Community News Update - February 22, 2023

Dear Community,

Yesterday, I rose in the House to introduce my Bill 61 in support of making psychotherapy services tax free. It is long past time that this government starts taking mental health care seriously, and that means making it accessible to all Ontarians - regardless of their financial situation.

Most of us have had our struggles with mental health, and that's especially true for BIPOC, 2SLGBTQIA+ folks, women, and people with disabilities who have historically faced incredible barriers when it comes to accessing care. The 13% tax is one such barrier, and removing it is a vital first step in ensuring no Ontarian is left behind. It is an immediate change this government can make to ensure we're on the right track toward integrating mental health care in our publicly funded health care system.

If you agree, please join me in signing this petition.

On September 22, 2015, Carol Culleton, Anastasia Kuzyk, and Nathalie Warmerdam were senselessly murdered by a man in Renfrew County. The perpetrator knew all three women. These murders led to the Renfrew County Inquest which delivered 86 specific recommendations for the prevention of intimate partner violence (IPV).

68 of these 86 recommendations fall at the provincial government's feet. It is Doug Ford's responsibility to implement these. In the House, I asked the Premier to explain why his government refused to declare intimate partner violence an epidemic. This is the first recommendation of the inquest, and a vital first step in addressing this issue and putting an end to IPV.

You can read our statement here, which was shared last week, and learn about the rest of the recommendations here.

Watch me speak to this in the House here.

Today is Human Trafficking Awareness Day in Ontario  Yesterday I spoke in the house about the importance of  dealing with human trafficking within a frame-work of gender-based violence and the lack of resources provided by this government to victims of gender-based violence and intimate partner violence in Ontario.

This week, I also highlighted the incredible work being done by Toronto-St. Pauls' own Cystic Fibrosis Canada! Cystic fibrosis (CF) is the most common fatal genetic disease affecting children and young adults in Canada. In Ontario alone, there are an estimated 1500 people living with CF. There is currently no cure.

The drug Trikafta has been a game changer for folks with CF, but it costs approximately $300, 000 per year per patient. Ontario provides this drug for free through OHIP+ for those 24 years and younger, however, this leaves many others in an impossible situation.

Cystic Fibrosis Canada is calling on the Ontario government to create a new deducitble free specialized drug program for drugs for rare diseases so all Ontarians who need them can get access without losing their private insurance. I hope Ford's government will heed this call and help save many lives in my community and across the province.

You can watch me speak to this in the House here.

Today is Chosen Family Day. For many LGBTQ+ Ontarians, biologically related or legally recognized families may not be the place where they find the love and support that they need. For these folks, their true families are chosen families. I recently joined MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam, MPP Mitzie Hunter and Friends of Ruby in supporting a bill to officially recognize Chosen Family Day in Ontario.

Today I spoke in Queen's Park to demand that the government give a real answer to what's going on with the construction on the Eglinton Crosstown. This has been dragging on for over a decade with no end in sight. Our community deserves better. You can watch me speak here!

Last night, I joined the Wychwood Barns Community Association in their celebration of Black History Month alongside the inimitable Sheila Arnold who kicked off the evening with a spiritual performance of "Wade in the Waters." Thank you Sheila for sharing your knowledge, and thank you WBCA for inviting me to speak at this event!

Today immediately following question period, I rushed from Queen's Park up to the wonderful Central Eglinton Community Centre to drop by their Seniors Active Living Fair! This was a fantastic event highlighting the many individuals and organizations offering invaluable support to elder Ontarians (and others!). It was so great to chat and learn more about these diverse services being offered across the GTA.

Learn more about the programming offered by CECC here!

As always, if you or an elder you know needs assistance or is seeking community, please don't hesitate to reach out to my office. We're always here to help!

This afternoon I was so thrilled to welcome the students participating in the 2023 Legislative Assembly of Ontario Model Parliament program - including St. Paul's own Alexander Koutakos! This is a fantastic opportunity for civic-minded youth to peek behind the current of parliamentary affairs and play the role of an MPP. With youth like this, I'm confident the future of our province is in capable hands!

You can learn more about the fantastic program here!

Thank you to Reverend Lameteria D. Hall for the experience each of us had on Sunday during their "Led to Love" Sunday Worship Service for Black History Month! Thank you, David, for the invitation to speak on love as devoted service.

The words I heard from folks on love as freedom were incredible, and so deeply moving for me on a personal level. Not to mention the incredible Black History Month Community Choir!

Having the honour of sitting next to Itah Sadu was beyond uplifting - your storytelling even as you accepted your award was just legendary.

Special shoutouts to City Councillors Amber Morley, Chris Moise, and Jamaal Myers who were also in attendance, and of course our own MP Carolyn Bennett.

The Verity Centre is on a mission to create and maintain a spiritual based community that facilitates enlightenment, enrichment, and empowerment. It is truly guided by love! Each time I've walked through the doors I've felt loved and safe. I encourage you all to get to know them if this moves you!

As Rev. Hall says, we are all walking bibles. We are all walking messages. What messages are you giving off today? How will that message help shape and support another person's life? How will that message help us demonstrate love in our leadership, our service, our quest for freedom?

I'd love to hear your answers to these questions - so if you feel moved to share please do reply to this email!

I hope you'll join me tomorrow on February 23 outside Sunnybrook Hospital to show our support for nurses and front-line health care professionals! I'll be there at 1PM!

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

RSVP HERE!

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 Meg Fox sent in some wonderful suggestions! Here are a couple:

"Brit Bennett, The Vanishing Half  A multi-generational family saga that tackles prickly issues of racial identity and bigotry and conveys the corrosive effects of secrets and dissembling. At 16, identical twins Desiree and Stella ran off from their small, segregated Southern town to New Orleans, but "after a year, the twins scattered, their lives splitting as evenly as their shared egg. Stella became white and Desiree married the darkest man she could find.” It’s their daughters’ unlikely meeting that brings them back together.

Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing “The unhealed ruptures of slavery, persistent as memory and rubbed raw in such an instant, course through Homegoing, the hypnotic debut novel by Yaa Gyasi, a stirringly gifted young writer, that contemplates the consequences of human trafficking on both sides of the Atlantic. The book tells the story of two half sisters unknown to each other and of the six generations that follow. The narrative unfolds through self-¬contained stories, some like fables, others nightmares, that shift between the family lines in West Africa and America, each new protagonist a limb of the disrupted family tree.”

Be sure to check out The Vanishing Half and Homegoing at your local library branch!

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 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!

Are you a lower-income renter? In 2022, the Government of Canada announced a One-time top up to the Canada Housing benefit - a one-time payment of $500 to help with the cost of rent.

Please see the below for more information about eligibility and how to apply, and be sure to share this widely with your community. Even reaching one more eligible renter will make all the difference!

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!

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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