The House resumed today and my top priority; repealing Bill 28.
Since the day it was tabled, my position was clear. The Keeping Students in Class Act, 2022, was a vicious attack on education workers, parents, students, and ALL workers and should have never have been passed in the first place. Not only did it not keep students in class, it infringed on the human right to collectively bargain, as written in the constitution, through its use of the notwithstanding clause.
While I'm thrilled to have it tossed out, this is only the first step. Education workers are still waiting for a fair deal after they upheld their end of the bargain by heading back to work to keep caring for Ontario students. Rest assured, myself and my Ontario NDP colleagues will continue keeping the pressure on the Ford government to negotiate in good faith and finally pay education workers what they deserve after their wages fell far below inflation over the past 10 years.
Interestingly, Ontario's Fall Economic Statement was also released today making it crystal clear that the government can raise education workers wages to a livable rate that keeps a roof over their head, food on their table, and their wages above inflation. They are choosing not to.
The same way they’re choosing to deepen the healthcare staffing crisis without a single penny more being put to nurses and healthcare workers. The same way they’re choosing to deepen the housing and affordability crises without the needed investment in affordable home starts, bringing back real rent control, and helping working Ontarians pay their inflated bills.
Let it be known. Whether it’s low wages for essential workers, emergency rooms closing, or mounting grocery bills on top of astronomical rents; these are choices made by this government. Choices they are standing behind. Today showed that.
Read our statement.
I also had the opportunity to speak to the government’s Bill 26: Strengthening Post-secondary Institutions and Students Act, 2022 earlier today. This legislation is said to protect students from sexual assault on campus. But upon a deeper dive into how the bill would work, it does not go far enough.
Sexual assault can happen anywhere on campus and sadly, does. It is certainly not limited to employee-student dynamic, as this Bill suggests. Student to student ratios towards sexual assault are damning and cannot be ignored. Yet, they are here. The comprehensive, community-based response sexual assault requires, including annualized funding to rape crisis centres and mental health resources, is also notably missing. Meanwhile, no conversation around dismantling rape culture is complete without one that builds a culture of consent. This government actively disregarded this when they failed to enact MPP Wong-Tam's Consent Awareness Week Act this September.
I urge the Ford government to make these crucial amendments to effectively strengthen post-secondary institutions and give students the protection from sexual violence each of them deserves.
Watch the clip.
Last Friday was Remembrance Day, and I was honoured to attend the twelfth annual Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Foundation Remembrance Day Ceremony at Mount Pleasant Cemetery Mausoleum, where Wing Commander William G. Barker, VC, Canada's first leader of the RCAF is interred.
I am deeply grateful to our veterans who have served and sacrificed for our country, and additionally to the families and communities surrounding our servie members. May these freedoms we enjoy in Canada never be taken for granted. Thank you for your service!
Last week, I rallied in solidarity with the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1587 to amplify their call for fair and just bargaining after they expressed concerns related to worker safety and contracting-out. After a strong display of union strength, ATU received a tentative deal from Metrolinx and have resumed work. This is what democracy looks like!
I was excited to meet with some folks from ArtWorksTO: Skills for a Creative Future, which provides opportunities for youth artists who are IBPOC and/or 2SLGBTQ+ to gain professional experience. This meeting included a constituent artist from Toronto-St. Paul's, Eileen, whose work blew me away!
Residents of Cedarvale and Upper Village have organized around the immediate relief needed to alleviate traffic congestion spurred by the LRT construction. Those interested in expression concern about this public safety issue are encouraged to sign their petition and take note of their calls to action!
Residents and businesses alike are deeply affected by this ongoing issue, and public trust continues to erode. Join with me in amplifying their call for immediate relief.
The UJA Federation of Greater Toronto will be hosting a LGBTQ+ event, "Reimagining Traditions with Chef Liz Alpern" on Monday, November 21. See here to register!
As mentioned last week, this Thursday, November 17 at 7PM, the Oakwood Vaughan Community Organization (OVCO) will be hosting a town hall with TDSB Trustee Shelley Laskin to discuss community use of the former Vaughan Road Academy (VRA). Face masks are required!
A friendly reminder and invitation that Queen's Park is open to visitors! If you or an organization you work with would like to come watch your MPP advocate for people and planet, please email us as [email protected] to set up a visit - I'd love to meet you!