Today, Ontario is reporting 1829 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 435 in ICU. While these numbers are still high, and remain concerning, they are thankfully continuing to trend downwards.
Now, the best thing that we can do as a community to continue that downward trend is to ensure that we follow the best public health advice, and that means getting fully vaccinated (3 doses) and wearing an effective mask when appropriate.
This week, the occupations and blockades around the province have dominated the news, drawing international attention. Today, it was announced that after allowing this crisis to drag on for almost two weeks, the Ford government is finally taking steps to bring an end to this situation by declaring a state of emergency.
During a state of emergency, the government is granted extra powers to quickly address dire situations, and in this case, Ford has indicated that he will be enacting orders that will be targeted to increase pressure and enforcement mechanisms to end the convoy.
Here is a great article that further explains the implications of the state of emergency.
The reality here is that for over a week now Doug Ford has been sitting on his hands, allowing this crisis to fester, when he could have acted much more quickly to bring about a peaceful resolution to this situation. The harm and trauma that’s been caused by this occupation will have a lasting impact on the people of Ottawa, and this never should have been allowed to go this far.
As a final note on this for today, I want to share with our community that the counter-protest that was being planned for tomorrow, “The Rally for Health Rally for Streets”, organized in response to the convoy has been called cancelled by the organizers. This decision was made as a result of the declaration of a state of emergency in Ontario.
Earlier this week, I was honoured to join with representatives from the Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA) for a meeting in Little Jamaica to discuss how we can work together to best support our Black-owned businesses in the community. I’m incredibly grateful for the business supports that they are providing on the ground, along with the community connections, and hope they are breathing into a community that’s been hit so hard by construction and COVID-19.
I’d also like to extend a special thanks to Ontario NDP MPP Faisal Hassan for joining us for the meeting. I’m looking forward to continuing to work closely with the BBPA on supporting Little Jamaica for many years to come!
The BBPA has a whole series of great programs, and today I’d like to share with our community the “Rise Up Pitch Competition” for Black women entrepreneurs. It’s a competition where Black women entrepreneurs are eligible to win up to $10,000 for their business, and it’s open to businesses at any stage of development.
To bring this to life, the BBPA has teamed up with the Casa Foundation, and applications are open until March 1, 2022. If you’d like to find out more or submit an application – click here.
In case you missed it on Wednesday, I’m excited to share a big win for our community, regarding the accessibility of OHIP card renewals. A little while ago I was approached by a constituent who faced an issue getting their OHIP card renewed online because they did not have a driver’s licence. For some reason, online renewals did not work with the Ontario Photo card – creating a clear accessibility barrier for many across the province. Once I started raising this issue at Queen’s Park, I was inundated with folks who had dealt with the same issue and faced the same frustration.
We started petitioning and pressuring the government, and I’m now happy to report that the government is working towards fixing this glaring oversight. We learned earlier this week that the government has extended the health card renewal deadline and promising the inclusion of the Ontario Photo Card as an acceptable document for online OHIP renewals soon.
I want to send a huge thanks to everyone who helped advocate on this important issue, and especially to the seniors and people with disabilities who reached out to share their stories.
I am excited to give an enormous congratulations to local filmmakers Jennifer Holness and David (Sudz) Sutherland on their production Subjects of Desire – an award-winning film. Their company Hungry Eyes Media is located right here in the riding, and if you’re interested in learning more about the film or booking a screening – check out the film’s website here.
Watch the trailer:
A reminder! Coming up on February 28, 2022 – I have helped organize a vaccination clinic that will be open to anyone ages 5+ who is in need of a vaccination. If you haven’t gotten all your vaccinations yet – make sure to come on out.
Next up, our friends from Skills for Change, are organizing an important event that I’d like to share with the community. The Together Against Violence Symposium will be happening on February 17, and they will be hosting 10 community workshops on a range of topics, and I’ll be joining Skills for Change Surranna Sandy for some opening remarks as well.
Topic areas will include:
- Using self-compassion to foster personal growth
- South Asian Women’s Struggles Against Racism and Violence: Barriers and Solutions
- Trauma, Abuse and Violence of Bangladeshi women and girls in patriarchal and COVID-19 frameworks
- Going Beyond Allyship & Exploring Radical Self-Care
- Gender-based violence & Wellness Support for Newcomers and Community
- Featuring a fireside chat with Surranna Sandy, CEO of Skills for Change and Nneka MacGregor, Executive Director of WomenatthecentrE.
If you would like to learn more about the event and register to attend – click here.
Finally, today, I am excited to share that on March 17, I will be hosting a Community Awards event on Facebook Live and Zoom, where I will be recognizing some of the incredible members of our Toronto-St. Paul’s Community.
Nominations will be open from February 14 to 24.
On Monday, I’ll be sharing a form where you can submit your nominations – so start thinking on it now and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s submissions next week!
Have a great weekend!