Community News Update - March 30, 2024

Dear Community, 

Happy Easter weekend! I am wishing everyone in St. Paul's and beyond a great long weekend spent with family and friends. Let us embrace the spirit of renewal and hope that this special season brings. May this time of reflection and joy bring us closer together as a community, renewing our commitment to compassion, understanding, and unity.  

This week, the Conservatives presented the 2024 provincial budget. To nobody's surprise, this budget was a disappointment packed with reannouncements and without meaningful solutions to address the issues that matter most to members of our communities. It's clear the government is out of ideas and is doubling down on out of touch policies.  

If you were looking for change, Ford's budget isn't for you. I've heard from so many community members here in St. Paul's that the government is failing to meet the moment. Our community members are looking for better health care, affordable housing, investment in childcare and education, and so much more. This budget fails the people of Ontario. 

In the midst of a housing crisis, there was zero mention of social and affordable housing. There was zero mention of teachers, educational assistants, student mental health care, or school transportation. There was also zero mention of anti-Black racism, equity, or inclusion—the word diversity was mentioned only once. The budget included no funding for vital take-home cancer treatments, when funding these treatments can be the difference between life and death for so many. We also saw nothing to address the budget shortfalls threatening programs like the TDSB's learn4life classes that I know so many in our community benefit from. The budget also did nothing to clear the backlog in our tribunal system and had zero mention of legal aid.

This budget failed to represent the voices of countless Ontarians who have been fighting for change. BUT the fight doesn't end here. In today's newsletter, I'll do a deep dive into how the 2024 budget falls short on housing and we'll continue to unpack it in the coming weeks. For now, St. Paul's, I'm sure you're left with many questions for Doug Ford and this government. If you click here, you will be able to submit a question, and I'll do my best to get you an answer from this government. 

Budget Deep Dive: Housing

If you were hoping to see an end to the housing crisis, Budget 2024 isn't for you. The Conservatives aren't doing anything meaningful to reduce the cost of buying or renting a home. I've long called for REAL rent control and a ban on abusive above-guideline rent increases—solutions that could urgently address rising costs for tenants in our communities. Neither are mentioned in this year's budget. As noted above, the budget fails to name social and affordable housing, but let's unpack what it DOES say about housing. 

1. The budget admits that it has never been more expensive to own a home. 

The average home in Ontario comes with an astonishing monthly mortgage cost of $4,600 a month, assuming 20 percent down with a 25-year amortization. Young families and newcomers have been completely priced out of home ownership. The government predicts home prices will continue to rise.  

2. Housing starts are going down.

The Conservatives are falling behind on meeting their own goal of building 1.5 million homes by 2031 to address the housing supply shortage.

In a move that was widely criticized, the government lumped long term care home beds into their overall housing count to pump up the numbers to 109,011 in 2023, but even then, they still fall short of their target.

To spur more construction, the government is removing HST on purpose-built rentals and permitting municipalities to lower property tax rates on purpose-built rentals. The government, however, is failing to take on zoning reform to make it faster and easier to build more housing and apartments in towns and cities.  

3. Affordable housing commitments are abysmally low.  

The Conservatives have built just 8% of the affordable homes they said they’d build back in 2018. They’ve built just 1187 homes in six years.   

The government’s progress is so poor the Federal government is threatening to withhold $357M in affordable housing funding unless they resubmit a far better affordable housing action plan.  

4. There's more funding in the budget for municipalities to build infrastructure.  

The private sector will not solve housing affordability.  That’s why we want to establish a public agency called Homes Ontario, which will provide low-cost loans, financing, and access to public land to spur the construction of thousands of affordable and non-market homes. Canada used to be in the business of building homes, and it’s time to do that again.

These commitments, however, do not fully cover the $1B in funding a year lost because the Conservatives curbed municipalities’ ability to collect fees from developers, but they come close. The Conservatives have a history of holding back funding, so we’ll have to watch them closely to make sure they spend it. 

5. A vacant home tax could be coming to a town near you. 

Toronto, Ottawa, and Hamilton already have a vacant home tax, and this move would permit more municipalities to join in.

