Community News Update - November 16

Dear Community,

This week is Transgender Awareness Week, and I hope you'll join me in honouring and celebrating all two-spirit, trans, and gender diverse folks! Let's commit together to learning about trans history and resisting transphobia.



Earlier today during question period, I had the opportunity to address the Premier regarding the catastrophic Bill 23. From cutting into the province's precious greenbelt, to jeopardizing heritage and conservancy sites across Ontario, this is harmful for ALL Ontarians. But this morning, I got the chance to zero-in on how devastating it is for our Toronto-St. Paul's community.

Firstly, it changes the definition of "affordable" from one based on a person's income to one based on market rates. Well, I can't quite wrap my head around their thinking here as market rates are the whole reason housing is unaffordable in the first place. All I know is that reports surfaced showing that this re-definition means a family or household must make $130,000 to afford the government's version of an affordable home in Toronto. This is not affordable.

Meanwhile, for the 60% of folks who make up our Toronto-St. Paul's community who are renters, this Bill is equally futile. Not only does it not answer to what they need and what our Ontario NDP has long been calling for, such as real rent control including vacancy control, and reno and demoviction protections, it is highly likely to deplete the rental stock that already exists.

Currently, a city bylaw in Toronto states that in order for a rental-purpose building to be demolished, it must be replaced with the same number of rental units in the new development. This Bill would give this government the power to change or erase this, meaning rental buildings are at huge risk of being torn down and replaced with luxury condos no one can afford, all with utter disregard to where current tenants end up. 

Many folks across Toronto-St. Paul's and the province are struggling to make ends meet, and this is doubly true for low-income workers, seniors, and people with disabilities. While I fight against this legislation tooth and nail in the House, I encourage you, community to do what you can to protect yourselves, your neighbours, and the very fabric of our Toronto-St. Paul's community.

Here's what you can do:

1. Submit feedback on rental replacement bylaws at this link.

2. Sign one of the following petitions listed below
Petition from Ontario For All
Petition from Federation of Metro Tenants' Association
Petition from Environmental Defence

3. Send a written submission (electronically) to the Committee considering Bill 23 before the deadline of Thursday, November 17 at 7PM.

4. Spread the word. Tell your friends, family, coworkers, and importantly, your elected officials what makes this bill so harmful! 

Earlier today, our Ontario NDP also put forth a motion calling for an immediate strategy to be put in place to address the staffing crisis affecting our healthcare system, including children's hospitals and ICUs.

You would think seeing a young, vulnerable child attached to a respirator in the hallway of a hospital would be enough. You would think hearing how teenagers - still children - are going to be triaged through adult care instead of at a children's hospital would be enough. You would think  any of the horrors nurses, PSWs, and frontline healthcare workers are forced to see each day as they walk into their jobs to do the caring work our province needs would be enough. Enough to get Doug Ford to act.

But as he proved today, even masking up to follow the advice of Dr. Kieran Moore proved too much (or should I say, politically inconvenient) for him.

The healthcare crisis is a solveable one. It is an active choice of this government not to and paves us further down their road to privatization: their scheme all along.

Sadly though unsurprisingly, the government said no to our motion and in turn, no to Ontarians needing and providing care. But OUR fight for them continues.

As an enthusiastic bird lover, I was thrilled to join MPP Chris Glover, FLAP CanadaNature Canada, and other avian advocates in their call for more bird friendly building design and to discuss the many disastrous effects of Bill 23.

An estimated 25 million birds in Canada die each year as the result of window collisions, including a great many species at risk and migratory birds. This is preventable, if only we take the steps necessary to advocate for all inhabitants of our shared environment!

A special shout out to our young Toronto-St. Paul's resident Isaac for showing up for birds!

Earlier this week, I let you know my thoughts and concerns on Bill 26: Strengthening Post-secondary Institutions and Students Act.

Yesterday, I also met with the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) who shared similar sentiments. That this piece of legislation is a performative attempt to "protect" students without getting at the root of the problem. Prevention.

It also has an interesting side effect we've seen this government show their cards towards before. The interference Bill 26 would have on collective agreements and workers' rights. In the words of my colleague, MPP Wong-Tam of Toronto-Centre, "I think that we need to further dive into it to make sure that we’re actually not going around arbitration agreements, bargaining rights or undermining the effects of a union. We can do both: We can condemn the actions of an abuser and a rapist while protecting those who have the right to support from their unions."

This level of nuance within this Bill proves the importance of committee hearings, which are taking place next week on November 22 from 8-10AM and 3-6PM.

If you have any feedback on Bill 26, we encourage you to make a request to appear here before the tomorrow's (November 17) 5PM deadline. You can also make a written submission before November 22 at 7PM through the same link or our office by emailing [email protected].

Every year on November 16, Canadians come together to honour Louis Riel (1844-1885) on the anniversary of his death. Riel was a French, Catholic Métis who was elected to parliament three times but unable to take his seat due to a $5000 bounty put on his head by the Ontario legislature.

Riel surrendered on May 15, 1885 to a public trial so he could better tell the story of the Métis. A group of non-Indigenous jurors found him guilty of treason, but recommended mercy, which the presiding judge ignored and subsequently sentenced Riel to death.

While the many issues Riel fought and died for remain unresolved, I was honoured to attend the 26th Annual Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Louis Riel Day Commemorative Ceremony at Queen's Park.

On Monday evening, the mentorship program for youth I co-created with Art Starts and For Youth Initiative (FYI) launched with full enrollment! It was a blast spending time with such engaged and creative youth, and to witness the expertise of 3D artist, Arthur Tanga. I can't wait to see what the participants create over the next few weeks!

I attended the Equal Voice reception last night - I'm always excited to speak to young folks about the need for greater diversity in politics. Women and gender diverse folks currently represent only 39% of Ontario legislature and only 34% across Canada as a whole. We can and must do better!

Performer auditions for the Hillcrest Village Community Players will run November 26, 27, and 29 for their production of The Sound of Music! While I've decided to withhold my audition this year, I encourage you all to throw your hat into the ring for a chance to take part in this beautiful production.

Justice Fund has partnered with The Walrus for the second launch of their Writing Residency for Emerging Black Journalists, which begins in December, 2022 and is a paid opportunity.

"Please send your resume and a cover letter outlining your pitch to [email protected] with the following subject line: "Writing Residency for Emerging Black Journalists: [your name]" by 11:59 PM ET on November 17, 2022.

The pitch should include some evidence of preliminary research and reporting. It should be no longer than 500 words and should introduce the story/stories the applicant is pitching, how the applicant would report the story/stories, the main sources they would interview or draw from, and why the story/stories would be a good fit for The Walrus.

Applicants who are selected for an interview may be asked to provide a reference. Only applicants selected for an interview will be contacted."

The CafeTO survey is now live until November 18!

A reminder that 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!

Tomorrow, 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 and all are invited!

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!

In Solidarity, 

Jill Andrew
Toronto-St. Paul's


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