Community News Update - May 17, 2024

Dear Community, 

I'm wishing everyone a happy Victoria Day long weekend! My community office will be closed on Monday, May 20th for the holiday. We will return to the office on Tuesday, May 21st. 

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOTB)

Today is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia(IDAHOTB). 

Now more than ever we need to stand with one another, and we need allies standing with us against rising levels of hate, homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia in Ontario, our nation, and across the globe. There can be no place for hate — not here at home and frankly, nowhere else. 

Yesterday, I attended the Rally for Queer Rights and Queer Refugees as a part of Rainbow Equality Week of Action. I am deeply thankful to The 519The African Centre for Refugees,  Queer Momentum, and Capital Pride for their leadership in making yesterday's rally happen. It was also great to witness my colleagues, Kristyn Wong-Tam, ONDP 2SLGBTQIA+ Critic, and Marit Stile, Leader of the Official Opposition, deliver heartfelt words of solidarity. 

 

This morning I was honoured to kick off IDAHOTB as the keynote speaker at MLSE and Toronto Pride's 2SLGBTQIA+ Youth Conference. This year's theme was "Be _____." It was a deep honour to speak to the youth in attendance about my own coming out story as well as the need for action from all levels of government, and across party lines, to ensure that every young queer person in this province is safe, seen, valued, and affirmed in their identity. 

Thank you to MLSE and Pride Toronto for organizing this event and for inviting me to be a part of it!

 

ACTRA at Queen's Park

On Monday, I was honoured to stand with locked out ACTRA performers during their press conference and #WeRiseUp Rally at Queen's Park. 

It's been over two years since ACTRA members across Canada were locked out of the National Commercial Agreement (NCA) by the Institute of Canadian Agencies (ICA). The ICA walked out of negotiations with these commercial performers after the NCAs 60-year history and six decades of fair collective bargaining. Two years is TOO long. This is an insult to workers everywhere. 

Let me be clear, this lockout has been propped up by Ford's Conservative government, who've hired ICA agencies to create the infamous Government of Ontario ads patting themselves on the back. The choice to work with locking out agencies, who are essentially hiring replacement workers, is a slap in the face to the 15,000 ACTRA members in Ontario who've had their opportunities and dreams quashed for the last two years. 

Monday started with a press conference with ACTRA Vice-President and member, Kate Ziegler, ACTRA Toronto member, Asante Tracey, and ACTRA Toronto Executive Director, Alistair Hepburn. Then, we filled the galleries during Question Period. I was proud to amplify their demands alongside MPP Jamie West directly to the Premier, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, and Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport. We're calling on this government to do the following:

  • Help the ICA get back to the bargaining table;
  • Stop using union-busting advertising agencies that pit unionized performers against replacement workers, especially during a labour dispute, and;
  • Support the ONDP's Bill 90, Anti-Scab Labour Act to protect ALL union workers in every sector from being merely replaced and exploited. 

The Minister of Labour responded to our Questions by saying he would call the heads of the ICA agencies. This is a promising first step and a testament to the power of workers' solidarity. With so many cultural workers filling the gallery that morning, how could the Minister say no? Now it's time to hold him accountable to that promise. 

Following Question Period, I joined hundreds of members outside for their rally in front of the Ontario legislature. We were joined by MPPs across party lines, ACTRA members, labour leaders, and allies. The ICA must get back to the table. Actors like Kate and Asante, and the thousands of other ACTRA commercial workers, deserve respect from their employers and this government. Their dreams and livelihoods are on the line. 

Click here to watch the full press conference. 

Click here to watch my question in Question Period. 

Funding for Public Education

On Monday, we put forth a motion calling on this government to immediately increase funding for public education by $1500 per child to account for inflation. Shamefully, this government chose to vote against our proposal, sending a message to students, parents, teachers, and education workers across Ontario that they don't think children in this province are a priority.

We're seeing the lowest levels in per student funding in over a decade. This government's chronic underfunding translates to a lack of teachers, support staff, and the resources necessary to ensure that every child has access to an inclusive and equitable education. 

