Community News Update - April 19, 2024

Dear Community, 

Passover Sameach to Jewish community members here in St. Paul's and beyond who are celebrating Passover with a seder on Monday night, or in whatever way they see fit. Passover celebrates the liberation of the ancestors of Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. Through the ritual of the seder we commemorate this story and celebrate its message about the need for freedom and hope for the future.

Queen's Park News

Equal Pay Day

Monday was Equal Pay Day in Ontario. Equal Pay Day symbolizes how far into 2024 the average woman must work to earn the same pay as their male counterparts did in 2023. In Ontario, the Gender Pay Gap continues to average around 32%. This has remained stagnant for decades. This is NOT okay. For Black women, Indigenous women, Arab women, and women with disabilities, the gap is even larger. In fact, for Black and Indigenous women the gap is 42%. Arab women are the lowest-paid women in Ontario’s labour market with a shocking 47% wage gap – that’s 53 cents for every dollar a man makes.

Ontario's public child care, education, and social and community service providers are mostly women and mainly racialized women. These women are overworked, undervalued, and underpaid. since 2018, this government has cut spending to social and community services by 12.1%. Even more concerning is that as of 2022, Ontario has spent the least amount on social and community services than any province in Canada. Investment in building strong social services can narrow the pay gap and advance gender equality, especially for the province's most vulnerable. The province must do better. On Monday, I rose in Question Period to demand answers from this government. Click here to watch my full question. 

Thank you to the Ontario Equal Pay Coalition for your advocacy. I am proud to support your calls!

Fund Our Schools

Community, it's no secret that public education is suffering under Ford's Conservatives. As many of you are aware, the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) is confronting a budget deficit that's a direct result of this government's underfunding of education in Ontario. Vital programs are under threat of being cut and only this government is to blame. The most vulnerable students in our communities are being impacted the most. Earlier this week I rose in the House to demand the Minister of Education listen to the calls of the TDSB and school boards across Ontario and put needed investment back into our schools. The Minister of Education says we need to put student achievement first. Well, in order to do this, schools need to be properly funded. 

Click here to watch the full statement. 

The TDSB will be hosting a series of Budget Town Halls. I encourage you to show up and have your voices heard!

Central Budget Town Hall

Date and Time: Tuesday, April 30, 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM

Hybrid: In Person in the TDSB Boardroom, 5050 Yonge Street Toronto, Ontario M2N 5N8; or Online via Zoom (link TBC).

Keffiyeh Ban at Queen's Park

Last month I was approached in my seat during Question Period by the Sargent-At-Arms staff inquiring as to whether my black and white scarf (a Diane von Furstenberg scarf) was a keffiyeh. I've worn this scarf since 2018 and countless times in the legislature without issue! Apparently, he'd been tipped off by a Conservative government member who asked him to come ask me. So much for transparency—this member could've asked me directly. 

I expressed my concerns to ONDP leadership and I am thankful that they took the due diligence to research this issue. As it turns out, other members and staff had worn keffiyehs in the past without being asked what it was or reprimanded for it. I am grateful to see the leader of the ONDP's response to this issue. We cannot allow a war to dictate whether people have the right to wear their religious, heritage or cultural attire in the legislature. We just cannot. 

Earlier this week, the ONDP Leader, Marit Stiles, put forward a Motion requesting unanimous consent of the legislature to reverse this ban. I supported this motion. Furthermore, ALL party leaders are against the pan including Conservative Premier Doug Ford. 

We must show up with our whole hearts for Jewish and Palestinian community locally here in St. Paul's and abroad and keep calling for a permanent ceasefire and the return of all the hostages. Furthermore, EVERYONE deserves the basic necessities of food and clean drinking water regardless of political strife. Complaining about someone's sartorial choices key to their heritage or in a respectful allyship with the heritage of another in Ontario of all places, one of the most diverse places in the world, takes us away from the most important thing: saving lives. This is a red herring that shouldn't be taking away time and energy from real issues and standing shoulder to shoulder with Jews and Palestinians demanding peace, social justice, and their right to self-determination. 

Click here to read the full letter from the leader and click here to add your name in solidarity.

Meeting with First Work

On Wednesday I met with delegates from First Work and Skills for Change at Queen's Park. Privatization and freeze in funding are threatening employment programs that help marginalized community members develop the skills they need to improve their lives. I look forward to hearing more about what can be done to support their work. 

