This Sunday is the first night of Chanukah! Of course, Chanukah is a vital festival honouring the endurance of Jewish culture and of the human spirit through the miracle of enduring light. I know that this Sunday many of my constituents will be lighting their menorahs, enjoying latkes and sufganiyot, and finding inspiration in the stories of Judah Maccabee and Judith.
To everyone celebrating, I say Happy Chanukah!
Coming up on Monday, I’m looking forward to attending the Gifts of Light Holiday Concert, hosted by Holy Blossom Temple, honouring the Indigenous community. The concert will be both in-person and online. If you’re interested in learning more or buying tickets to attend in person, click here (attending the concert online is free).
Today, Ontario has reported an additional 927 new cases of COVID-19, bringing our seven-day average to 711. Along with today’s spike in cases, the concern is rising as a new variant of concern has captured global attention. The omicron variant was first reported in South Africa earlier this week and has now been found in a number of neighbouring countries, and around the world in Hong Kong, Israel and Belgium.
In response, the federal government is moving to implement a travel ban for anyone who does not have a legal right to enter Canada, and has travelled to South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Namibia in the past two weeks.
For folks with the legal right to enter the country (citizens, permanent residents, etc..) they will need to be tested upon their arrival from any of the impacted countries. Everyone arriving will must quarantine until they receive a negative test for the virus.
While information is still emerging about this new variant, right now let’s all make sure that we’re continuing to take reasonable precautions against COVID-19 – by getting vaccinated and wearing our masks when necessary.
As we learn more about the omicron variant, I’ll be sure to provide more updates.
If you’d like to read more about this new development here are some articles to check out.
An incredibly frustrating piece of news dropped this week when we learned that there will be, further delays to the opening of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT. With this most recent announcement, according to Metrolinx, the project is now projected to be operational near the end of 2022.
These delays, that have been piling up for years, have had a disastrous impact on the local community across Eglinton. In our community of Toronto-St. Paul’s from midtown to Little Jamaica, residents have been forced to live with seemingly endless construction noise, and many businesses have been forced to close. We’ve seen hundreds of Black-owned businesses go under along Eglinton – and there has been virtually no support to help keep them afloat.
The direct impact that the construction has had on Little Jamaica has been catastrophic.
In 2020, I tabled a motion to “Save Little Jamaica” that included calls for direct financial compensation for businesses impacted by COVID-19, flooding, and the LRT construction of up to $30,000, the creation of a mandated task force to ensure transparent communication between Metrolinx, the Ministry of Transportation and Little Jamaica businesses; historical designation of Little Jamaica to recognize its unique arts and culture contributions and ensuring affordable housing is included in all new builds.
Recently, it came to my attention that in Ontario in order to renew a health card online, you can only do so if you have a driver’s licence as well. This policy means that this process is inaccessible for folks who don’t drive, and especially during a pandemic when we can provide services like this online – we should.
In response, I’ve penned a letter to the Minister of Health and the Ontario Digital Service to ask for them to create a more inclusive process. I’ve also created a petition on this issue – that you can sign here.
Let’s hope for a speedy resolution to this head-scratching oversight.
Community Call Outs
The Toronto Miracle is coming up on Dec 4, where they will be working across Toronto with hundreds of volunteers to gather as much food as possible for those in need. Their ambitious goal is to collect 250,000lbs of food – and I know our community can help get them there. The way that it works is that you register your donation, and on Dec 4, you leave the food on your porch, or at the determined location in your building and they will have a volunteer come to collect it.
Donations are vital this year, as increasing numbers of people are accessing food banks – let’s make sure that this holiday season the food banks have what they need.
To learn more about how you can register your donation, click here.
The Oakwood Vaughan Community Organization (OVCO) is currently hosting a number of community feedback surveys, where they are looking to gather information from the community as they develop an Oakwood Vaughan Community Plan. There are a number of surveys on a range of issues, and if you’re interested in filling them out, click here.
The Regent Park Film Festival started yesterday and will be running until December 2. They will be featuring a schedule of primarily online screenings (with one in-person screening), with a number of exciting films worth checking out. The screenings are free to check out, and if you’re interested in getting registered to watch – click here.
I also want to remind everyone that happening tomorrow (Saturday, November 27), the Barns Art Market (BAM!) will be in full swing from 8AM to 4PM. They will be hosting over 25 vendors with all kinds of art, including fine art, jewelry, fashion items are more.
There will also be drop-in art classes being hosted by the Children’s Art Studio – if you’re interested in attending preregistration is required.
I’m looking forward to checking out the market tomorrow, so if you see me, make sure to say hello!
Finally, on Sunday, I will be hosting a Day of Action on Housing Affordability – where we will gather to discuss housing challenges in Ontario, and how we can best address them, and then we’ll be heading out into the community to canvass our neighbours. We’ll be gathering outside Davisville Station (Yonge and Eglinton) at noon.
If you’re interested in joining – you can register here!
Have a safe and happy weekend!