As we approach the weekend, I’d like to remind everyone of the importance of self-care and mental health breaks as best you can in difficult times. This pandemic has wreaked havoc on people's lives directly and indirectly. However, our community continues to show up for one another because that is the St. Paul’s way.
I want to extend a sincere welcome to new members of St. Paul’s who have been experiencing homelessness and have now found temporary homes in the Yonge and Eglinton area. I’m glad to see that the city has taken the step of finding accommodations that will enable these folks to live more safely in our city during COVID-19. Sadly, it has taken a pandemic for our government to take these measures to secure these homes, and it is my sincere desire that we maintain this sense of urgency when it comes to the housing crisis long after COVID-19.
Our community continues to step up in this time of crisis to support our most vulnerable, and it couldn’t make me more proud. One story we heard this week was from CANO Restaurant, who took the incredible step of donating 250 meals to The Stop Community Food Centre. I want to extend my thanks to everyone at CANO for this donation. Actions like these show the most beautiful nature of our community.
In the spirit of giving, I want to magnify a call out from one of our local foodbanks. The Beeton Cupboard Food Bank at St. Michael and All Angels church has put the word out that they are in need of toiletries right now to keep their shelves stocked. That means, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, conditioner, and toilet paper are all needed. If you are able to donate, I would encourage you to do so by dropping by their site at 611 St. Clair Ave West.
One thing that has become abundantly clear in the last few weeks is the way that women have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
The latest job numbers released this week revealed that unemployment is surging and the majority of those who have lost their work are women. In Ontario, 188,000 women over 25 have lost their jobs since January. Further, those who have been forced to rely on food banks or payday loans have been 60% women. Beyond that, during this pandemic, women, especially Black and racialized women are disproportionately the ones on the frontlines, incurring the most risk of contact with COVID-19.
As we move forward, it’s important that we keep these facts in the forefront of our minds. Especially, when we are now hearing that the Ford government is considering changing a directive that made access to N95 masks and other PPE mandatory for those on the frontlines. This move is unacceptable from the Ford government and I will be fighting to make sure that frontline workers maintain this access. Changes like this are dangerous, in a time when we must proceed with caution.
Next, I also want to acknowledge that today marks the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe (V-E) Day. Everyone should take some time today to remember the one million Canadians and Newfoundlanders who served in the Second World War, and the more than 45,000 women and men who lost their lives in the conflict. I want to express my solemn gratitude to everyone who served our country in the name of freedom and peace.
I am also issuing another reminder that we need to be listening carefully to our public health experts and following all of their guidance. That means that we all need to be washing our hands regularly, limiting our trips outside and checking in on those who need our support. I know the weather is getting better each day, but we still need to be maintaining our physical distance, so that we can flatten the curve further and get our community past COVID-19 as fast as possible.
Finally, I want to send everyone an invite to join me for another Facebook Live Town Hall! This time I will be co-hosting a town hall alongside my colleagues and fellow members of the Ontario NDP Black Caucus. You can tune in on my Facebook page on Monday May 11 at 7PM to watch!
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."
SEIU Hospital Appreciation Rally
Our frontline workers deserve the utmost support at this time, and that is why today I dropped by Queen’s Park to stand with frontline healthcare workers in SEIU’s Hospital Appreciation Rally. It was an incredible opportunity for us to show our appreciation for healthcare workers and express my solidarity with them.
I am excited to announce that I will be hosting the NDP Black Caucus Digital Town Hall on Monday May 11, at 7PM! I will be joined by my Black Caucus colleagues, Laura Mae Lindo, Kevin Yarde, Faisal Hassan, Rima Berns-McGown.
Click here to RSVP on Facebook!
Even without a Facebook account, you can watch the stream by going to www.facebook.com/JillAndrewTO on Monday at 7PM!
- Statistics Canada released the country's dismal job loss figures for the month of April.
- Canada will extend its emergency wage subsidy program past June - many businesses and labour groups say the federal government's commercial rent relief program will not help them.
- A union representing health care workers in long-term care says the Ontario government is looking at changing a directive that currently gives workers access to N95 masks, and that workers continue to be denied N95 masks in long-term care facilities. Andrea Horwath issued a statement saying that removing this directive is dangerous, and the Ford government should not withhold N95 from workers.
- Ontario's Finance Minister fielded questions about gaps in Canada's commercial rent relief program, and the province's failure to mandate a freeze on commercial evictions -- the NDP has been urging Doug Ford to freeze evictions and step up support for businesses struggling to survive.
Here are some concerns the NDP is working on, and solutions we’re pushing for:
- Andrea Horwath says it's dangerous and wrong for the Ford government to consider taking away health care workers' right to the proper PPE.
- In a press conference held today, Andrea Horwath said that Ontario will need an independent public inquiry into long-term care to assess how Ontario's pandemic response left long-term care homes so vulnerable, and examines the future of for-profit long-term care homes in Ontario.
- Andrea Horwath stressed that, as Ontario's job numbers reveal, women are bearing the brunt of the economic pain dished out by COVID-19. She again called on the Ford government to provide direct financial support to Ontarians in desperate need.
Here are some things we’re hearing from our community members:
- Despite the Ford government's claims that PPE is readily available to frontline workers, this poll shows that 87 per cent of health care staff reported not having access to the PPE they need.
Featured Art Submission
In their own words:
My work is motivated by a desire to spread joy, cultivate gratitude, and support the growth of inclusive and connected communities. I program and facilitate projects that empower people through creative engagement and increase representation of Toronto’s diverse population.
In 2017, I founded Womxn Paint, a street art jam celebrating the strength, resilience and diverse stories of womxn. As the initiative’s creative director, I have produced 75 murals by emerging and early career artists, facilitated an intergenerational community mural with residents in Rexdale, and co-facilitated a mural camp for young womxn.
In my murals, I work with bright colours and bold patterns to captivate people’s attention and fill them with delight. I am passionate about creating art that both aesthetically and psychologically enliven environments. This is what inspired me to start my ongoing SMILE project—since 2007 I have created SMILEs all over the world, including in Australia, Canada, Cuba, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, Singapore, Spain, The Netherlands, USA, and Vietnam.
Since physical distancing measures have come into place, my practice has experienced significant changes. Youth Paint Parkdale, the March break camp I programmed, was postponed. There are major question marks around all my summer mural projects. Like all people, covid19 has created an enormous amount of uncertainty in my life.
Art is how I create the world I want to live in. It's part of my ongoing exploration of how to live a good life, a question that is as important now as it has ever been. I continue to look to my practice as a space to ask questions, seek answers, share my findings and offer invitations to others to join me on the journey. In an effort to add more light and love to the world, I am using this time to create work that responds directly to the pandemic from a place of loving kindness, compassion and self love. I am painting love notes around my neighbourhood including a mural on a construction site on Osler Street. In March, I painted a physical distancing mural for the Parkdale Activity and Recreation Centre and the Parkdale Community Food Bank to help those lining up for meals and food follow safety protocols.
The uncertainty and fear surrounding this pandemic has brought anxiety to visit more regularly. I've been renegotiating my relationship with anxiety for over a decade, and I'm currently opening my toolkit of coping mechanisms many times daily. Anxiety is very future-oriented and takes us out of whatever is actually going on around us. I’m trying to use my art practice to ground me in the present moment and help me take it day by day. I am hand-cutting paper hearts and assembling them into colourful hanging strands that can be hung like rainbows in a window. They share love with passersby. I am selling them for $150—I donate $50 from each sale to Women's College Hospital.
You can see more of my work on my website and instagram.