This morning, Ontario reported 60 additional deaths as a result of COVID-19. This is the highest number of recorded COVID-19 deaths since February 4, 2021 – almost one year ago.
I think it’s key that when we’re working together to fight back against COVID-19, we remember that we’re doing it to keep each other safe. I say this to say, please get vaccinated, please wear a mask, please take the instructions that we’re getting from public health officials seriously. I know that the vast majority of our community is already doing this – but let’s keep working together to get through these difficult days.
Examining our other key indicators, hospital admissions fell slighting and ICU occupancy increased slightly in the province. As of this morning, there were 4132 people in hospital with COVID-19 and 589 in ICUs.
Looking forward, the Ontario government announced today that they are expecting Omicron cases to peak this month. They also hinted that there will likely be an announcement coming tomorrow regarding the loosening of current public health restrictions in the province. While this can’t be confirmed just yet – it is being reported that the announcement will include a return to in-person dining (at 50% capacity) starting January 31.
As that story develops, I will be sure to keep our community looped in.
Across Toronto-St. Paul’s, many of our businesses have suffered greatly during the pandemic, but along Eglinton West the financial blow from COVID-19 was extra crushing following years of pain during the Eglinton LRT construction. Throughout my time as the MPP for Toronto-St. Paul’s, I have been proud to have advocated for our Eglinton West community that’s been impacted so severely – bringing their challenges right into Queen’s Park.
Earlier this week, we learned of the creation of an Eglinton Crosstown advisory committee, with Metrolinx, the City of Toronto, The Toronto Association of BIAs, and the Eglinton BIA Alliance on board. As this group gets to work to improve the situation for affected businesses along Eglinton Ave West, I issued a joint statement with York South Weston MPP Faisal Hassan which calls for action on a number of key priorities for the affected communities.
- Needs-based financial compensation for Eglinton West and Midtown businesses impacted by COVID-19, flooding, and LRT construction
- Mandated transparent and timely communications between Metrolinx, the Ministry of Transportation, Ministry of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction and “Little Jamaica” small business and local community members
- Commercial and residential rent relief with a moratorium on evictions for the duration of the pandemic
- Heritage designation of Little Jamaica accompanied by an arts and culture plan
- The construction of real affordable housing in the community, prioritizing inclusionary zoning in all new builds
You can read our full press release here.
If you want to learn more about Little Jamaica and Eglinton West, I encourage you to check out this terrific mini documentary ‘City of Culture Tours Little Jamaica”.
I’m very proud to have been a part of this documentary that showcases some of the gems in Little Jamaica!
Earlier today, Doug Ford hosted a Housing Summit – which had the stated aim of addressing housing affordability in Ontario. While Premier Ford’s focus was on cutting regulations for the development industry, I’m proud to be offering a real plan to our community to tackle the housing crisis in Ontario.
Here are five key actions that I believe must be taken right now.
- Stabilize rents by making it illegal for landlords to raise the rent in between tenants beyond provincial guideline increases.
- Introduce a speculation and vacancy tax on those who don’t pay taxes in Ontario and who own houses they don’t live in, plus increase the Non-Resident Speculation Tax to 20 per cent, and apply it province-wide.
- Change zoning rules so that developers in Toronto are forced to build more affordable housing in every major development, not just near major transit hubs, and so that multi-unit homes — like duplexes and townhouses — are allowed in all neighbourhoods.
- Allow municipalities to shift property taxes onto properties worth more than $2 million and shift the tax burden onto the most fortunate.
- Immediately commit to funding the building of at least 99,000 affordable housing and supportive housing units.
We need to ensure that we’re tackling the real roots of the housing affordability crisis, and we need a government that’s willing to take the bold steps necessary to make sure that everyone can secure a stable place to live.
Ontario NDP Housing Critic Jessica Bell released a full statement regarding the Housing Summit that you can read here.
I’m excited to invite our community to tune into a very special concert that’s happening tomorrow evening (January 20) at 7PM. The legendary Jay Douglas will have his concert – recorded at the Reggae Café – air live on the JAZZ FM Youtube channel (click here), and over the radio at 99.1FM. Don’t miss it!
Finally today, in my last Community News Update I asked for folks to email in their pictures from the snowstorm! I want to thank everyone who sent in pictures – below is a gallery of some of the best shots!