Ontarians want us to be bolder than this. We've introduced motions calling on Ontario to introduce a province wide vacant home and speculation tax on people who leave their homes vacant or pay the majority of their taxes outside of the province. BC’s version of these laws raised $81M in revenue for affordable housing in 2022 alone.   

I want an Ontario where encampments are a thing of the past because people live in permanent housing. Where a young person can move to a big city, find an affordable rental, and pursue a career. Where families can buy a home and raise their children in good neighbourhoods close to where they work and play.

To ensure everyone has a home they can afford to rent or buy, we need decisive action, from strong rent control, a ban on abusive above-guideline rent increases, an end to unnecessary demovictions, to zoning reform to building thousands of affordable and non-market homes on public land.  You’re not seeing it from this government. You’ll see it from ours.

It's time to recognize IPV as an epidemic

Intimate Partner Violence is an epidemic in Ontario. 

However, despite my many calls, those of my colleagues and most importantly the voices of countless survivors of IPV and their loved ones, the Ford govt has refused to name IPV an epidemic in Ontario which would be a solid start towards ensuring everyone knows the seriousness of IPV and so it could receive the full attention it requires and to strengthen support for survivors!

We will be debating our bill to recognize Intimate Partner Violence as an Epidemic in Ontario on April 10, 2024 @ 6pm. Please join us at Queens Park (111 Wellesley West. Nearest subway station: Queen's Park) if you can. Click here to RSVP. 

If you are from our St. Paul's community please email us at [email protected] subject line: RSVP INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE


Jill in Question Period

Over 400 OPSEU Local 535 AGO workers are on strike! I joined them on the picket line Wednesday and was honoured to welcome a group of them to the Members' Gallery at Queen's Park for Thursday's Question Period. 

These workers are sick and tired of precarious part-time work, contract work, and unfair wages. They are struggling to pay rent and the rising cost of food! Minister Neil Lumsden says he knows the value of AGO and its workers? Then SHOW THEM THE MONET! Invest in arts and cultural workers!

Get their employer, who's funded by the government, to the table and get these workers what they deserve: fair wages, full-time work, protection against contracting out, and liveable hours!

AGO Execs are seeing salary bonuses of up to 59.6%... The AGO CEO’s whopping 400K+ salary + 250K in bonuses as well as hundreds of thousands more in “consulting fees” all the while AGO says there’s “no more money for wages.” Is the Premier going to just sit around and watch as AGO balances its budget on the backs of its lowest paid workers?

Click here to watch my question to the Premier. Thank you Paul, Mark, Charles, Teya, and Ruth from Local 535 for joining me!

Indigenous Languages at Queen's Park

History was made at Queen's Park on Tuesday! For the first time in Ontario's history, MPPs can now speak Indigenous languages at Queen's Park. My colleague and friend, ONDP Deputy Leader Sol Mamakwa spoke on the significance of this change in the house. This change honours the history, language and culture of Indigenous peoples across Ontario and confronts ongoing colonial injustices faced by communities like Kiiwetinoong. Thank you, MPP Mamakwa for your advocacy. This is a small but important step toward decolonization. 

Click here to watch MPP Mamakwa's full speech in the house. 

Protecting Our Crowns

Thank you so much to everyone who joined us for my Protecting Our Crowns: Black Hair Politics event Monday Night! Huge thanks to Simone Wright of Parting the Roots for the outstanding workshop that took us on a journey through the history of Black hair. Black hair discrimination still exists and continues to be perpetuated across Ontario & beyond. This was an important opportunity to learn, engage in conversation, and recommit to dismantling the systemic barriers that continue to this day. There's still so much work to be done.

Thank you everyone who joined us in person and on Zoom for your thoughtful engagement. Thank you also to Aafrien Indian Restaurant for the delicious samosas and to John & the Central Eglinton Community Centre team for providing us with the meeting space.

Black and textured hair discrimination extends into the Film & TV industry where BIPOC performers too often experience exclusion, injury and misunderstanding due to stylists' inexperience and lack of training in styling natural and textured hair. My bill Protecting Our Crowns seeks to address that. Click here to learn more & to add your name:

Presentations with Standing Together & Holy Blossom Temple

This past week, I had the opportunity to attend two compelling presentations. Here, I offer some words of reflection – not verbatim and surely not exhaustive or as eloquently said as the speakers themselves. I invite you to do your research and learn about the work of these individuals and organizations for your understanding.

