This week was an emotional (but important) one. Yesterday, I had my last speech in the Legislature of my first term as an MPP for Toronto–St. Paul’s. I spoke on two issues that I am passionate about: affordable housing and mental healthcare.
I could not tell you the number of constituents that have reached out to my office DESPERATE for an affordable place to call home. There have been way too many. While rent prices have skyrocketed, the wait time for subsidized housing in Toronto is YEARS – for example, one of the constituents we have been assisting recently has been waiting for seven-plus years. She receives ODSP and cannot work, and almost all of her income goes towards rent in a place she cannot even live comfortably.
We need real rent control and more resources for subsidized housing NOW.
In June 2018, the Ford government promised to maintain rent control across Ontario. By November, just five months later, they scrapped it for all new buildings. That’s right: new developments occupied for the first time for residential purposes after November 15, 2018, are exempt from rent control.
Since then, the number one issue I hear from our St. Paul’s community – 60% being renters – is related to their fear of losing the roof over their heads. These constituents aren’t just IN our community. They ARE our community. They deserve to stay in place in homes they can afford.
See my speech on affordable housing here.
The second time I spoke in the Legislature yesterday was on mental healthcare; more specifically, the need to better integrate the important work that Registered Psychotherapists (RPs) do into our healthcare system.
I presented the bill Making Psychotherapy Services Tax-Free Act, co-sponsored with MPP France Gélinas, which would make services provided by RPs HST exempt.
I should highlight, though, that the goal is to make mental healthcare services, including the ones provided by RPs, publicly funded and covered by OHIP. And if an NDP government is elected in June, that's what we will do.
But we needed an immediate solution. We’ve seen the demand for mental healthcare increase during this pandemic, and many people cannot afford these services.
It is past time that we take mental healthcare seriously, and that means making it ACCESSIBLE to Ontarians.
The provincial government budget came out yesterday, and let me tell you – it was not great, to say the least. Instead of fixing what’s not working, Doug Ford is signalling that he’d make at least $2.7 billion in deeper cuts to things like health care, long-term care, home care and education, and do nothing to relieve the cost of living and price of housing.
There’s no plan to make life more affordable in this budget, and these cuts could lead health care and education past the breaking point. Spending $2.7 billion less than inflation over the next three years would mean firing tens of thousands of teachers, education workers, nurses, PSWs and other critical employees.
The budget also reveals how deep the Ford government cut in 2021-22 — during a global pandemic when people and small businesses needed help the most:
• $1.3 billion cut from education
• $685 million cut from Post-Secondary Education
• $632 million cut from Children’s and Social Services
• $71 million cut from Justice
Kids in Ontario have suffered enormous losses during the pandemic, and their schools are underfunded, overcrowded, and in urgent need of repairs. They deserve a leader who prioritizes their education, but Doug Ford’s budget doesn’t even have a section for education.
Additionally, this budget should have been tabled a month ago. Tabling it yesterday on the same day that they shut down Queen’s Park meant no MPP had a chance to question them or debate their “budget,” which we know is simply their platform.
Meanwhile, the NDP has released a full election platform focused on fixing health care (and covering mental health care, dental care and prescription drugs under OHIP), making it easier to rent or buy a home, and bringing down the cost of everyday life.
If you’d like to show your support, come by tomorrow for my Campaign Launch! We will be at the Midtown Gastro Hub at 2 pm. Count on delicious food & drinks (while taking precautions against COVID), inspiring speeches, and live entertainment. We are asking that everyone wears their masks if they are not drinking or eating. We will also be checking proofs of vaccination at the door.
For more information and to RSVP, click here.
Finally, while I wasn't able to be there in person, I'm glad to have attended an incredible and thoughtful Yom Hashoah commemoration event online. It was moving to hear the words and experiences of so many survivors, some no longer with us, and to see those that still are and their families gathered to remember.
Every one of the memories that we heard stands for twenty that we will never hear, the memories of those that did not survive. Thank you to CIJA, Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, Azrieli Holocaust Survivor Memoirs, Facing History and Ourselves, & March of the Living Canada for this tribute to those who survived, and those who did not. Thanks also to Toronto Jewish Chorus for providing the music.