Community News Update - November 3, 2023

Dear Community, 

The Fall Economic Statement was released yesterday, and once again, the Ford government is failing to deliver real solutions for Ontarians. From shortchanging public healthcare, to the continued failure to bring back real rent control, to padding the pockets of government insiders, not a penny of this government's spending is working for YOU through a province-wide affordability crisis. 
In response, Ontario NDP Finance Critic MPP Fife spoke in the House to the many ways the statement falls short. But most important to me is how you, community, are feeling the impact. Get in touch with how this government's spending is hurting you and your family by emailing [email protected].
Watch MPP Fife's response here and here.

Yesterday, I tabled the Protecting Our Crowns Act, 2023, as the first step to making training mandatory for Black, Indigenous, racialized, natural, and textured hair types in the film & television industries. This Bill was a long time in the making. In 2022, I hosted a panel discussion with industry experts - from actors, to authors, to union leaders - to discuss their own lived experience. Many of them have had to hire their own stylists, out of pocket, to show up on set as specialized training is few and far in between. ACTRA, the union representing many actors across Canada, even launched their own grievance to arbitration calling this exactly what it is: DISCRIMINATION!
While their case was successful, it shouldn't take a long, legal process to receive services readily available to white actors. This is the reason why I've put this forward and will be debating it on November 28th to demand it be passed by this government!
I want to thank the MANY folks who worked alongside me to bring this to life, including ACTRA, UNIFOR-NABET 700, Black Screen Office, Black Women Film, BIPOC TV & Film, Toronto—St. Paul's constituents & actors, Alicia Richardson and Alicia Payne, Aisha Boubacar, Aisha Loobie of Toronto—St. Paul's' Crown N Glory, Janet Jackson of JouJou Hair Studio, Dalmar Abuzeid, and so many more! This couldn't have happened without them! 
Watch the clip here and sign your name to Protect Our Crowns!

Yesterday, I also rose in the House to address a crisis happening in our province; gender-based violence. This year alone, more than 50 lives have been taken to femicide across Ontario. 50 families shattered forever. 50 women who should still be here, living and thriving, today. 
This is more than a crisis. This is an epidemic, which is why 63 municipalities across the province have formally declared this truth. The Ford government, however, has yet to, as a first step to mobilizing the resources needed to reverse the tragic course our province is on. But I'm demanding they do, and will keep doing so until the day it happens.
Watch the clip here.

Earlier today, Ontario's Auditor General announced they will move ahead with a value-for-money audit on Ford's shady Ontario Place plans. This is something your Ontario NDP has long called for, as well as halting the project until their plans are proven to be in the best interests of Ontarians, so this latest development is welcome news.
While the Auditor General cannot comment further until their report is completed, I'll look forward to sharing more as we learn, and as always, continuing to advocate for our precious public land to be kept in our hands (and that $650 million tab in our pockets)!
Read more.

The wait is finally over! Yesterday, I attended the GRAND OPENING Nia Centre's newly renovated location at Oakwood and Vaughan. From workshops to funding opportunities, the centre has supported HUNDREDS of Black artists, students, and mentees in 2023 ALONE. 

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again - if it wasn’t for the arts, I wouldn’t be here. Arts are paramount to our social and economic thriving, not only in our community and province, but across the country & the world. The arts are equally part of strong public health. Organizations like Nia Centre support mental health & well-being by providing space for communities made marginalized to come together, organize, and build community through art. It is SO crucial in a world where we, as Black folks, are constantly fighting, resisting, & rallying against anti-Black racism for these spaces to exist. To hold space for & celebrate Black EXCELLENCE. 

St. Paul's community, join me in saying THANK YOU to the Nia Centre team & all those behind the scenes of this incredible project for bringing Canada’s FIRST professional Black Arts Centre to life for our community and beyond. 

Check out their new space and learn more about how their organization is strengthening Black artistry in Ontario by clicking here

This afternoon, I attended the launch of Hillcrest Food Bank, a partnership between Hillcrest Christian Church & Hillcrest Community School. A BIG thank you to Daily Bread Food Bank, Hillcrest grade 5 & 6 students & teachers, & ALL the volunteers for pouring your hearts into this project. 

This is also an important reminder that food banks, while vital, CANNOT be a replacement for SYSTEMIC change. 

The new space is located in the Hillcrest Church basement (2 Vaughan Rd). Spread the word to folks in need! 

Earlier this week, I attended the AppleTree Group’s Pumpkin Parade in St. Paul’s! This event brings together local families to say goodbye to October’s jack-o-lanterns during the traditional Pumpkin Smash (aka the BEST way to compost!). Fun AND sustainability?! It’s a yes from me! THANK YOU AppleTree Group for hosting this WONDERFUL community event! 

I’m always thankful for the hard work of our local BIAs! Earlier this week, I sat in on the Hillcrest Village BIA’s Annual General Meeting. 

From events like Salsa on St Clair to the beautiful flower baskets that decorate the avenue during the warmer months, the volunteers at Hillcrest Village BIA keep the neighbourhood vibrant!

They’ve accomplished so much during the last year and have many exciting plans for the future. I hear they may even have a holiday event coming up… stay tuned! 

We know that many businesses are still struggling from pandemic losses. Please, if you can, remember to shop local, especially as the holiday season fast approaches. THANK YOU Hillcrest Village BIA for your AMAZING work!

Follow them on Facebook and Instagram to stay up-to-date!

Do you enjoy working with and inspiring youth? Are you passionate about building equitable STEM futures? The Canadian Association for Girls in Science (CAGIS) is recruiting volunteers for their Toronto Chapter to support their STEM programs!

CAGIS is an award-winning not-for-profit organization that supports interest in Science, Technology, Trades, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) among girls and gender-diverse youth ages 7-17. CAGIS volunteers are parents, teachers, post-secondary students, STEM professionals, and other interested members of the community. They support their work by helping to plan, organize, and run their programs. 

Interested? Click here to sign up!

Exhibit your art at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario!
The Youth Arts Program celebrates the incredible artistic talents of young Ontarians aged 12-18. Each year, youth from across the province are invited to display their works of art throughout the Legislative Building, showcasing their creativity and diverse artistic abilities. 

Online applications are accepted from October 10th to November 8th, 2023 – apply now!

As we approach the colder months, this is a good reminder to get up-to-date on your COVID-19 boosters. The XBB 1.5 updated boosters are NOW available. I got mine and I encourage you to join me! 

Consult this page for information about where you can get vaccinated.

TOMORROW! Join local author Catherine Little at Wychwood Barns Farmers Market Saturday, November 4th at 11 AM.
She’ll be reading her book, ENDGAME: The Secret Force 136. All proceeds from her book sales will benefit the Stop Community Food Centre.

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

MPP Toronto-St. Paul's

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