario's new emergency provision to allow the government to take over management of long-term care facilities in crisis is long overdue -- the NDP has been calling for a public, non-partisan inquiry into the crisis in long-term care, including into the role of for-profit homes.
- Ontario remains behind other jurisdictions on COVID-19 testing, a troubling reality as the province begins the process of reopening the economy.
Featured Art Submission
Sister Betty Lou Knox
In their own words:
On Day Two, I strolled by the birch trees near the statue of St. Joseph. Since then, I have been haunted by the image which is expressed in my painting. In the tree trunk, I saw a First Nations woman standing tall, with arms stretched skyward and her sad eyes cast down to the earth.
We lamented the suffering and rapid spread of COVID-19 throughout the world and spoke of the interconnectedness of all creation. Here I was, happy to be in the presence of a First Nations Water Carrier. As we talked about climate change and the urgency of protecting water, the words of Prime Minister Trudeau, medical and scientific experts echoed in my ears: “Wash your hands frequently, keep two meters apart, and stay at home.”
I thought of the lack of the basic human right to water experienced by so many people worldwide. And how is it that there are still areas in Canada where First Nations people lack clean water or live with boiled water alerts? It was good for us to share our concerns and hopes regarding water as well as questioning, “What is ‘the more’ we might be called to as a CSJ Blue Community?”
We wondered if this pandemic with its loss of life, job closures, safe distances, and creative new inventions might result in a change of attitude towards Climate Change which is linked to the health and sustainability of our planet.
I Thirst is my prayer for peace and unity as more countries dream and act together with our committed youth in discovering new ways to preserve and protect our Common Home.
Where to get updates on Coronavirus
For accurate information on COVID-19 - Public Health Agencies are the best sources.
Find them here:
Canadian Public Health
Public Health Ontario
Toronto Public Health
Other Key Contacts and Resources
MP Carolyn Bennett
City Councillor Josh Matlow
TDSB Trustee Shelley Laskin
TCDSB Trustee Norm Di Pasquale
Good Neighbour Project
Nia Centre for the Arts
Ontario Ministry of Health
Feed the Frontlines
Women 4 Us
Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres
Ontario Arts Council
SPRINT Senior Care
Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts
Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies
Toronto Community Housing
You can also find daily updates on my website