Community News Update - May 31, 2024

Dear Community, 

Tomorrow marks the beginning of Pride Month! As a Black Queer MPP, I am proud to stand alongside members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and look forward to the many opportunities this month to CELEBRATE our identities in the Queer community. 

While so much progress has been made, we cannot stay silent when 2SLGBTQIA+ youth are under attack by hateful politicians across the country. Let us not forget that Pride started as a riot in the face of violent attacks against 2SLGBTQIA+ community members for simply being who they were. I invite you to take this month as a time of reflection on how you'll recommit to fighting oppression and ensuring that 2SLGBTQIA+ folks are safe 365 days of the year. 

June is also National Indigenous Heritage Month. This month is a time to learn, reflect and honour the ways of life of all Indigenous peoples across Ontario. 

I continue to stand in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples and support the struggle for their rights. This includes clean drinking water, equitable access to health care and education, safe and dignified housing, and the recognition and activation of the United National Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

I invite all non-Indigenous Ontarians to join me this Indigenous History Month to read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's 94 Calls to Action, and commit to dismantling the systemic discrimination and injustices against Indigenous Peoples across Turtle Island.

 

Queen's Park News

MPP Sol Mamakwa Makes History

On Tuesday, MPP Sol Mamakwa made history when he spoke Anishininiimowin (Oji-Cree) in the Legislature. This was the first time a non-"official" language was allowed to be spoken. 

At a time when Indigenous languages are being lost, speaking Anishininiimowin not only serves as a monumental milestone but also as an important step towards reconciliation. The voices of Indigenous, Black, and people of colour have been systematically silenced, ignored, and erased in these very chambers. Representation matters and Tuesday brought Indigenous Peoples one step closer to being seen and heard in this Legislature. 

Click here to watch this historic moment. 


 

Jill in Question Period

This government is abandoning small businesses during an affordability crisis. Businesses here in St. Paul's have been hit hard by the pandemic, and many are still trying to recover. 

According to the Better Way Alliance, small businesses are being served 0%, 50% rent increase. Some rents are being DOUBLED. This is unacceptable. I, alongside my ONDP colleagues, have called for a commercial rent freeze to implement standard leases for commercial tenants. These demands have been ignored by this government. I'm proud to support their https://commercialrent.ca/ campaign to support our businesses.

We know businesses in ACROSS St. Paul's are hurting. Just this weekend, the Oakwood Hardware had its final weekend before shutting its doors. The Oakwood Hardware, like so many businesses in our community, isn't just a restaurant. It's a beloved gathering place for our neighbours. Its impact on the community was on full display at last Sunday's Block Party (thank you to Toronto Music Alliance for organizing!). The government must do more to ensure we don't lose these vital spaces.

Click here to watch me in Question Period.

 

Harm Reduction is Health Care

Harm reduction IS health care. Full stop.

Earlier this week, I stood in solidarity with nurses, community members, frontline workers and advocates at Queen's Park to call on this government to immediately fund lifesaving supervised consumption sites. It's the LEAST this government can do. 

We've lost too many lives—THOUSANDS—to overdose and the drug poisoning tragedy. We heard rom family members whose loved ones have been taken far too soon. These are preventable deaths. The government MUST invest in harm reduction strategies to immediately save lives. 

Thank you to the RNAO, healthcare workers, community members, and allies for your advocacy yesterday and always. I will continue to stand with you until your demands are met. I was honoured to table the petitions you delivered to me on your behalf in the legislature on Wednesday.  

 

Metrolinx Refuses to share problems and progress with community

Earlier this week, Global News revealed that Metrolinx denied their FOI request for a list of ongoing problems with the Eglinton Crosstown LRT. They also requested to view the monthly construction progress reports by the contractor building the route. This request was also denied. 

Our community deserves to know when and if the Crosstown LRT will ever open! What is Metrolinx hiding!?

The Minister of Transportation claims that Metrolinx has been "transparent with the public," but blocking FOI requests doesn't sound like transparency to me... We deserve to know what's happening with this decades-long fiasco!

Click here to read more. 

 

Real Rent Control Now

On Wednesday, I tabled a petition at Queen's Park on behalf of HUNDREDS of community members in St. Paul's calling for the return of REAL rent control. 