The first event was organized by Standing Together and took place at the Toronto Reference Library. I echo their calls for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and for the return of ALL hostages, among others. There, I listened in a room packed with hundreds of other attendees as Standing Together leaders Rula Daood and Itamar Avneri spoke of their quest for equity, peace, and social justice for Israeli and Palestinian community members. They spoke of Radical Empathy as a tool for helping individuals most impacted by the terrors of October 7th and the decades-long occupation in search of pathways towards healing and building a shared future where, regardless of one's ethnic or religious identity, Jewish and Palestinian society, along with their allies, can stand together.

They spoke of the impact of trauma on people on the ground and, most importantly, addressed some of the ways that we who are geographically far removed here in Ontario and Canada can help. They pled for an end to divisiveness, appealed to Canadians to be critical of who the "us" and "them" are, and demanded we "choose a side…the side of the people," not that of the Israeli government or Hamas. They explicitly expressed that it is crucial that we not leave them alone or forget their anguish or these atrocities but that we continue to amplify the voices of Jewish and Palestinian people being harmed and killed during this humanitarian crisis in Gaza. I believe there is a record of the presentation, and I will include it in a future newsletter if we can get our hands on it.

Rula and Itamar were kind enough, after their grueling days of multiple events and meetings here in Toronto, to also join me and several of our local St. Paul’s community members and some neighbors at my Queen’s Park office for an intimate meeting. A handful of community members got to ask a few questions about Standing Together and, for the first time, had a chance to voice their feelings about what had occurred in Israel and Palestine pre and post-October 7. This interfaith, interpolitical meeting was a start at courageously entering difficult conversations, and we did so with people in my office across political stripes and with differing opinions. Despite our many differences, we came together to listen, to speak, to express our frustrations and hopes. The meeting was too short, as so many of them are, but it was a start. The space created, as uncomfortable as it was at times, also had moments of alignment. I look forward to helping facilitate more of these spaces where we can meet. As Standing Together articulated, you cannot ‘stand together’ without having had the space to yell and scream, to discuss difference, to acknowledge trauma, to talk about power and privilege, but as Rula expressed, the more that can be done with time, it becomes more palatable to sit in the room together and plan for that shared future that all Israelis and Palestinians deserve.

The second event I attended was here at home in St. Paul’s, at Holy Blossom Temple. It was a panel titled Seeking Justice for the Victims of Sexual Violence on October 7. I want to thank Rabbi Splansky and the Women of Holy Blossom for creating an evening where we could listen to a panel of speakers, including Dr. Guila Benchimol, Meghan Stephens, Tiffany Moller, and Dahlia Lithwick, who spoke from their positions in law, media, restorative justice, and advocacy on the need to believe survivors, including Jewish women and men who were victims and survivors of sexual violence on October 7 and beyond.

As a survivor myself of child rape, I attended this meaningful presentation to show my support for and belief in the Jewish victims and survivors of sexual violence on October 7 and beyond, whom I will likely never meet. I also attended for Palestinian prisoners, victims, and survivors of sexual violence pre and post-October 7, whom I will likely never meet. More locally, I attended in honor of Jewish and Palestinian families here in St. Paul’s and in our province who are mourning the loss of their loved ones, those being held hostage, and those being held in prisons for speaking out against elected leadership. I attended in honor of the many BIPOC women, especially Black and Indigenous, Trans women, and others who are marginalized and historically not believed. We must believe ALL women who are able to speak up, and we must believe victims who can no longer speak for themselves.

Regardless of a victim’s identity, their political beliefs, or their geography, rape is NEVER resistance, and rape should never be used as a weapon of war. We have seen the consequences of this since the beginning of time, whether it be wars, genocides, the transatlantic slave trade, or the ongoing legacy of colonialism right here on Indigenous land – women’s bodies, and also those of children, have heinously been used, abused, and sexually attacked as a show of patriarchal, military, and colonial power and control. I was especially struck by Dr. Guila Benchimol and her words on the role of community in the recovery of trauma. Now more than ever, women survivors need the world to believe them, not question their accounts or those of others who speak for those who cannot speak for themselves! Especially for those of us who have experienced sexual violence, we need to join them in their calls to be believed. This must include us standing with Jewish women.

