Community News Update - May 10, 2024

Dear Community, 

This Sunday is Mother's Day! Happy Mother's Day to all mothers and "mothering" people in Toronto—St. Paul's and beyond.

Mothers come in many forms. I am sending love especially to Queer moms who love their children in a hostile world, immigrant and refugee moms building a better life for their children, Indigenous mom's who share their teachings, Black moms who remind us our skin is beautiful, single moms who truly do it all, chosen moms, and all kinds of mothers in between. I am also thinking of those of you who've lost or never had a mother. Whether your memories are good, not so good, or deeply painful, I see you too. 

This is the first Mother's Day since my own mother became ill. Things haven't been easy, but I am grateful for every single day I get to spend with her. I love you, mom! 

Queen's Park News

Support ACTRA at Queen's Park

April 26th marked the two-year anniversary of the lockout of ACTRA performers by the Institute of Canadian Agencies. This has cost too many ACTRA performers their dreams, livelihoods, and in some cases, their homes. These are some of the most precarious workers in our province. 

Meanwhile, this government continues to work with locking out agencies to produce non-union ads with public money—a slap in the face to the THOUSANDS of ACTRA members across Ontario struggling to make ends meet. 

Enough is enough! On Monday, May 13th I will be hosting ACTRA members at Queen's Park alongside MPP Jamie West for a press conference at 9:45 AM before Question Period.

Join us at NOON on Monday in front of the Legislative Assembly for a We Rise Up Rally. Let's call on the ICA to get back to the table and negotiate in good faith. All are welcome!

For those interested in attending Question Period, please RSVP by emailing [email protected]. RSVP by emailing [email protected]. RSVP is required to enter the Legislative Assembly. 9 AM arrival time. 

Keffiyeh Ban

Tuesday, I was removed from the Chambers located on the 2nd floor of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. 

I was removed because I brought a keffiyeh into the Chamber. Wearing a keffiyeh, having it visibly on your desk, or holding it to your heart, as I had, coupled with tallit, got me kicked out of the legislature. The tallit, for those who do not know is a Jewish prayer shawl. I was gifted this by a Jewish community member in Toronto—St. Paul's who is vehemently against the keffiyeh ban, like I am. As I sat in the legislature with these two powerful shawls of identity, of culture, of heritage, and religion for Palestinian, Arab, Muslim, and Jewish folks respectively over my heart, I knew I was "defying the keffiyeh ban." Clothing can liberate, resist, and help define. It does many things. 

Make no mistake. These groups are inextricably linked. Their freedom, their safety, their peace, and their liberation depends on the liberation of each other. 

Here in Ontario, we must ensure that every Palestinian, Arab and Muslim Ontarian can walk into their Chamber and not have to check their culture at the door. As for the keffiyeh being political, arguably, everything personal to us—our culture, heritage, ethnicity, race, gender, sexuality, spiritual connections and/or religion—is also political. Everything personal IS political. 

However, Premier Ford, who was once against the ban, but now "doesn't mind" the Speaker's 'compromise,' has politicized and weaponized the keffiyeh, which has further deepened the already painful divisions in our community in St. Paul's and across Ontario. It has helped to bolster anti-Palestinian racism while also feeding into fears many Jewish people are already feeling in our communities. Essentially, the Speaker has told Ontarians through his ban, supported by the Premier, to fear keffiyehs and those who wear them. 

Together, we must stand against policies that attack people's civil liberties, freedoms, and human rights, and this keffiyeh ban is one such policy. I stand with ALL who are against this undemocratic and dangerous ban, and I pray those who support the ban will find clarity. 

In the words of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who wore his Tallit as he marched for civil rights on Selma with Dr. Martin Luther King when he was asked if, as a Rabbi, he had time to pray with everything else happening around him at the time and he said, "I prayed with my feet."

In the context of these chambers at Queen's Park that means showing up even when we are afraid as I was Tuesday, and standing for what is right. As I said to a reporter, we can walk and chew gum at the same time. We can do politics, we can demand housing, health care, education, everything while also fighting for human rights, civil liberties, and not only our personal groups but for all. We all can in some way "pray with our feet."

CNIB at Queen's Park

On Tuesday, I was proud to speak at the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) Reception at Queen's Park as a part of their Lobby Day. It was also an honour to formally welcome their delegates to the People's House during Tuesday morning's Introduction of Visitors. 

CNIB is advocating for all children to have their first vision test before their first day of school, enhanced teacher education and in-school supports, updated programs and services to reflect the Education Committee of the National Coalition for Vision Health's national standards for education of children living with blindness or low vision, and updates to the existing curriculum to enhance inclusivity. I am proud to support their calls. 

Thank you to all of the CNIB advocates who spoke. Special thank you to David Lepofsky and the mother who shared her personal story of finding out about her child's vision impairment and the importance of early vision health screenings for children.