Toronto rent prices are out of control. We are in a housing crisis and rent control is a tangible way to stabilize the cost of rent for tenants across this city. Ontario had full rent control once upon a time, but this government callously removed it in 2018. Community members are being forced to leave their homes and leave the community. This isn't fair. 

I was proud to table this petition on behalf of all of you, St. Paul's. Thank you to everyone who signed. It's time to the Premier to listen to your demands. 

Click here to watch me deliver the petition in the chambers and click here to add your voice to this ongoing fight!

 

Ontario Health Coalition Rally

Yesterday, I joined thousands to say NO to Doug Ford's healthcare privatization scheme. Healthcare should be based on need—NEVER the size of your wallet!

I will continue to fight until every single person in Ontario has access to the healthcare they need when they need it. Thank you to the Ontario Health Coalition and every healthcare workers and ally who came out to yesterday's rally. The Premier needs to listen to the people and reverse course immediately!

 

Delta Days at Queen's Park

Yesterday, I met with the Social Action Committee of the Greater Toronto Area Alumnae Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. It was an honour to welcome their group to my Queen's Park office and discuss a number of provincial issues that impact Black, racialized and gender-diverse communities, children and youth advocacy, affordable housing, and the issues facing Black women and girls across Ontario. 

Thank you for visiting! 

 

Jill in Community

St. Michael & All Angels Community Buzz Day

It's been a BUSY week with LOTS of opportunities to engage with community members! On Saturday, I started my morning at the Wychwood Barns Farmers Market and then headed to the Community Buzz Day at St Michael & All Angels Church. I had a wonderful time chatting with some of our local artists, small business owners, and community organizations—and of course, I had to share a dance with the legendary Lay Pastor Jenni Feheley.

Thank you Jenni and Ashley, and the wonderful St. Mike's community volunteers for a wonderful event!

 

Oriole Park Junior Public School May Fair

From St. Michael's I travelled to Oriole Park Junior Public School for their annual May Fair! Despite the HEAVY rain that drove the festivities indoors, the party was electric! And what a wonderful day it was for the kids! They were literally BURSTING with energy. I have so much respect and admiration for the parents, guardians, teachers, and caring adults who look after them!

Thank you to Principal Neil Quimby, teachers, staff and parent volunteers who made this event a success. During the fun and games, I also had an opportunity to chat with parents about the urgent need for affordable childcare spaces in this province. It's time for this government to invest in our ECEs (pay them what they are worth) and ensure parents have access to affordable spots so families can thrive! $10-a-day childcare anyone? It's about time!

 

 

Doors Open Toronto - Nia Centre for the Arts

I've got a question for you, St. Paul's! Where does "art make culture?"

Answer: Nia Centre for the Arts!

We were very fortunate to have several iconic St. Paul's locations featured in last weekend's Doors Open Toronto. On Saturday, I had a chance to visit the Nia Centre for the Arts. This is quite an incredible building to experience! Their new performance space is STUNNING and not to mention the incredible acoustics! You will be blown away. 

As a part of last weekend's activities, they were hosting workshops in collaboration with Noha Collective, a "youth-led group dedicated to celebrating and showcasing the rich artistic and cultural expressions of the Afro-diaspora. Their mission is to create a world where our vibrant cultures are fully appreciated, respected, and celebrated. These events are another way [they] promote dialogue across borders and cultures to uplift our community."

On Saturday, I stopped by solo and unplanned but just in time to catch a beautiful tour of the space facilitated by Jacqueline, a retired educator and sincerely a wealth of knowledge!

I didn't take many photos, so no spoiler alerts! Come see the space for yourself—its sugar cane-inspired interior, the arts, the labs, the green room (omg!), and all the good stuff. I'll be taking another tour soon!

 

 

CUPE 4400 "United We Stand, Divided We Fall" Training

On Sunday, I was honoured to join members of CUPE Ontario Local 4400 Toronto Education Workers for their "United We Stand, Divided We Fall" Conversation on Equity, Solidarity, and Power. 

I heard from caretakers, educational assistants, international language educators, early childhood educators, lunchroom workers, and other professionals within our education system. These workers are giving their all to support kids with exceptional needs – autistic kids, kids who are medically fragile, kids who don’t have English as a first language, and other children and youth who perpetually end up receiving the short end of the stick due to the staffing crisis in our schools.