This was a heavy week and there will be heavier still, but I remain deeply grateful that I was able to attend these opportunities to listen and to learn more so I can continue to show up for our home here in St. Paul’s and beyond. Should you want to be connected to either of these event organizers please reach out and I’d be honoured to help connect you.

How it started vs. How it's going...

Today began as a wonderful day to join a couple of fabulous St. Paul's community members and artsits at the Ontario Science Centre. We had a beautiful day plan ahead of us. We are deeply invested in the Save Ontario's Science Centre campaign and are intent on it staying where it is. We aren't buying Ford's 650 million dollar spa/underground parking lot scheme!

BUT the universe appear to have had other plans for me today. 🙄

I had a VERY dramatic fall witnessed by dozens of strangers (aren't those falls the best? lol - NOT!) I saw stars with pain, my friends. STARS! Thank you to the little girl who quickly ran to my aid and gave me my cell phones and other items that flew into the sky as I tumbled to the ground and thanks to the security department for your help too. I am so thankful to my dear constituents who quickly got me to the hospital (you know who you are) and sat with me for a while for support. 

Thank you also to the caring health professionals who have made my wait for care as comfortable as possible. I'm hoping I can shake this off sooner than later. Send me positive vibes! 

I plan to return when I'm all healed up to revisit this iconic building. It must stay in Toronto-Danforth community where it belongs. We cannot afford to lose it.

St. Paul's Spotlight

This Good Friday, I had the pleasure of meeting with some local community members at Thai Noodle (62 Vaughan Road). They have delicious lunch specials. I had a wonderful time chatting with the workers about politics and community care. I absolutely love this place and don't get here enough. Check them out!

Climate Corner 🌎

While my visit to the Science Centre may have been cut short, today's newsletter features our second Climate Corner that discusses Ontario Place, the Ontario Science Centre, and the impact of the government's plans have for the environment. Thank you once again Mike & Lyba from SCAN! Toronto for this important submission.  

Take a walk on the waterfront

When you reach Ontario Place you will see a high construction wall which until recently was covered with artwork by local residents.  It was not a commissioned mural.  It was the work of people who were coming every Sunday to renew the artwork as a protest on the lack of access to a beloved public resource.

This guerilla protest, the nearly-kilometre long blackboard, has now been covered up with what some local residents are calling "propaganda."

You have likely heard about Therme’s plan for a private spa at Ontario Place.

John Lorinc writes about the environmental impact of building a private mega spa at Ontario Place: the clear-cutting of hundreds of mature trees on the West Island, the destruction of a migratory bird sanctuary, the lake contamination caused by the inevitable dumping of huge quantities of chlorinated water, and the large carbon footprint. (Read more here.)   

Privatization and the environmental impact are bad enough, but adding insult to injury is the plan for parking.

The province would need at least 2,700 parking spaces to support the three tenants underpinning the redevelopment of Ontario Place: Therme, Live Nation and the Ontario Science Centre. (Read more here.)

To sum up: this would be a private spa on public land with a 95-year lease. Read more and consider offering support to Ontario Place for All.

The Science Centre

This brings us to the second serious issue: the plan to move the Ontario Science Centre from its current location in Flemingdon Park to Ontario Place.

The Science Centre at Ontario Place would be downsized to one third the size of the current building.  The local community, especially school children, have benefited from its proximity for years.  

What does this have to do with climate?

The Science Centre was built to complement its treed ravine site with a view to last 200 years, not 60. Like Ontario Place, governments have allowed it to degrade. The current government is planning to dismantle one of the world’s best science museums.  According to Save Ontario's Science Centre “renovation of the current building is both more environmentally and socially responsible and considerably cheaper than building the proposed new, smaller facility at Ontario Place”.