Ontario Volunteer Service Awards

On Monday I was honoured to attend the Ontario Volunteer Service Awards at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). I'd like to send a special thank you and congratulations to all the volunteers who were recognized at the ceremony. Thank you for your service and dedication to our community. It was wonderful to see so many Toronto—St. Paul's locals being recognized for their service across so many different sectors. Thank you especially to our seniors who are spending their golden years giving back. It was an incredible honour to join these incredible individuals and their loved ones to recognize MANY years—in some cases, decades—of selfless service. 

These folks are helping to enrich countless lives here and abroad. Thank you!

Community Safety Meeting

On Wednesday, I joined members of our Forest Hill community in Toronto-St. Paul's for a discussion on community safety hosted by Toronto Police Service Division 53, which services the Forest Hill North and South among other parts of our community. Thank you to the Forest Hill BIA for sharing the invitation!

At the meeting we heard from TPS about break and enters, violence prevention and strategies for addressing car theft and home invasions. TPS also hear a diverse range of thoughts and suggestions from community members too, ranging from more police and police cars on duty and increased police budgets, to investing in private security to addressing alleged police corruption, contacting elected officials, and more! No matter our differences of opinions, EVERYONE deserve to be safe in their community day and night. This should be a given, but sadly, it's not. As I mentioned, we must fully address the issue before it makes its way to community doorsteps or car doors! Throwing more money at policing doesn't necessarily stop or decrease violence. We've got to take a whole person and whole community approach. After all, it takes an entire community. Thankful to hear tips from TPS and the community! Do you have ideas? I'd love to hear them!

How Does It Feel? Podcast with Honey Novick

I was in the studio last month with the wonderful Honey Novick as a guest on her new podcast, How Does It Feel? Thank you, Honey and producer Andrew Slowly of CrueTV for having me on the show. We had a wonderful conversation about poetry, body politics, and language. The episode preview is out now. Check it out here! The full episode will be out very soon. Stay tuned. 

Community Bulletin Board

Republic of Rathnelly Spring Clean-Up

The Republic of Rathnelly Residents' Association is hosting their annual neighbourhood clean-up. See their message below:

Meet at Hardy’s Corner (Rathnelly & McMaster) at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 20 for coffee and doughnuts. Please bring your rakes, leaf bags, garbage bags, gloves and an industrious spirit. You can choose to clean up the Pump Park, your lane, your street, a parkette, the rail tracks -- anything that is bugging you that you’d like to see look better. Spring clean-up is, for many, one of the nicest events of the year because it shows we can work together as a community to make things better for everyone. We hope you will join us.

It's a great opportunity for any high school students to earn some of their required community service hours -- RARA is happy to sign forms for any students who participate. Contact Pym Buitenhuis at [email protected].


Pro Bono Tax Party at Reset

Haven't done your taxes yet? Join Reset for a Pro Bono Tax Party on Saturday, April 27th from 1 to 6 pm in their Community Living Room. Drop in at any time but please CLICK HERE to RSVP. What makes it a party? They'll be hosting a sauna and silent disco dance throughout the day to insert some more community and joy into the process. 

This event is co-hosted by Certified Financial Planners (CPFs) Tim Nash and Mike Carlson. They will be providing free professional advice so that you can submit your taxes before the April 30th deadline. 

About Mike:

Mike is a Mixed Indigenous financial planner hoping to provide wholistic support to people to develop a healthier relationship with money. Mike is a former Board Member and Treasurer for Reset.

About Tim:

Tim is the founder of Good Investing and has helped thousands of Canadians align their investment portfolio with their values. He is an expert on socially responsible investing, sustainability, and impact investing.

Art Exhibit - Let the Light In

This month, you are invited to visit the art exhibit “Let Light In”, running April 1-30, 2024 at the Deer Park Toronto Public Library branch, located at 40 St. Clair Ave E. In this exhibit by Tracy Tendean, stained glass style illustrations depict memories of her life with her father who passed away in 2022 after years of declining health, including multiple strokes and dementia. In creating this series, she hopes to connect with those who are sick or grieving, those who are courageous caregivers, or anyone who needs a reminder to find joy even in the toughest journey. 