These workers made it very clear to me that the emergency is NOW. Doug Ford and Minister Lecce must address the staffing shortfall immediately. It’s harming both students and the adults responsible for them in our schools. As many of you are aware, the Ford government has cut $1500 in per student funding, and we’ve lost north of 5000 caring adults in our classrooms. This is unacceptable.

Rather than fixing the staffing shortage HE created, Ford and Lecce’s solution is combining 2-3 classes together with one adult responsible. This is absurd – ONE teacher and MAYBE an EA in classes with over 40 students!? Sometimes with multiple kids with special needs in these amalgamated classrooms!? I also heard from caretakers who say they aren’t being told they cannot submit work orders, and are not being given adequate supplies to keep our schools clean. This is a health and safety issue! This road leads to disaster.

The Minister of Education loves to talk about the plan to “catch students up,” yet as many of the education workers raised, schools have seen classrooms shut down and critical resources cut. How are students with high support needs expected to “catch up” without the resources there to properly support them!? Support staff are being tossed into classrooms without the necessary skill sets to support high-need students, all while the number of students per adult is decreasing significantly. And this isn’t just a TDSB problem, this is happening across the province. These workers are doing their best, but there simply aren’t enough human bodies in our schools! 

All of this is happening while the government continues to claw back Autism funding and supports for students with disabilities. These cutbacks are harming kids! We need MORE support for autistic students, including STABLE support staff, so students aren’t having to get used to new faces every single day, and more respite rooms.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – when the government underfunds public education it’s the most vulnerable students who suffer most. We know that equity and inclusive curricula and practices have been severely impacted under this government’s policies. Ford and Minister Lecce have muzzled certain age appropriate equity resources within our schools. This move can only make inequities and discrimination against racialized, 2SLGBTQIA+ and students of other identities made marginalized, worse.

In fact, just this year, Lecce removed the TDSB’s Facilitating Critical Conversations teaching resource, because he didn’t like its mention of “white supremacy”. If our schools are unable to NAME these issues, how do they stand a chance to resolve them?  

I’d like to thank all of the workers who shared their experiences yesterday. These workers need their day. Their voices deserve to be heard by the Premier and Minister of Education! If you’re an education worker and have a story to share about the impact of Ford’s callous cuts to education, we want to hear from you. Comment below or send me an email at [email protected]!

 

Oakwood Hardware Block Party

After spending the morning with our Toronto Education Workers, I headed to the Oakwood Hardware to show them a little love on their last weekend. Thank you to David from Toronto Music Alliance for helping us celebrate the incredible Anne and her staff, and all the memories we've made here as a community!

 

90th Urban Woods Scouting Group

On Wednesday, I joined Scouts from the 90th Urban Woods Scouting Group at Cedarvale Park. These youth give back so much to our back to our St. Paul's community. 

We had a great conversation about provincial government, opposition, and the various ways to get involved, and why it's important to be active in politics and community - especially for young women! I emphasized the importance of staying true to your values and finding your passion - key elements in making a positive impact. 

Thank you once again to the Scouts for their enthusiasm, dedication to service and environmental stewardship. And thank you to the Scout leaders for inviting me!

 

20th Anniversary of Salsa in Toronto

What a joy it was to kick off the 20th anniversary of TD Salsa in Toronto yesterday!

Salsa on St. Clair is the BIGGEST event of the year in our St. Paul's community. It also happens to be the biggest celebration of Latino culture in Canada. It draws hundreds of thousands of people into the heart of Hillcrest Village for non-stop dancing in the streets! People from near and far get to experience our St. Paul's community. The festival is an economic powerhouse for our local Hillcrest Village BIA, city, and the province.

Thank you to TLN Media for having me at yesterday's celebration. I was proud to present a scroll on behalf of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in recognition of 20 amazing years of Salsa! Don't miss this year's festival from July 6 to 7th! https://salsaintoronto.com/

 

ETFO Conference

After the Salsa celebration, I visited the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario! It was an honour to be asked to provide the keynote remarks at their Next Steps Leadership Program. 

We candidly discussed navigating the personal, political and professional, equity and social justice, and ways to make time for self-care. I recognize that I am still a work in progress to that last piece. I want to thank the group from the bottom of my heart for their thoughtful questions. The conversation truly could've lasted all night.

 

55 Brownlow Picnic

Yesterday, I was proud to meet with tenants at 55 Brownlow and No Demovictions to discuss a deal with the developer that will stop them from being forced out of their community. These tenants shouldn't have had to fight this hard for this partial win, and the province needs to reinvest in affordable housing and protect tenants rights to stop the hollowing out of our urban communities.