Ironically, the new LRT station at Don Mills and Eglinton is already named for the centre. Perhaps it will be renamed Condo East.

Community Bulletin Board 📌

Computer Skills for Seniors

The Learning Enrichment Foundation is sponsoring a Computer Skills for Seniors: Introduction to the Internet course in partnership with Oakwood Vaughan Oasis for Healthy Aging. 

Who the course is for?

  • You are a senior living in Oakwood Vaughan
  • You want to be able to use online resources
  • You are not up to date about changes in technology
  • You are available to attend all 6 classes

What you will learn?

  • How to connect with the internet
  • How to use a search engine
  • Practical skills to navigate the internet and search a website
  • How to use hyperlinks and bookmarks

About the course:
Each participant works on one of our laptops. The class pace is slow, with 1:1 support in the classroom. 

Wednesdays April 3 - May 8
11 AM - 1 PM

OV Community Hub
529 Vaughan Road
Enter by Door #9 off Winona Drive, Room 122

To register, email: [email protected]

The Stop's Tax Clinic:

The Stop's Debbie Jenkins Tax Clinic is back from March 6 to April 25th at 1884 Davenport Rd. 

What you need:

  • Photo ID and social insurance number (SIN)
  • Proof of income (T4 or T5 forms)
  • Rent receipts (if you have them)

Wednesdays 9 am to 3 pm. 

  • Limited virtual appointments are also available. 

For appointments:
Phone: 437-231-1169
Email: [email protected]


Basking in their light: Out of the Cold Art Showcase & Sale

After four long years we are thrilled to be back!
Artists from Beth Sholom and Beth Tzedec Out of the Cold Program have reunited in the Art Circle. They are so excited to share their talents and exhibit their work. The artists proudly invite you to the 2024 Art Show and Sale.

Where: Beth Sholom Synagogue (1445 Eglinton Ave W)
When: Sunday, April 7th from 1 to 3 pm - Artists' speeches at 2 pm
The Art Circle is a safe space where everyone, from the novice to the experienced artist, can come together. Hardship, perseverance, kindness, and creativity are shared.

The artists receive 90% of the sale of their artwork. The remainder goes towards framing and art supplies.
Admission: Pay what you can (suggested $5.00).

Music by Juno Award Winner Richard Underhill, Harley Card, and Ethan Tepper.
Refreshments will be served.
The Beth Sholom and Beth Tzedec Out of the Cold Program provides hot dinners, bagged lunches and clothing to those in need.


Community One Foundation 2024 Rainbow Grants

Community One Foundation is now accepting applications for their 2024 Rainbow Grants. 

Rainbow Grants provide funding to foster new and innovative services and programs that have a positive impact on the 2SLGBTQ+ community in the Greater Toronto Area (including Toronto, Durham, Peel, Hamilton, York, and Halton Regions, and Indigenous Communities across Ontario) under the following streams:

  • Indigenous Communities
  • Refugees
  • Trans Communities
  • Spiritual/Social Groups
  • Arts & Culture

Click here for more information and to download the application guide. 

The deadline is Friday, May 3rd, 2024 at 11:59 pm. 


Toronto Western Family Health Team is accepting new patients

Are you looking for a family doctor or nurse practitioner?

The Toronto Western Family Health Team is accepting new patients living in the neighbourhood. 

They have a team of health care professionals working together with you for your health care needs. Their team includes:

  • Doctors/Nurse Practitioners
  • Nurses
  • Chiropodist
  • Dietitian
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Pharmacist
  • Physiotherapist
  • Respiratory Therapist
  • Social Worker

They offer a broad range of programs and services, interpretation, and offer extended hours and urgent same day appointments. 

Click here for more information


Affordable Housing Application

150 affordable rental homes (starting at $1,589) will be available starting Summer 2024 at 1283 Dupont St. Those eligible can apply now to be entered in the random draw for 1, 2, and 3 bedroom units.

Deadline: April 30th, 8PM
Click here to learn more!


