Community News Update - August 11, 2021

Dear Community,

Today, Ontario reported 324 new COVID-19 cases and 3 deaths. While these numbers are lower than what we saw over the weekend, they still show an upward curve to where we were a month ago, sparking concerns around a ‘fourth wave’.

Make no mistake, a fourth wave is not inevitable. But only if we work together to prevent it. This starts by getting vaccinated. While 72.2% of eligible Ontarians have received both doses, this figure is not high enough. If you are having trouble booking an appointment, please reach out to our office at [email protected] and we are happy to assist you in finding one. For those hesitant, we encourage you to follow the advice of the world’s top doctors and scientists, which we’d be happy to share resources for as well.

Getting vaccinated is a social responsibility and the best way we can preserve our community's health. As an immunocompromised, double-vaccinated person myself, I have long supported mandatory vaccines for education workers, healthcare workers, and in other sectors where the risk of exposure and transmission is higher. Vaccine certificates are another way towards our COVID recovery that I also support.

While the concept of vaccine certificates isn’t new, it does present challenges for small businesses to implement them. Placing the design and enforcement of these systems on them is an unfair burden, especially as they recover from a year and a half of struggling to stay afloat.

No business owner trying to keep their staff and customers safe should be made subject to verbal attacks or online bullying from anti-vaxxers. Yet, Doug Ford's failing to provide clear direction for businesses, leaving them to muddle through safety protocols themselves, puts them at risk of just that. The Premier must be accountable and offer guidance and support for certificate programs through formal policy.

Here in Toronto-St.Paul's, most of us have done our due diligence through the worst of the pandemic to keep each other safe for the day each of us could see and hug our loved ones again. Each of us deserves this, so let's keep doing what's right. We've got this, St. Pauls!

In other news, this Monday, August 16 at 5:30PM, I will be joined by MPP Stiles for Toronto-Davenport and Education Critic with the Official Opposition for my Education Summit, where we will be discussing the back-to-school “plan” released by Minister Lecce and Premier Ford last week. Despite months of waiting, the plan is strikingly similar to what we saw in 2020, which was absolutely detrimental for Ontario children, their parents, teachers, and education workers. I am extremely concerned that this plan will walk us into the same disaster once again at the expense of our kid's health.

I, along with my colleagues with the Ontario NDP have long called for a far more detailed plan, including smaller class sizes, investments into ventilation, rapid, asymptomatic testing, and importantly, more mental health supports. But we know the most effective advocacy comes from those that see the impacts of the government's actions firsthand. That includes teachers and trustees, including Shelley Laskin and Norm Di Pasquale who will also be joining the panel to provide their expertise. It also includes you – parents, students, custodians, support workers, or anyone who knows the importance of in-person education.

We want to hear your questions, issues, or concerns relating to a safe September for Ontario. To submit, email [email protected] with the subject line ‘Education Townhall”. To RSVP to watch the townhall live, click here or tune into my Facebook where we will be streaming live.

The City of Toronto issued a heat advisory starting yesterday; though if you’ve stepped outside since then, you likely already know. The level of heat matched with humidity during a heatwave can feel unbearable. But for vulnerable populations, such as those experiencing homelessness, aging adults, people living with disabilities or simply, those living without air conditioning or adequate ventilation, it can be a matter of life or death.

We urge you to keep tabs on your family, friends, neighbours, and anyone in your community who may be struggling through the heat to ensure they’re keeping hydrated and their body temp is regulated.

If you or anyone you know is in need of a cool down, see the list of the City of Toronto's Emergency Cooling Centres here.

These times are also a reminder that under the Residential Tenancies Act, landlords are still able to deny tenants air conditioning or charge illegal fees to tenants without repercussions. This is despite the heat having grave impacts on the health and wellbeing of tenants and too often, tragic consequences.

While I have formally petitioned for better oversight against predatory fees placed on tenants by landlords, myself and the Ontario NDP also look to establish a Cooling Strategy for seniors and other vulnerable tenants to ensure their health and wellbeing year-round through our Homes You Can Afford platform. To be safe and secure in our homes is a human right. It’s time for a government that reflects this.

As Toronto's – and Canada’s - largest celebration of Rastafarian culture and heritage, Rastafest 2021 is coming to our own Toronto—St. Paul’s community on Saturday, August 21 from 12-7. Held in the Reggae Lane Parking Lot, the long-awaited festival will immerse visitors into its rich culture with an exciting concert line-up of acclaimed reggae artists, a marketplace, and of course, local food vendors for a taste of the Caribbean. The event is free to attend in person (food donations are welcome) and will also be streamed live at www.rastafest.tv.

Lastly, our community food tables will be back up this Saturday from 11-1! We are always looking for donations and/or volunteers and you can click the links below to register.

Marian Engel Park - 285 Melita Ave. (Christie St. and Melita Ave)
Click here to register to volunteer.


St. Matthew’s United Church - 729 St. Clair Ave West. (St. Clair Ave W. and Rushton Ave.)
Click here to register to volunteer.

Cy Townsend Park - 455 Winona Dr. (Vaughan Rd. and Winona Dr.)
Click here to register to volunteer.

Oriole Park Community Garden - 201 Oriole Parkway (Located near Lascelles Blvd. At the south entrance to Oriole Park)
Click here to register to volunteer.

We hope to meet you there. Until then, have a safe week!

In Solidarity,

 
Jill Andrew
Toronto—St. Paul's

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