Community News Update - May 31, 2023

Dear community,

Tomorrow, June 1, marks the beginning of Pride Month!

What should be a celebratory time, however, is starting off on a hateful foot. Earlier this week, York Catholic District School Board voted against flying the Pride flag; in other words, a symbol of inclusion, belonging and acceptance for 2SLGTQIA+ children & youth. Instead, this decision teaches them that who they are and who they love is wrong, and like the flag itself, should be hidden; a narrative that is often internalized with lifelong repercussions for queer or questioning students.

When asked about the decision yesterday, Ford had "no comment". 

That's right. With yet another opportunity to stand up for what's right - for marginalized students - shown to him on a silver platter, he dog whistled to homo & transphobic hate groups in fear of losing their votes. Shameful. The utter lack of leadership we need as we enter a Pride Month marked by a sharp increase in hate crimes against the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.

Know that your Ontario NDP Queer Caucus and our allies in the Party will not stand by idly to let this happen. Watch Kristyn Wong-Tam, our 2SLGBTQIA+ Issues Critic, school Ford this morning in Question Period on what allyship really looks like.

This morning, Ontario Health Coalition joined Queen's Park to drop off tens of thousands of ballots cast in the citizen-referendum they hosted over the weekend, asking Ontarians what THEY want; private, for-profit or public, universal healthcare?

These tens of thousands of votes were just a FRACTION of the total, too. In fact, from west to east, north to south, hundreds of thousands of Ontarians made their way to the polls to cast their votes with overwhelming support of saving public healthcare! While Ford has a hard time hearing us in opposition, the resounding YES from Ontarians to keeping profit out of healthcare is impossible to miss.

Thank you to Ontario Health Coalition, local health coalitions across the province, the thousands of volunteers who made this weekend possible, and YOU for getting out there to make your voice heard.

It's about that time of year again when many of us suffer through the sweltering heat in too-warm apartments! Make sure you know your rights when it comes to air conditioner installation and fees!

Didn't get your hands on my 2023 tenant guide? Email my office at [email protected] to request your copy and ask any and all AC questions! We're here to keep you COOL!

Speaking of tenants' rights, it's important to know yours and our office is always here to help so that you do, or when they're being infringed on.

That was certainly the case for the folks at 1600 Bathurst, who received an illegal notice stating they'd be charged for a service previously included in their rent. Thankfully, they got in touch in which I was happy to let their property management company know they were breaking the law (something I have a sneaking suspicion, they knew as well). 

This is something I see all too often; greedy housing profiteers working around the rules of Residential Tenancies Act, in hopes their tenants won't notice, and is exactly why I created my annual tenants guide as a tool against bad-faith moves like this one.

Our office is also ready to equip you with the tools you need as a tenant, and to take action when your own tools aren't enough, by emailing [email protected].

Want to give your kid a front row seat to all that goes down at Queen's Park? Well, now's your chance through the Legislative Page Program, with applications open now until June 15, 2023.

Each year, grade 7 & 8 students are selected to take part in the coveted program, acting as aides to MPPs in the chambers, while also getting to see and learn of Ontario's parliamentary process, meet members from both sides of the aisle, and make friends from all across Ontario, Having seen many students of St. Paul's take on the important role over the years, and hear the joy and lifelong memories they & their families made, I highly encourage your child's application.

Learn more of the program and how to apply here. If you have any questions, reach out via email at [email protected] or by phone at (416) 325-7457.

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.

Toronto Cares Initiative will be hosting their Spring Into Summer Social Fundraiser on June 14th - you don't want to miss this!

Do you know someone who is a passionate member of Toronto’s Black communities, and interested in guiding the continued work of the Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism? Applications to join the Partnership and Accountability Circle (PAC) are now open and will close on June 6th, 2023.

Through direct and ongoing engagement with the Confronting Anti-Black Racism (CABR) Unit, the PAC partners with the City on municipal efforts to help the City of Toronto better serve Torontonians of African descent. The Circle will:
1.    Provide guidance and advice to CABR Unit staff in the planning, implementation, evaluation and reporting on the continued work of the Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism and the closing of the United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent;
2.    Contribute insight, analysis, information, and strategy to CABR Unit service and policy planning that impacts outcomes for Torontonians of African Descent;
3.    Advise the CABR Unit on areas where the City should be taking a lead, facilitating or convening to effectively advance positive outcomes for Torontonians of African Descent;
4.    Support partnership development with Black communities, leaders, organizations and institutions to advance positive outcomes for Torontonians of African Descent; and,
5.    Facilitate transparent and effective communication and engagement with Toronto’s communities of African descent

At all times during their membership, all PAC members must meet the following criteria:
•    Be a Black Torontonian (African descent or origin; African, Black, Caribbean; African-Canadian; Canadians of African descent);
•    Be over the age of 12 at the time of applying to be a member; and,
•    Reside in Toronto

The membership of the PAC consists of 12 Torontonians of African descent or origin with diverse lived experience which includes:
•    Four elders (who self-identify) who represent the wisdom of the community to hold the integrity of the Circle’s principles, values and practices;
•    Four youth (ages 13 to 29 years old) with diverse lived experiences; and,
•    Four people who represent key stakeholder groups from African descent or origin communities (key stakeholder groups include health services, social services, arts and culture, business and corporate sector, government).

The PAC is intended to be inclusive and reflect the diversity of Black Torontonians (African descent or origin; African, Black, Caribbean; African-Canadian; Canadians of African descent) including people from various sexualities, faiths, disabilities, and incomes.

Benefits of PAC Membership
•    Training and skills development opportunities
•    Recognition
•    TTC fare, parking, child care and food (for meetings and workshops)
•    Honorarium ($100/meeting and $200/full-day activities)

To learn more about the PAC and application process, join us for a virtual Information Session using Webex on May 30, 2023 from 6:00 – 7:00PM by registering at the link: Submit your application by June 6, 2023 for consideration. To apply for the PAC, please visit the application page:

If you have any questions about the PAC or application process, please email: [email protected]

In Solidarity, 

Jill Andrew
Toronto-St. Paul's

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