While the weather keeps getting better and better, I need to urge you to maintain your caution, as we are beginning to see concerning trends appear in Ontario.
We are currently in phase one of the reopening plan, which means that we are seeing more foot traffic in our communities, and almost inevitably, more potential community exposure to COVID-19. Along with that, we are seeing an increase in positive tests this week across Ontario, despite the fact that the number of tests being performed per day is falling. Searching less and finding more means that we are not keeping the curve flattened. These are the conditions that could lead not to a reopening, but a reclosing.
Without proper levels of testing, it is impossible for us to know exactly where we stand in combating COVID-19, and that’s a dangerous place to be. We all know of the economic pain that is currently being inflicted on our community, but if we don’t get this right the first time, a second wave of COVID-19 would likely be even worse.
So where does that leave us as a community?
It means that we need to be doubling down on our actions. Keeping our distance, limiting our trips outside (no matter how nice the weather is), and taking all the public health precautions that have been outlined for us. We cannot lose our focus now or fall into the trap of thinking that we’ve already put this thing behind us.
Our community is suffering another loss tonight as Dave’s… on St. Clair is closing their doors permanently. Liz Guerrier announced the closure in a message on their Facebook page. This loss stings hard for many in our community as Dave’s has become an incredible community space for so many in Toronto-St. Paul’s – and it’s going to be sorely missed by many. Dave’s closing is a sharp reminder of why we so desperately need the Ford government to be providing more supports to small businesses in Ontario. It’s absolutely unacceptable that we have not seen more comprehensive support for our business community.
Dave’s has been a second home for so many of us. I’m thinking about endless laughs, the burgers and oh man the pizza! Mostly important though were the people. Dave’s was community during the day and a great vibing spot at night (anyone who checked out a local musician there knows what I mean). Liz and her team served with heart and compassion and I for one will miss their spot – out spot – deeply.
For weeks now, we’ve been calling for the Ford government to take on our Save Mainstreet proposal, that would have included rent subsidies of 80% up to $10,000 per month and a freeze on all utility shut offs for small businesses. Sadly, the Ford government has not taken up this proposal.
COVID-19 has captured much of our attention currently, however I want to remind everyone of some of the months of significance that are happening right now. May is Asian Heritage Month, Jewish Heritage Month and South Asian Heritage Month, some of the many communities that make Toronto such a wonderfully diverse place.
It is important for us to always remember that in order for Ontario to be truly an equitable place, it needs to be an equitable place for all of us – so that means that we continue to advocate against any systems of oppression that make it difficult for some members of our community to access opportunities and resources.
The way that our community has stepped up in response to COVID-19 has been nothing short of extraordinary, and today I’m shining a light on Abigail Millar, who has made over 3500 masks since COVID-19 hit our community. Abigail has been working hard to support our neighbourhood with this PPE, and has been going out every night to cheer on the frontline workers who are keeping us all safe right now.
On behalf of our entire community, Abigail, thank you.
I also want to let everyone know about an amazing project that's started in the St. Clair West community through the Wychwood Barns Community Association. It's called the St. Clair West Oral History Project and they have many interviews with long time local residents and an incredible archive of photos as well. You can click here to see their website!
Finally today, I want to send out a reminder that tomorrow will be the second week of the community food table at St. Matthew’s Church (corner of Rushton and St. Clair Ave W). The food table is a space where you can come and pick up food for free if you are in need, or, if you’re able to donate food as well. The table is going to be open from 11am to 5pm, and I would encourage anyone who is going to stop by, to ensure that you are taking all physical distancing precautions.
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:
- Canada is looking at adopting a single contact tracing app that the federal government hopes will be adopted across the country, a measure to slow the spread of COVID-19.
- Some health experts warn that Canada is reopening too soon, with questions remaining about the source of community transmission of COVID-19, and - in Ontario and Quebec, especially - the numbers aren't where they should be. In Ontario, testing is down while the new cases have risen – despite saying he has been “all over” testing, Doug Ford is failing to hit targets.
- Today, Ontario saw the highest number of new cases in two weeks.
- Ontarians who receive disability payments say rising food costs and the provincial government’s claw back of extra income received from the federal CERB benefit is making it tougher to survive during the pandemic – Ontario NDP Social Services critic Lisa Gretzky has been calling on the Ford government to stop taking income from Ontarians who receive social assistance.
Here are some concerns the NDP is working on, and solutions we’re pushing for:
- Andrea Horwath called for a new testing regime in Ontario that includes systematic testing for essential workers and people returning to work, all congregate care settings, and mobile testing centres to begin random community testing.
- Ontario NDP Energy critic Peter Tabuns said Ontarians are only getting modest relief on their hydro bills after time-of-use electricity pricing was suspended during the pandemic. "Ford is falling miles short on his promise to bring down hydro bills by 12 per cent," MPP Tabuns said.
- NDP MPPs in Windsor-Essex urged the Ford government to dramatically increase testing and contact tracing in the regionincrease testing and contact tracing in the region, given Windsor-Essex's unique situation as a border community and manufacturing hub, plus the lack of local capacity for test processing.
Featured Art Submission
In their own words:
Kevin attended the Alberta College of Art and Ontario College of Art where he studied print making, experimental media, photography, communication arts and industrial design. His working career has led him into various fields of design, art directing, illustration, film production, and fine art painting. Kevin brings over four decades of practicing the principles of art to his recent works.