Community News Update - February 15, 2023

Dear Community,


On Monday, I held a press conference with MPP Joel Harden and a number of community advocates about the need for public accountability. The Ford government has allowed the Eglinton Crosstown LRT to soar $1 billion over budget and 2 years and counting delayed all while making Phil Verster (CEO of Metrolinx) the highest paid employee in the public sector with a salary of nearly $1 million. This is unacceptable!

The Premier is driving our public transit infrastructure into the ground, and we are here to stop it. Ford's reliance on P3s is an offense to public workers' safety and their employment, it is an attack against public transit riders concerned about the 9% service reduction, and it is an affront to our community at large that has had to live through over 12 years of noise pollution, congestion, and delays.

P3s allow greedy politicians to "provide now, pay later." They provide the illusion of service to voters and users in order to gain political credit during their term while craftily deferring the ballooning costs and headaches of chronic delays to future politicians, future voters, future vulnerable communities and users. It's deception 101 and it is exactly what we've grown used to under Premier Ford's government.

Well, the buck stops here. I was joined on Monday by folks like Dane Williams, Co-Founder and Director of Partnerships at Black Urbanism Toronto serving our St. Paul's community, members of ATU Local 113 and TTC Riders. We are all fed up. We want to see Ford's government invest public dollars into public infrastructure, public transit, and public jobs so our residents, communities, workers, transit riders, and small businesses can thrive.

No more sweetheart deals for Ford's developer buddies, private consultants, private consortiums and contractors. Enough is enough! It's time we put the public first!

Over the weekend, I was thrilled to join so many folks hitting the pavement in support of Hamilton Centre candidate Sarah Jama! Volunteers from across the city came together to rally around our next MPP for a special Black Power History Month canvass alongside our friends from CBTU, OFL, and Canadian Labour.

The sun was shining, the weather was beautiful, and the joy at the doors was palpable and inspiring!

I know Sarah will fight for real affordable housing and rent control. She will fight to stop the abuse of demovictions/renovictions as a means for unhousing community members, and she'll support every day workers who are struggling to get by as well as those who cannot work. The biggest thing we heard from folks: Sarah will fight tooth and nail to get ODSP/OW doubled!

Sending all of our good luck thoughts to Team Sarah with the upcoming by-election, though I suspect they won't need it. They've got tons of people power behind them!


This week is Nonprofit Sector Appreciation Week! You can participate in this week until February 19 by celebrating, highlighting, and sharing nonprofits that are close to your heart!

The Canadian National Institute for the Blind has a community hub on 1525 Yonge St. Their work promoting accessibility and quality of life for the blind and seeing-impaired people has been inspiring. I've always been impressed by their new tools to help people fully experience the world. Here are two posts I've done about their work in the past:

As I shared last week, Cycling Without Age is a nonprofit organization operating across Canada and here in our own backyard!

With the goals of reducing social isolation and bettering the mental and physical health of all Canadians, the folks at Cycling Without Age share this:

"Using specialized electric pedal-assisted trishaws each bicycle can carry up to two passengers on an adventure previously unimagined. Envision harkening back to youthful memories of exploration and discovery thought forever lost. Local volunteers called ‘pilots’ visit care homes, senior centers and community groups to offer rides on the trishaw. Being outdoors, reconnecting in the community and with the ‘pilots’ nurtures emotional well-being. Rides make passengers smile, bring back their memories, and allow them to be part of society again and thereby renewing their appetite for life itself."

You can learn more about their wonderful organization here and book a thrilling ride of your own!

It's no secret that there is a health care crisis in Ontario! By allowing the for-profit delivery of surgeries, Doug Ford has threatened to turn parts of our public health care system into a for-profit model. This will leave MILLIONS of Ontarians behind!

Access to health care should never come down to what's in your bank account.

All Ontarians deserve access to health care when they need it and with only their OHIP card - never their credit card. It's time we show up and show out for more investment in public health care - NOT privatization and cuts!

On February 22 @ 5PM, join me and Toronto Area NDP MPPs along with United Steelworkers, Ontario Coalition of Hospitals United/CUPE, OPSEU, TYRLC, and more at a Rally to Stop Ford's Privatization of Health Care!

WHERE: Hospital Row - College St & University Ave



Throughout February, I'm inviting you to share with us some of your favourite books written by Black authors! Send us a photo of you reading it, or just send us the title - but most importantly: let us know why it's your book pick!

We will be sharing submissions throughout the month of February!

Please consider shopping local and supporting a Black-owned bookstore (shout out to the iconic Burke's Bookstore) or visiting any of our local St. Paul's Toronto Public Library branches that are always ready to welcome you!

Our community member Monica shares Viola Davis' memoir Finding Me as her book pick!

Monica writes: "I loved this book, I had no idea Viola had so many struggles in her life and it was great to learn about those in her life and what helped her."

You can borrow Finding Me from your local branch.

On Friday, I will be joining the YMCA for their Black History Month Event: Kujichaguila! Body Stories: Where History, Race and Queerness Intersect. You can register for the Zoom event here!

Our friends at the Frankel Lambert Outreach Committee (FLOC) are hiring a project coordinator for "Building Community Capacity for Co-op Development in the Frankel Lambert Neighbourhood." If you know of someone who sounds like a good fit for this role, please share this job posting and encourage them to apply by March 3!

On Tuesday, February 21 at 8 PM, I will be joining our friends at Wychwood Barns Community Association in their celebration of Black History Month! You can register here to attend.

On March 4, I will be participating as a panelist at the screening of Below the Belt - a documentary about endometriosis produced by Hillary Clinton, Rosario Dawson, Corinne Foxx, and Mae Whitman.

As critic for women's issues, I was proud to stand in the legislature in support of naming March endometriosis month of awareness. Raising awareness around endometriosis is an important piece of advocacy work for all folks who menstruate, including transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary community members who have a long history of experiencing inequity in the health care system.

This important film highlights the discrimination experienced by people assigned female at birth and the many social taboos that surround menstruation to this day.

I hope you'll consider joining us in what I'm sure will be a lively and informative discussion!

Until March 31, Unison's Oakwood-Vaughan location will be offering an integrated care clinic on Monday evenings from 5:30-8:30PM. Members of the community can drop in to receive COVID vaccines, blood pressure checks, mental health and harm reduction support, and be seen by a physician - no health card required!

A reminder to get your tickets to see Jesse Ryan & Kaiso Street Collective on February 17 at 7PM. See here!

Our friends at Sending Sunshine have reached out to request help from you! These lovely folks are working to combat social isolation and loneliness among senior community members by providing them with handwritten cards.

If you've got a stamp to spare, consider writing an uplifting note to an elder Ontarian to spread a little of our famous Toronto-St. Paul's joy!

Until March 12, you can check out the below exhibit at James Rottman Fine Art gallery at 803 St. Clair Ave W. at Atlas Avenue!

This April, the BBPA Harry Jerome Awards returns! Don't forget to get your tickets and nominate your preferred candidate!

The spectacular Holy Blossom Temple Out of the Cold Community Dinner commenced last night and will be running EVERY THURSDAY at 5PM until March 30th at 1950 Bathurst St (entrance on Dewbourne Avenue)! Spread the word to folks in need!!!! Thank you to all the wonderful volunteers who make services like this possible!

See here for more info!

Doors open each Thursday at 5PM and close at 7PM.

In Solidarity, 

Jill Andrew
Toronto-St. Paul's


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