I hope that you’ve had a restful long weekend – and as we continue to see the weather improve – I want to once again remind everyone that keeping your physical distance from one another is a vital part of continuing to flatten the COVID-19 curve. That means, keeping at least 6 feet apart, washing your hands frequently, and making sure to help out those in our community who are at the most risk. Wearing masks when venturing outside is also a good precaution.
Today is Personal Support Worker Day. We owe them an incredible thank you for all the work they've been doing around the clock in less than desirable circumstances to take care of loved ones across Ontario and in St. Paul's. They are heroes but they must be treated as such.
This is why I am so determined to keep advocating for them to have access to PPE especially the N95 surgical mask, for their pay to reflect their demanding work and this is why this Ontario government MUST commit to a publicly accountable, independent, non-partisan inquiry into the state of long-term care in Ontario.
During COVID-19, the failures of our government to properly fund and regulate long-term care in Ontario has been badly exposed. The stories that we have heard right here in our own community have been heartbreaking – and we need to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again. Key to ensuring that we do not make these same mistakes is understanding fully what went wrong this time.
That is why we need a full independent public inquiry into the long-term care system in Ontario.
Sadly, I must report that this evening, PC MPPs voted unanimously against Andrea Horwath’s motion to launch find-and-fix public inquiry. This unanimous vote against this NDP motion is salt in the wound for families grieving the loss of loved ones, and you can count on the Ontario NDP caucus to keep fighting for a real inquiry.
This weekend, I was glad to participate in two initiatives to help support vulnerable members of our community.
On Saturday, I joined Joanne Vannicola at the Community Food Table that she organized just outside St. Matthew’s church on St. Clair Ave W. Her concept was simple, set up a table where anyone can drop off food donations, and anyone else can come and take as much food as they need, for free - no questions asked. The first weekend of the table was a huge success with many members of our community coming by to receive and donate items. I was thrilled to join Joanne, this Saturday, and if you’re interested in stopping by, Joanne’s table will be up and running again next Saturday from 11am-5pm!
Next, I went to the temporary housing units that have been set up in our riding for those who have been experiencing homelessness across Toronto to drop off supplies. I joined the Republic Residents’ Association to deliver the supplies to the temporary housing. I want to send a shout out to the Republic Residents Association for their organizing and the businesses in our community who donated supplies as well. I would like to send a sincere thank you to:
- Loblaws, 101 Eglinton East
- Rexall Pharma Plus, Yonge-Eglinton Centre
- Shoppers Drug Mart, 759 Mt. Pleasant Rd
- Sobeys Urban Fresh, Yonge and Balliol
- Metro, Yonge-Eglinton Centre
Finally, I would like to send an enormous acknowledgement to the city staff on site who are working hard everyday to keep the facility up and running and supporting those who are now living there.
If you are interested in donating supplies, please contact our office at JAndrew-CO@ndp.on.ca.
Next, I want to shine a light on an incredible organization in our community. Skills for Change has been making a positive impact in Toronto-St. Paul’s for many years and in the last few days, their CEO, Surranna Sandy did an interview discussing how she leads a non-profit organization through this current pandemic, the challenges it has raised and how they’re adapting and modifying their services during COVID-19.
You can watch the interview here.
I am deeply grateful to Skills for Change, and I have lucky to have collaborated with them on many occasions. In late 2019, I was honoured to take part in their Humans of Skills for Change series – and you can read that here.
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."
Here are today’s new developments:
- As provinces slowly reopen, Canada's border with the United States will remain closed to all non-essential travel until, at least, June 21.
- The Ford government voted against an NDP motion, introduced in the Ontario legislature today, calling for a full, public and independent inquiry Ontario's long-term care system -- Ontario has ordered a commission into long-term care, which is essentially just a review, delivered in backrooms and lacking legislative teeth or public oversight. Several organizations, experts and unions are slamming Ford’s refusal to hold a public inquiry, including a union representing more than 60,000 frontline health care workers.
- In-person classes will not be resuming for Ontario public school students this school year, meaning students will learn from home until the end of June - NDP Education critic Marit Stiles said in a statement that as parents return to work and child care centres remain shut, the government needs a plan to step up support for families.
- Ontario extended its emergency order until Many 29, which means social gatherings are still limited to five people, and bars and restaurants will remain closed - the Ford government continues to ignore calls from small businesses owners to ban commercial evictions. The NDP has been echoing this call, pointing to a Toronto survey released this weekend showing that 63 per cent of businesses said they couldn't make May rent. Many small businesses are falling through the cracks in the federal rent support program, and the NDP is urging Doug Ford to help businesses.
- As Ontario starts to open up, the number of new cases of COVID-19 nudged upwards on Monday, following a dip over the weekend, and the number of tests done in recent days has plummeted - Andrea Horwath has repeatedly said that re-opening must come with more testing and contact tracing.
Here are some concerns the NDP is working on, and solutions we’re pushing for:
- The NDP will keep fighting for, a full, public and independent inquiry into Ontario's long-term care system .
- MPP Sol Mamakwa, NDP critic for Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation said the Ford government must consult with First Nations before allowing businesses to reopen in the North. Further, the government must do more to address the issues that make First Nations more vulnerable to COVID-19 in the first place, like overcrowded housing and lack of hospitals.
- NDP Auto Insurance critic Tom Rakocevic and Brampton North NDP MPP Kevin Yarde say Ford needs to step up and lower auto insurances rates. "Major auto insurers have admitted that driving and accidents are down - In Toronto alone, accidents are down by 74 per cent," Rakocevic said in a joint press release.
Featured Art Submission
In their own words: