Before getting into anything else today, I must address the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the unprovoked horror that Vladimir Putin has unleashed on the people of Ukraine. I stand in absolute solidarity with the people of Ukraine right now, who are living in fear for what tomorrow will bring. I am sending my support to the people of Ukraine, and to all Ukrainian-Canadians during these difficult days.
Along with my Ontario NDP colleagues, in light of this attack on Ukraine, I am calling for an initial donation of $3 million, and an Ontario government commitment to match dollar-for-dollar donations from Ontarians to the Canada-Ukraine Foundation. Further, I believe that we must do our part to level economic sanctions on the Russian government – and to that end – I am glad to see Russian products banned from the LCBO today.
We stand with Ukraine.
Word spread on Wednesday (Patty Day, no less!) that our beloved Randy’s Patties had plans to close down. As someone who has thoroughly enjoyed their patties many times over the years, I was deeply saddened by this news. This family business has been a Little Jamaica staple for over 40 years. Its importance for many of us has never been clearer – yesterday and today, the lines to grab patties went on for blocks.
The Randy’s team stated that there were many reasons for the closure, some related to personal life decisions, others related to current business challenges. Among them were years of endless Metrolinx construction and the impacts of COVID-19.
These same reasons have caused many other businesses to close down. My heart goes with all small businesses that had to deal with empty promises from the Ford government, only to get their Small Business Relief grants rejected with no clear explanation. My NDP colleagues and I have been calling again and again for more financial support to our small businesses.
In 2020, I put forth a motion for the Little Jamaica' Small Business Economic Health and Community Wellness Strategy, which would have given financial compensation of up to $30,000 to Eglinton West businesses struggling due to longstanding impacts of the Metrolinx Eglinton LRT Crosstown construction and COVID-19. I re-tabled that same motion last year.
Just a couple of months ago, I criticized the latest Eglinton LRT delays and the fact that the new open date was negotiated behind closed doors. Our community is tired of the mess caused by this construction, which interferes with not only businesses but also the lives of every single person who lives or works in the area. A project that is supposed to serve the community is doing the exact opposite, and it seems that there is no accountability from the government and the company to ensure our community’s wellbeing is preserved.
On another note, we have a new set of safety measures coming into effect on March 1 (next Tuesday):
- No more capacity limits in all indoor public settings
- No more proof of vaccination requirements, with businesses being allowed to implement them voluntarily
- Protective measures such as mask/face covering requirements and active/passive screening of patrons will remain
If you have questions about how this impacts your business, the contact available is the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.
I also wanted to remind everyone that we have a vaccine coming up on Monday in the riding! I'm happy to have organized this clinic with the Women’s College Hospital and the For Youth Initiative (FYI). We'll be at 504 Oakwood Ave from 1 to 7:30 PM, offering vaccines to all those eligible who are 5+ years of age (first, second and third doses). Walk-ins only, no appointment needed!
Yesterday, I spoke in the Legislative Assembly about the rise of antisemitism in Toronto-St. Paul’s and across Ontario. This is an issue that needs to concern each and everyone of us. That’s why I called for a MANDATORY holocaust and genocide education embedded in Ontario curriculums to end this hatred once and for all.
North York Arts is offering a free visual storytelling workshop for youth aged 13-18 living in North York. Students will learn how to incorporate inspirations from mythology and their ancestry, as well as the basic principles of art in order to create their own visual story.
- Dates: March 22 to April 12, 2022
- Times: 5:00pm to 6:30pm
- Deadline to apply: Monday, March 7th, 2022, 11:59 pm
- Spots Available: 12
- Workshop Location: Online via Zoom
- Workshop Payment: FREE
- For more info and to register click HERE.
Finally, today I want to share an article that I was proud to be featured in by Ashley Okwuosa, titled: ‘That’s how you do it’: Black women in Ontario politics – past, present, and future. It’s a great article that spoke about a number of the Black women who have blazed trails in Ontario politics, as well as some up-and-coming voices.