First Jew In Canada: A Trans Tale

This Trans Day of Visibility, March 31, LGBTQ+ at the J and the Ontario Jewish Archives present The First Jew in Canada: A Trans Tale, written and performed by S. Bear Bergman

In 1738, a young transgender man named Jacques LaFargue set off from France to what is now Quebec City, determined to make for himself a new life. The First Jew In Canada: A Trans Tale is his largely untold story, embroidered onto the bones of nine verifiable facts about his life and existence, and interwoven with the modern experience of a trans and Jewish immigrant to Canada three hundred years later. A thrilling and illuminating tale, The First Jew In Canada takes its audience on a stubbornly Jewish journey of optimism, faith, and joy - including the joy and affirmation of finding an ancestor you never knew you had.

More information about Bear, the play, and accessibility can be found at


OVCO Homework Hub

Check out Homework Hub at the Oakwood Vaughan Community Hub in Vaughan Road Academy (529 Vaughan Rd). 

The program is offered Wednesday from 4 to 6 PM and is open to students in grades 4-8. Sign up for support with:

  • Homework
  • Reading, writing, math
  • Test prep
  • Organization

Register at [email protected].


OVCH Space for Rent

Also from the Oakwood Vaughan Community Hub!

There is an 800-900 sq. ft. classroom space available for community programming on weekdays at the Oakwood Vaughan Community Hub in the former Vaughan Rd. Academy.

Contact Peter Clutterbuck, OVCO Board member and Community Hub Chair by email ([email protected]) or by phone (416-738-3228) for more information. 


My Main Street Applications:

Applications are now open for My Main Street's Business and Community Activator Streams.

My Main Street is a $15-million investment to foster the stabilization and revitalization of main streets across southern Ontario. The program will offer streamlined direct-to-business supports and complementary programming for community projects that will encourage growth and economic prosperity.

Application deadline is March 31, 2024.

Click here for more information. 


Hillcrest Community Food Bank Needs Your Help

The Hillcrest Community Food Bank (2 Vaughan Road) needs URGENT help filling their shelves!

The need for food in our community is increasing and they're in urgent need of MORE food (and household items) to meet this higher demand. Please contact them via Instagram if there is anything you can do to help or if you are a local business that would be interested in becoming a community partner. Food donations in kind or monetary donations to their Canada Helps website would be greatly appreciated.


Hillcrest Village BIA Meet & Greet

On April 4th from 5-7 pm, join the Hillcrest Village BIA for a Meet & Greet at Bloom Bar Studio.

This is an opportunity to meet the BIA Board of Management, learn about BIA neighbourhood initiatives, and share your thoughts for the future. Join the BIA team for a casual evening with food, drinks and friendly conversations. Don't miss this chance to connect with fellow residents and business owners! 


Become an Organ Donor

In Ontario, 1,400 people on average are waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant while thousands more are in need of a life-changing tissue donation. They are our friends, neighbours, colleagues, and, in some cases, members of our own families.

When you register as a possible organ and tissue donor, you have the potential to change the story for someone in need.
One donor can help over 80 people get back to life.
Register your consent to become an organ and tissue donor after your death and tell your family so they can help honour your wishes.
Did You Know?

  • Any Ontario resident who is 16 years or older and has an Ontario health card is eligible to register as an organ and tissue donor
  • Everyone has the potential to be an organ and/or tissue donor, regardless of age or health.
  • People from every major religion have donated. Many religions support donation or respect and individual’s choice.
  • The first and foremost concern for health care professionals is to save lives. Only when a life cannot be saved does organ and tissue donation become an option.
  • It takes two minutes to register or check your status at You can also register in person at any ServiceOntario location.

More information about the donation process, who can register, and the importance of speaking to family can be found online at


Learn to Prevent an Overdose

Each year across Ontario, thousands of lives are lost to overdoses. We need every level of government to prioritize implementing harm reduction strategies to combat these senseless deaths, and you can help.

As many of you know, Naloxone is a medication that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, and these kits are FREE with training at participating pharmacies across the city. Together, we can prevent unnecessary deaths and work toward a more compassionate society that is safe safe for everyone.

Find a pharmacy with Naloxone kits near you, and make sure you can recognize the signs of an overdose.


In solidarity, 

Dr. Jill Andrew, Ph.D

MPP, Toronto-St. Paul's

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