This has been a difficult week for many of us, and I want to start today’s newsletter by acknowledging the life of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a Black woman who lost her life after an interaction with the Toronto Police.
There are a number of questions that need answering about this incident, but what we know now is that the Police were called to support Regis while she was in a mental health crisis. She is now dead.
Regis’ life mattered.
Today, I am calling for a full public investigation into the circumstances in which she lost her life. We need justice for Regis. As a society we must openly and courageously confront every institution where anti-Black racism and other systems of oppression and disproportionate wielding of power and privilege live and thrive. If one of us experiences injustice we have a humane responsibility to all feel it. We may feel it differently, we may have different connections to it but to ignore it, to neutralize it or to disassociate with it is to be on the side of those people and systems creating the very problem.
While I know that some of us are deeply enraged by what has been a string of Black death and Black murder locally and abroad, I must implore us - especially those of us who are Black - to maintain our focus. Our focus must be on answers and to holding our government officials at all levels to account for those answers. To our allies who are not Black now is your time to raise your voices, organize and commit to doing some of the heavy emotional work that Black and other racialized communities are all too often confronted with day in and day out. Allyship is about showing up. If you are not already familiar, the anthology Until We Are Free: Reflections of Black Lives Matter in Canada (2020) lays bare a remarkable foundation. You can call your local bookstore for availability.
This month we have also acknowledged Sexual Assault Prevention Month. Gender-based violence which occurs predominantly against women and non-binary folks does not take a holiday during a pandemic. It is its own pandemic. In fact we have seen increases in calls for help during COVID-19. Our earlier messages of 'stay home' have been incredibly difficult for those where home is not a safe place. I want to thank our local St.Paul's organization: the Canadian Women's Foundation for their ongoing work and their chronically of the gendered impacts of COVID-19 on women, girls, trans and non-binary lives. Please visit the foundation and learn more about their Signal For Help campaign and as always if someone is in need of immediate rehousing please connect with Shelter Safe.
As this weekend approaches, I want to remind everyone that regardless of the beautiful weather outside, we all need to remain responsible and maintain our physical distance from each other. The last thing we need is a repeat of last week at Trinity-Bellwoods park. COVID-19 is still among us, and only through a collective effort will we continue to reduce its spread and reduce the pressure on our health care system. We need to keep listening to our public health experts, who are telling us to keep washing our hands, keep at least two metres apart, and do what we can to support the most vulnerable among us.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has spread throughout Ontario, it has exposed the great shortcomings of our long-term care system. We’ve seen more than 80% of the deaths in Ontario in long-term care homes, and now we have heard from Doug Ford that he has a list of 19 “red” high-risk long-term care homes that the province is watching. While he has the list, he is refusing to make it public. Again, we are seeing a lack of transparency from this government, and it is leaving residents, families, staff, and local decision makers across Ontario very nervous.
The Ontario NDP is urging the premier to make this list publicly available for all to see. Transparency will allow local officials to make fully informed decisions regarding long-term care homes in their jurisdictions.
One of the challenges that plagued our society before COVID-19 was food insecurity, and since COVID-19 came to Toronto the problem has hardened. In response to this, our community has stepped up with the creation of a Community Food Table, where those with the means can donate goods, and those who are in need can take them for free - no questions asked.
I will discuss more next week but the first week of June is also Local Food Week in case you weren't aware. We have some 14 Community Gardens in St.Paul's and we are better for each and every one of them.
Our Community Food table will be up again tomorrow at St. Matthew’s United Church at Rushton and St. Clair from 11am-5pm. We are always looking for volunteers to help out too so if you're interested drop us a note anytime.
Finally today, I am sharing with you an inspiring project initiated by members of my Riding Association where we envision a brighter future for all of us. The project is called “Dare to Dream” and we’re inviting everyone to imagine a headline that you wish you could see at the top of the news. Imagine a world where we no longer need food banks, where we solve climate change, the day when I announce the return of rent control or the day we finally see pay equity and an end to the unconstitutional practice of carding and racial profiling enshrined in Ontario's law.
I know these days will come. We will achieve them together.
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."
News and Updates
Here are today’s new developments:
Canada announces funding for Indigenous communities to deal with the impact of COVID-19 and brace for a potential second wave.
Canada will look at possible family reunification for families separated by Canada-U.S. border closures.
Ontario says it is expanding its testing to include hot spots, certain workplaces and groups in congregate living setting. Ford refused set a new testing goal, and has failed for weeks to meet his own lowered targets. The Ontario NDP says firm timelines and transparent benchmarks are needed in order to open Ontario businesses safely. The NDP has spent weeks urging the Ford government to take ownership for its low testing numbers and expand its strategy beyond assessment centres, including with mobile testing that goes directly to people.
Ford changed his tune on the prospect of Ontario using a regional approach to ease restrictions on the economy, as data shows the Greater Toronto Area accounts for 65.8 per cent of the province’s COVID-19 cases – Horwath has called on Ford to immediately deploy additional resources to hot spots, including testing snd contact tracing resources, PPE and financial supports.
Here are some concerns the NDP is working on, and solutions we’re pushing for:
Horwath pressed the Ford government to give Ontarians a clearer timeline regarding the province’s expanded testing strategy, to include firm timelines and benchmarks that must be hit before more businesses are allowed to reopen. Amid weeks of abysmal testing numbers, the Ontario NDP has urged the Ford government to keep workers and communities safe by setting and keeping to clear timelines.
Yesterday, Andrea Horwath helped out with deliveries at the Ahmadiyya Youth Association’s “Neighborhood Helper” campaign.
Tomorrow morning, Horwath will hold a virtual roundtable on Facebook Live with education workers and parents, to discuss the challenges education workers, parents, students and teachers are facing during COVID-19.
Featured Art Submission