Community News Update - February 3, 2023

Dear Community, 

This week is Eating Disorders Awareness Week here in Ontario. As one of my proudest accomplishments in my first term as MPP, this week was established in late 2020 through the unanimous support of my Bill 61.

Now in it's third year, this Eating Disorders Awareness Week is themed "Transforming the Narrative from Asks to Action." Because while awareness is a crucial place to start, it can't be the end of our work in ending this disease.

The latest statistics show that 689,000 people across Ontario struggle with eating disorders - a figure that is growing and especially among children and youth. Meanwhile, its mortality rate is the second highest of any mental illness, behind opioid addiction. 

To do nothing is not an option. We must invest in public supports, including a substantial increase in publicly funded in-patient treatment beds (AND the staff that provide the care) to meet the growing demand for them. Without this, people are forced to choose between paying tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket for care or face what's called 'death by waitlist'. That's not a choice we should expect anyone to have to make, in a province where equal access to healthcare is our human right.

Myself and the Ontario NDP joined advocates with NEDIC, Sheena's Place, and NIED, among many others, to call on this government to honour this week of awareness with the action it requires.

Read our statement here

Today's book recommendation comes from Sydney! Sydney recommends Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby. Irby's essay collection tackles physical and mental illness and the attendant costs, music recommendations, Whiteness, small town America, and so much more - all with her signature deadpan humour.

As always, order it to your local bookstore or request it from your favourite Toronto Public Library Branch. Thanks, Sydney!

Yesterday, MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam and I were joined by folks from Mini Moon Project to discuss all things menstrual equity! In 2021, Stephen Lecce and the PC govt announced a partnership with Shoppers Drug Mart to address period poverty, but we don't believe schools should be at the whims of corporate support that may or may not ever arrive.
 
Meghan White from Ottawa-based Period Packs makes clear that the PC plan is not nearly sufficient for the number of menstruators in our school system: the policy only provides for 3% of a menstruator's yearly needs! Not to mention the number of dispensers (1200), which supposes that barely one bathroom per school requires menstrual products! Menstrual equity begins with wide availability and accessibility - for all who menstruate.
 
It's clear to me that the status quo is not working! Menstrual hygiene is a human right, and folks who menstruate need our support - especially youth! We need a plan that helps young menstruators in our school system safely and reliably access the products they need!
 
Learn more about Mini Moon Project and their important work here.
Thank you to ATU Local 113 President Marvin Alfred and Library Workers Local 4948 President Brandon Haynes for writing this open letter to Mayor John Tory and City Council calling for a city that works for all its residents.

They're right: public infrastructure must meet the needs of the public it's purported to serve, and we in Toronto are at risk of losing that.

Read the entirety of their statement below and here on their website, and consider amplifying their calls in your own social networks.
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!
On Saturday, February 4 from 2-10PM, Oakwood Village BIA will launched their new endeavor, "Honouring Black History in Our Community."

Come on down to 473 Oakwood Avenue to learn the legacy of local businesses with Black history and heritage!
The wonderful folks at The Linden School have launched a Healthy Valentine's Day project, which offers downloadable Valentines expressing body positivity, consent, and healthy relations. Be sure to download yours soon to share with loved ones!
Our friends at Canadian Women's Foundation are hosting an art contest for youth aged 7 to 16! Create a piece of art based on this prompt: What does helping someone in an unsafe situation look like? The deadline is February 6 at 12PM. Find more information here!
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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