Montgomery Place Spring Bazaar

Montgomery Place Seniors Club is having their Spring Bazaar! Join them Saturday, April 27th from 11 AM to 4:30 PM in the Recreation Room at 130 Eglinton Avenue East. Are you a vendor? There's still time to reserve a table! You can reserve a table in the front lobby:

  • Tuesday, April 23rd from 2 PM to 4 PM

The Stop's Tax Clinic

The Stop's Debbie Jenkins Tax Clinic is back from March 6 to April 25th at 1884 Davenport Rd. 

What you need:

  • Photo ID and social insurance number (SIN)
  • Proof of income (T4 or T5 forms)
  • Rent receipts (if you have them)

Wednesdays 9 am to 3 pm. 

  • Limited virtual appointments are also available. 

For appointments:
Phone: 437-231-1169
Email: [email protected]


Special Evening with James Rottman Fine Art

Thursday, April 25th from 7 to 10 PM join James Rottman Fine Art for their Evening Social featuring music by internationally acclaimed musician, Mehdi Rostami. Mingle with community members, listen to the music, and enjoy their current exhibition!

Please note that this event is not a sit down event. Chairs will not be available. 

RSVP required to attend as limited space is available. [email protected]
830 St. Clair Ave. W., Toronto


2024 Inspire Awards

Nominations for the 2024 Inspire Awards close April 30th, 2024.

The Inspire Awards honour some of the most inspiring people, youth, businesses, and organizations in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in the Greater Toronto Area and across Canada. 

Have someone outstanding in mind? Now's the time to nominate. Click here for more information!


Community One Foundation 2024 Rainbow Grants

Community One Foundation is now accepting applications for their 2024 Rainbow Grants. 

Rainbow Grants provide funding to foster new and innovative services and programs that have a positive impact on the 2SLGBTQ+ community in the Greater Toronto Area (including Toronto, Durham, Peel, Hamilton, York, and Halton Regions, and Indigenous Communities across Ontario) under the following streams:

  • Indigenous Communities
  • Refugees
  • Trans Communities
  • Spiritual/Social Groups
  • Arts & Culture

Click here for more information and to download the application guide. 

The deadline is Friday, May 3rd, 2024 at 11:59 pm.


OVCO Homework Hub

Check out Homework Hub at the Oakwood Vaughan Community Hub in Vaughan Road Academy (529 Vaughan Rd). 

The program is offered Wednesday from 4 to 6 PM and is open to students in grades 4-8. Sign up for support with:

  • Homework
  • Reading, writing, math
  • Test prep
  • Organization

Register at [email protected].


Hillcrest Community Food Bank Needs Your Help

The Hillcrest Community Food Bank (2 Vaughan Road) needs URGENT help filling their shelves!

The need for food in our community is increasing and they're in urgent need of MORE food (and household items) to meet this higher demand. Please contact them via Instagram if there is anything you can do to help or if you are a local business that would be interested in becoming a community partner. Food donations in kind or monetary donations to their Canada Helps website would be greatly appreciated.

Become an organ donor

In Ontario, 1,400 people on average are waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant while thousands more are in need of a life-changing tissue donation. They are our friends, neighbours, colleagues, and, in some cases, members of our own families.

When you register as a possible organ and tissue donor, you have the potential to change the story for someone in need.
One donor can help over 80 people get back to life.
Register your consent to become an organ and tissue donor after your death and tell your family so they can help honour your wishes.
Did You Know?

  • Any Ontario resident who is 16 years or older and has an Ontario health card is eligible to register as an organ and tissue donor
  • Everyone has the potential to be an organ and/or tissue donor, regardless of age or health.
  • People from every major religion have donated. Many religions support donation or respect and individual’s choice.
  • The first and foremost concern for health care professionals is to save lives. Only when a life cannot be saved does organ and tissue donation become an option.
  • It takes two minutes to register or check your status at You can also register in person at any ServiceOntario location.

More information about the donation process, who can register, and the importance of speaking to family can be found online at


Learn to prevent an overdose

Each year across Ontario, thousands of lives are lost to overdoses. We need every level of government to prioritize implementing harm reduction strategies to combat these senseless deaths, and you can help.

As many of you know, Naloxone is a medication that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, and these kits are FREE with training at participating pharmacies across the city. Together, we can prevent unnecessary deaths and work toward a more compassionate society that is safe safe for everyone.

Find a pharmacy with Naloxone kits near you, and make sure you can recognize the signs of an overdose.


In solidarity, 

Dr. Jill Andrew

MPP, Toronto-St. Paul's

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