The Minister of Education claims to care about equity. Earlier this year, he announced the introduction of Africentric education to the Ontario curriculum. While a welcome step, these equity commitments are meaningless without adequate funding to actually implement these programs, and implement them well. We know the most vulnerable students in our education system suffer the most due to the lack of funding. Just last week, I spoke with delegates from CNIB and David Lepofsky who raised the urgent need to hire more teachers of students with visual impairments (TVIs). This is not possible without real investment in our public education system. 

I'll continue to fight alongside my ONDP colleagues to ensure the public education system gets the investment it deserves. Every single child across this province deserves access to a high-quality, publicly funded education. We cannot afford to leave the children of this province behind. 

Click here to watch my speech in the legislature. 

Conservatives Shut Down Lydia's Law Debate

Survivors didn't get their day in court, now they lost their day in the legislature. On Tuesday, without warning, the government used its majority to prevent Lydia's Law from being debated or voted on. Hundreds of survivors were scheduled to be at Queen's Park on Wednesday to watch the debate of this bill, which is designed to help survivors of sexual assault seek justice.

Let me be clear, it's highly unusual, even for the Conservatives, to prevent a bill from being debated. They did this because the bill is embarrassing for them. For a government that claims to be tough on crime, they have created a system where perpetrators of violent sexual assaults continue to walk free due to the understaffing of our court system. This move is an insult to survivors, especially those who did not get their day in court because of delays. The fight doesn't end here. I will continue fighting alongside my ONDP colleagues to ensure every survivor gets their day in court. 

Lydia's Law would increase transparency and accountability in the handling of sexual assault cases in Ontario by adopting key measures, which include: 

  • Ensuring the Attorney General monitors criminal cases pending for 8+ months, and documents the reason for delays
  • Making the Independent Legal Advice Program more accessible to survivors
  • Launching a review of the Victim Quick Response Program to ensure it is meeting the needs of survivors

Human Rights Petition

On Tuesday, I was proud to present a petition signed by 2252 people calling on this government to implement mandatory human rights education for all Ontarians. I was asked to present this petition on behalf of MPP Peter Tabuns who could not be in the chambers Tuesday afternoon. I was especially honoured to present the petition with over 40 community members present in the gallery, including the iconic Rosemary Sadlier. 

Click here to watch me deliver the petition to the legislature.

Feed Ontario Lobby Day at Queen's Park

On Thursday, I met with delegates from Daily Bread Food Bank and St. Thomas Elgin Food Bank at Queen's Park. Food insecurity in Toronto is at an all-time high. Food Banks in our Toronto—St. Paul's are at capacity and struggling to keep up with increased demand. 

According to Feed Ontario, 1 in 4 Food Bank-using households rely on government social assistance as their primary source of income. However, we know that Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) rates have failed to keep up with the rising cost of living, leaving community members living in legislated poverty. Feed Ontario is calling for reforms to OW to help recipients afford basic necessities and escape poverty. Thank you to the delegates for meeting with me!

ETFO at Queen's Park

On Tuesday, I met with delegates from the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) to discuss the state of our schools. Doug Ford's chronic cuts to education continue to hurt students and the caring adults who support them. Safety in schools, mental health, and equity are all in danger if proper investments aren't made now. 

Thank you to Helen and Pam from ETFO for your time on Tuesday. My door is always open and here's to many more strategy sessions!

Jill in Question Period

Pre-trial detention is disproportionately applied to Black, Indigenous, and racialized individuals compared to white individuals for the same and similar charges. The John Howard Society of Toronto is on the frontlines advocating for a just and reformed bail system. They're calling on the government to invest in bail supervision programs. The province spends millions of dollars annually to incarcerate people who are legally innocent and awaiting trial. The government could save money by investing in proper evidence-based community interventions that address the root causes of violence. Yesterday, I rose in Question Period to ask this government what investment they're making in these vital, and life-saving reforms to our criminal justice system. 

Click here to watch my questions to the Premier. 

Ontario's Legislative Page Program

It was great to meet Sophie, a brilliant young leader from our Toronto—St. Paul's community participating in the Legislative Page program at Queen's Park. Whether she pursues corporate law, ER medicine, or becomes a veterinarian—or decides to become an MPP or anything else in between—the SKY is the limit for Sophie! She's smart and incredibly funny! We had some great laughs over lunch, and she gave me some winning tips too. Oh, and she's a cat person too!