 

Meeting with Dignitaries in Little Jamaica

Today, I joined the York Eglinton Business Improvement Area in welcoming High Commissioner Marsha Coore-Lobban and Consul-General Kurt Davis to Little Jamaica along Eglinton West. They visited to highlight the connections between our countries created by the vibrant Jamaican-Canadian diaspora community here in Toronto. I was glad to be a small part of showing our visitors everything Little Jamaica has to offer. 

 

St. Paul's Small Business Spotlight 🔦

It's no secret that I love Krave Coffee in our Hillcrest Village neighbourhood! Located conveniently down the street from my community office, they're the perfect pit stop between work events. The rhubarb croissant and lemonade hit the spot! And guess what? In the evenings Tues-Fri, they turn into a bar with weekly Trivia every Friday at 9 pm. 

Check them out! Located at 781 St Clair Avenue West. 

 

Climate Corner by SCAN! Toronto 🌎

The planet is heating up - and so are we
In our last Climate Corner, we talked about adapting to wildfires. “Mitigation” refers to preventing climate warming; “adaptation” refers to preparing for these inevitable catastrophes as the climate warms.

One of these events is heat waves.  In 2021 we added the term, “heat domes” to our climate disaster vocabulary along with “atmospheric rivers”.

Heat has a major impact in schools, childcare centres, hospitals and nursing homes.  It poses a serious threat to seniors, people who are unhoused and outdoor workers.

In British Columbia’s 2021 heat wave, more than 600 people died. 67 per cent were aged 70 or older; and 56 per cent lived alone.
Half of Toronto St. Paul’s residents are tenants.  Many live in apartments with no air conditioning.  City Council could consider a maximum indoor temperature bylaw along with other heat relief actions for tenants. 

Adults of all ages work out of doors in construction and road maintenance.  We also have to consider the needs of migrant farmworkers who have little legal protection.  They all require adequate breaks in a cool area and access to drinking water.

What is Toronto doing?
Aside from the City’s climate plan, TransformTO, the Board of Health has written two reports with recommendations: “Public Health Impacts of Climate Change in Toronto: A Path Forward for Responding to the Climate Crisis” and “Climate Change and the Role of Public Health”.  It will be up to City Council to discuss and implement their recommendations.

Council can also strengthen building codes to make homes and other buildings more resilient.  They can increase green space to reduce the impact of heat.  Public spaces like playgrounds should have an increased tree cover.  And we need more cooling centres that are open for longer hours.

What can you do?
If you live in an apartment, when the temperature reaches 30+ degrees, consider designating floor captains to check on people.  

Who are the vulnerable people in your neighbourhood?  Can a group of neighbours organize to check on them during a heat wave?
If you own a house, find out if it will sustain a green roof.  Give your trees a lot of love.

When we have green roofs, urban green space, building insulation and water conservation, all of these measures will work together towards both mitigation and adaptation. Let’s get serious.

 

Community Bulletin Board 📌

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)

 

Green Neighbours 21 - Clean Energy Retrofits

Thursday, June 6 at 7 PM, join Green Neighbours 21 for an information session about how to do clean energy retrofits to your home. 

The event will take place at St. Michael & All Angels Parish Hall (611 St. Clair Avenue West). 

Email: [email protected]

 

Supa Rich Kids Dance Workshop

Supa Rich Kids Dance Workshop
 
June 6, 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM | Located at Nia Centre for the Arts, 524 Oakwood Ave

For the Young at Heart. (Seniors, 60+) - curated in collaboration with Nia Centre for the Arts and Luminato Festival

In this workshop, Oulouy together with his international crew Supa Rich Kids, made up of himself, Yemi Osokoya, Ambrose Tjark and Ordinateur, embark on a journey that will make you discover nowadays Africa as never seen before through the dance steps that are causing a sensation on the continent. A workshop that will take participants to experience the joy of dance shared in collectivity. A chance to reveal the healing and interpersonal power of dance, while listening to each other's beat.

RSVP online for Supa Rich Kids Dance Workshop using this LINK
OR Call to RSVP at 416 535 2727 ext. 703 from 10am - 6pm, Mon - Fri

 

Vendor Applications for MYBIA Summer Fest

📣 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 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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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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