Question Period: Doctor's Shortage

2.3 million Ontarians are currently without a family doctor. This government could reduce physician workload and allow them to take on more patients by expanding interdisciplinary health teams. This is something that could be done RIGHT NOW to reduce the burden on our health care system and allow doctors to focus on seeing patients. 

I was proud to have Kathleen Christie in the member's gallery on Monday for Question Period. Kathleen is a retired senior from our Toronto—St. Paul's community. Kathleen wrote to my office to share her distress with this government's "disinterest and incompetence in solving the physician crisis."

I rose in Question Period to ask the Premier why his government refuses to act with the urgency this crisis requires and if he can explain to Kathleen, and so many others across this province, his plan to attract, recruit, and retain family doctors here in Ontario. 

Click here to watch the full question. 

Ontario Caregiver Support Benefit

Yesterday, I stood in support of MPP Wayne Gates' motion to create the Ontario Caregiver Support Benefit. This motion calls on the government to create a paid benefit for unpaid caregivers in Ontario. 

I, alongside my ONDP colleagues, have long called for the creation of this benefit. Caregivers are a seminal part of our health care system, especially as we see health care being undermined by this government through chronic underfunding and understaffing of health professionals. 

This motion is deeply personal to me. Outside of my mom's extraordinary team of health care specialists, her family doctor, PSWs, and community programs, I am her primary caregiver. 

I understand the struggle and am routinely balancing both work and caregiver commitments. I know the burnout this can cause. When you're caring for a loved one, you aren't just a caregiver. You become a student again: cramming everything you can about your loved one's health condition. You learn every possible treatment, intervention, tool, or program. You become their 5-way caregiver-researcher-administrator, banker, and advocate trying your best to keep all the balls in the air and they never do.

My mother becoming ill was a difficult and flat out EXPENSIVE and sudden life shift. This shift is 10 times worse for givers who have no paid sick days, no affordable child care, or who care for multiple loved ones across intergenerational households. It's worse for caregivers on ODSP and OW and moderate-income earners like Chrissa, a single mom in St. Paul's who finds herself balancing rent against food. Too many caregivers are drowning in debt, tapping into their saving, and taking unpaid time off work to give their all to their loved ones.

The MAJORITY of caregivers are women. And the majority of caregivers who end up having to leave their jobs to care for their loved ones are also WOMEN. Closing the gender wage gap is an economic priority and this benefit gets Ontario one step closer. 

By implementing the Ontario Caregiver Support Benefit (OCSB), the government can help offset expenses shouldered by unpaid caregivers. Love can move mountains, but it doesn't pay the bills. Thank you to MPP Gates for putting this motion forward and all the organizations who've had a hand in its development. Thank you for your advocacy!

Please read and share the letter issued by the Ontario Caregivers Coalition to Premier Ford here

Click here to send a letter to your MPP in support of this motion. 

Ontario ACORN at Queen's Park

I was pleased to join Ontario ACORN for their Lobby Day on Thursday at Queen's Park. It was an honour to speak at their press conference alongside Green and Independent MPPs. 

I am proud to support their demands for real rent control on all buildings—new and old—and a ban on abusive above-guideline rent increases (AGIs). Everyone in Ontario deserves stable, safe, and affordable housing. Full stop. ACORN organizers across Ontario to advance tenants' rights, especially here in Toronto—St. Paul's. I'm proud to stand with them and support their calls. 

Delegates from Trinidad and Tobago

This afternoon, I had the incredible honour of welcoming delegates from the Parliament of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to my community office. The delegates included the Hon. Bridgid Annisette-George, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Adrian Xavier Leonce, Minister in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, MP Dr. Rishad Seecheran, Senator Deoroop Teemal, and Ms. Chantal La Roche, Director of Legal Services.

We discussed the issues that matter in our respective constituencies and shared knowledge of how we approach constituency work. I am grateful to each of the delegates for their public service, knowledge sharing, and their commitment to the people of Trinidad and Tobago. We have so much to learn from one another!

Fairbank Public School at Queen's Park

Fairbank Public School brought the house DOWN at the Legislature earlier this week. The school choir had the opportunity to sing the national anthem in the chambers! Bravo! We had to do some clowning around during their tour! Priorities first, of course!

Jill in Community!

Commonwealth of Dominica Ontario Association Spring Fling

I had a beautiful time on Saturday celebrating the incredible Caribbean country that is Dominica — my mother's place of birth! Thank you Andria Lewis-Alexander, President of the Commonwealth of Dominica Ontario Association, and your entire team for a fantastic evening at your Spring Fling "Supporting and Building Community Within our Community. Thank you for inviting me to be your keynote!

It felt amazing to be surrounded by community members, old-time friends AND family from Toronto—St. Paul's, Scarborough, Malvern, Pickering, Brampton, and others (I lost count!). I gave my mom ALL your love and well wishes!