The Legislative Page Program allows students from across Ontario to come to Queen's Park and participate in the parliamentary process. Applications for the Fall 2024 program are now open. Click here to learn more!

"Here I Stand" - Concert and Conversation with Julian Taylor

Last Saturday, I had the honour of being part "Here I Stand" - Concert and Conversation with Julian Taylor. This was a beautiful evening of Julian's music, followed by a conversation about Afro-Indigeneity with some remarkable members of our community. 

I'd like to extend my deepest gratitude to the Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Group and Elder Catherine for presiding over this event and offering a traditional opening and closing. Thank you also to our surprise guest, Lillian Allen, Poet Laureate of Toronto, for offering two poems following the concert. I am deeply grateful to each of the panelists, Julian Taylor (Afro-Mohawk), Tamara Este (Afro-Mi'kmaq), and Rev. Brigid Maya Douglas (Afro-Taino) of St. Matt's. Our conversation explored Afro-Indigenous identity, intersectionality, white supremacist thinking, structural racism, and the continued fight for justice for all peoples. 

St. Paul's Small Business Spotlight

You need to try Capocaccia Trattoria in Midtown! The picture does NO justice to their INCREDIBLE Tiramisu. It was heavenly, and so is their wonderful pasta and fried calamari. Most importantly, if you go, you may be lucky enough to receive service from Georgia! She is amazing. 

Check them out at 1366 Yonge Street!

Community Bulletin Board 📌

Colours of Spring - A Jazz and Brass Celebration

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 Payne 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!

 

Oriole Park Junior Public School May Fair

Bring your friends and family to Oriole Park School's Annual Mayfair on Saturday, May 25th, 2024! There will be lots of fun and activities for the whole family.

Oriole Park Public School is located at 80 Braemar Avenue, one block west of Avenue Rd. at Eglinton.

All proceeds go toward enriching childhood education at Oriole Park School. 

 

McMurrich Junior Public School May Fair

The McMurrich Junior Public School Fun Fair is back! Join them in the school yard, May 30th for a party from 3:10-7:30! Stay tuned for more info on ticket pricing and purchasing options! 🎟️
🎵 live music and performances
🎪 bouncy castles and tons of activities
🍔 food trucks and BBQ
🍦 ice cream and other yummy treats

 

13 Division Open House

Join Toronto Police Services 13 Division for their Open House! The event will feature station tours, a free ice cream truck and BBQ, coffee & treats, and a kids zone!

Date: Saturday, June 1st, 2024
Time: 10AM- 3PM
Location: 13 Division Station ( 1435 Eglinton Ave W)

 

Vendor Application for MYBIA SummerFest

📣 ATTENTION SMALL BUSINESSES 📣

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!

 

Eglinton Way BIA Farmers' Market

Join the Eglinton Way BIA every Sunday from June to October at the Eglinton Way BIA Farmers’ Market! Located at 125 Burnaby Blvd, come by between 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM for fresh produce, local vendors, live music, kids’ activities, and vibrant energy.

 

Learn to Prevent and 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

Latest posts

Community News Update - June 21, 2024

Dear Community,

Join me and Save Ontario's Science Centre on Sunday in Wells Hill Park to speak out against Doug Ford's scheme to move the Ontario Science Centre to Ontario Place, which has now led to the surprise closure of the Science Centre.

This benefits no one. Not the people of Toronto who are losing a beloved insitution or the 400+ employees of the OSC, many of whom will lose their jobs.

Meet us in Wells Hill Park at St Clair and Bathurst to tell Doug Ford NO.

RSVP here

Community News Update, June 14, 2024

Dear Community,

The house rose early for the summer on Thursday last week, so it's been a full week of community events.

QUEEN'S PARK NEWS

Raise ODSP and OW Rates

Before the house was adjourned early by the conservative government, I was proud to table a petition calling for the doubling of ODSP and OW rates in Ontario.

Recently, I heard from Disability Without Poverty - Ontario at their Queen's Park Lobby Day. People with disabilities in Ontario are struggling to make ends meet. Enough is enough. It's time to raise the rates!

Thank you to Dr. Sally Palmer for sharing this petition with my office. I will continue to stand with you until these demands are met.

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