We ate, we laughed, we witnessed those super talented Ti Madames who did their thang dancing Wob Dwiyet AND we got to lay our eyes on Toronto Revellers, Asha Emmanuel and Sisserou Mas! I didn't get to dance because I had to get to yet another event, but man, I'm looking forward to the picnic this summer!

Tarragon Village Community Clean Up

On Saturday, I started my day at Cawthra Playground for a spring clean up with Tarragon Village community members! It was wonderful to chat with neighbours, including our local city councillor Josh Matlow! We see community care on full display across Toronto—St. Paul's and Tarragon Village is no different. Way to go!

Cinco & Liz's Wedding

Sunday, we celebrated a very wonderful couple from our Toronto—St. Paul's community at St Michael and All Angels church. Congratulations Cinco and Liz on your marriage! The ceremony was absolutely beautiful. 

St. Paul's Spotlight

Last weekend, Oakwood Pizzeria celebrated their 50 Year Anniversary! Congratulations to Ed, Leslie, family and staff on this wonderful milestone. Businesses like theirs are the heart of our community. I was deeply honoured to present them with a scroll of appreciation.  And if you haven't already, make sure you get your hands on their pepperoni. It's king! 

Community Bulletin Board 📌

Here I Stand: A Concert and Conversation with Julian Taylor

Join us tomorrow for "Here I Stand:" A Concert and Conversation with Julian Taylor. This will be an opportunity to listen deeply to Taylor's music and understand how it resonates with Afro-Indigenous communities in his hometown of Tkaronto. The event will be presided over by Anishinaabe Elder Peduhbun Migizi Kwe. I am deeply honoured to be hosting the conversation!

The event will include a cade, a traditional opening and closing, and a time of sharing with St. Matt's Afro-Tainu minister, Rev. Brigid Maya Douglas, and Afro-Mi'kmaq Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Group founding member, Tamara Este. 

Where: St Matthew's United Church (729 St Clair Ave W)
When: Saturday, May 11th from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM

Click here to purchase tickets. 

Ontario Place for All Court Date

Ontario Place for All's next court date is set for Monday, May 13th at Osgoode Hall, Courtroom 3 at 10 AM. 

The organizers of Ontario Place for All are asking for the court to order the province to conduct a full environmental assessment of the Ontario Place project. The case will be heard by a panel of the Divisional Court on Monday. 

They're calling for community members to join them outside the court from 9 AM to 10 AM to show their support for Ontario Place! Members of the public are also invited to view the court proceedings. 


The Stop's Green Barn Open House

The Stop is hosting their First Annual Green Barn Open House! It's taking place on May 16th from 4-7PM at 601 Christie Street, the action packed evening will include:
🍕 Freshly made wood-fired pizza and refreshments by donation
🌱 2,000+ seedlings available for purchase (over 30 varieties, $4/each)
🌿 Free garden and art activities
🎵 Live DJ
See you there!


Colours of Spring - A Celebration of Jazz and Brass

Sunday, May 26th at 2 PM join community at St. Matthew's Church (729 St. Clair Avenue W) for Colours of Spring - A celebration of jazz and brass. 

The concern will feature performances by the Patti Pay Trio and Quatuor de Fleurs. This event is not just a concert, it's a Fundraiser for the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign of the Stephen Lewis Foundation. Make a difference together! Mark your calendars and get ready for a memorable time filled with music, community, and the spirit of giving. See you there!

Click here for tickets and more info!


Black CAP Board Recruitment

Black CAP is seeking board members who are engaged in Toronto's African, Caribbean and Black communities. Black CAP's Board is also highly committed to recruiting self-disclosed PHAs (people living with HIV-AIDs) to lead the development of the organization and strongly encourage PHAs to consider this opportunity. 

While not exclusive to these criteria, at this time they are recruiting and will prioritize candidates possessing the following competencies:

  • Legal
  • Governance
  • Human Resources
  • Finance and Risk Management
  • People Living with HIV/AIDs members
  • Fundraising
  • Youth Members (ages 18-29)

Interested candidates should visit their website and complete the board recruitment form here. Completed applications must be returned by 5:00 pm on Friday, May 17, 2024. – earlier is better. Members must have signed up 1 month before receiving voting privileges.


Vendor Application MYBIA Summerfest


Get ready for the biggest event Midtown has ever seen on July 20th! 🎉 The BIA is now calling for vendors offering food, crafts, clothing, accessories, services and more! Applications are now open. The Midtown Yonge BIA team will reach out to coordinate next steps. Click here to apply. 


Hillcrest Village BIA Contest

Discover Hillcrest Village BIA from May 1st to May 31st, 2024, and Immerse yourself in the unique charm of our community, explore local businesses, and enter for a chance to win the Discover Hillcrest Village BIA Contest. Whether you're a longtime resident or a first-time visitor, join us in celebrating the spirit of Hillcrest Village and supporting our beloved neighbourhood businesses.

Get ready to discover, explore, and win big! Start your adventure by entering the contest by visiting the link!


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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