Today, Ontario reported 563 new cases of COVID-19, marking the first time Ontario has reported more than 500 news cases since Oct 5. This has increased our seven-day average to 404, beginning the first upward trend that we’ve seen in case counts in almost two months. While this is not cause for alarm just yet, it should be something that we keep an eye on, and let’s hope that this increase in infections that we’re seeing does not last.
Yesterday, the Ford government released its Fall Economic Update – and I have to say that while I didn’t expect much from the Ford government, it still left me disappointed.
The top-level lowlight of this announcement was that the Ford government is cutting $500 million from the education system in Ontario, a decision that is inexplicable given the current state of affairs in Ontario schools.
The focus for Ford seems to continue to be on his buddies, as his government has continued to key in on the construction of Highway 413, despite fierce local opposition to the proposal.
Past those two top level items, the Ford government has also failed to address a significant number of issues that they should be acting on immediately, from the need to increase the wages of PSWs, to lowering the cost of childcare, housing, hydro bills and more. There are concrete actions they ought to have taken to make life better for Ontarians – and they have once again simply refused to act.
In moments like these, I think about how an NDP government would have acted right now – by ending low wage policies, introducing measures to rein in the high cost of living, hiring thousands of nurses and PSWs, and investing – not cutting – from education.
Another bombshell dropped today at Queen’s Park when it was discovered that Minister Greg Rickford was involved with a residential school settlement that has left residential school Survivors feeling betrayed and further victimized.
Prior to his election, Rickford worked as a lawyer. In one of his cases, he represented residential school Survivors, including signing onto an agreement on behalf of his clients. Afterwards, dozens of Survivors filed complaints about the firm’s handling of their compensation – including an allegation that Rickford’s partner Doug Keshen transferred thousands of dollars in compensation money owed to Survivors to himself. Keshen was further accused of wrongfully charging Survivors administrative fees and arranging loans at high interest rates.
While these allegations have not been proven in the tribunal process, the allegations raise concerns about Minister Rickford’s ability to continue in his role as the government lead on the residential school searches, or in his role as Indigenous Affairs Minister.
Today, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and MPP Sol Mamakwa were joined by Lac Seul First Nation Elder and Order of Canada recipient Garnet Angeconeb, and residential school Survivors Edmund Metatawabin and Darlene LaForme – who made it clear that they don’t feel comfortable with Minister Rickford taking a lead role in the search of former residential school grounds.
Further, my friend Sol Mamakwa, who also attended a residential school, has stated he believes that Rickford is simply not an appropriate choice for Indigenous Affairs Minister.
My message here is clear. We must listen to Indigenous voices, and we must ensure that the searches of former residential school grounds are led by First Nations communities and leaders.
It’s time for Minister Rickford to take a step back from his role in the searches.
At the same time as we’re hearing these revelations about Minister Rickford, it’s also Treaty Recognition Week in Ontario, a time when we reflect on the commitments that have been made to Indigenous Peoples, and work towards better honouring those commitments.
Today, in Question Period I entered a petition calling on the Government of Ontario to live up to our commitments.
It’s Holocaust Education Week in Ontario, a moment when we should all take the time to educate ourselves on the Holocaust and ensure that we never forget. This week is also a moment when we stand together with Jewish communities as we remember the millions of people who lost their lives in the Holocaust.
Further, we reflect on the many heroes who fought valiantly against the Nazi regime, and against antisemitism – a fight we must continue today.
If you’re looking for an event to tune into this week, where you can learn more about the Holocaust, I would suggest these two that I will be checking out.
Local Events and Callouts
Planned Parenthood is running an important drop in for young men and masc youth this fall and winter. Here is what their program will consist of in their own words!
Calling all young men/masc youth ages 16-26 in Toronto! Feeling isolated? Looking for a chill space to connect with others? Join us for virtual hangouts in our community hub space every other Friday from 5:30pm-6:30pm, for socials, workshops, and discussions! Spots are limited. This space prioritizes marginalized and underserved youth. Contact Makai at [email protected] to register.
Grocery gift cards will be provided for participants, and a limited amount of financial support for virtual accessibility is available.
Next, the AppleTree Group are looking for volunteers to help build an ice rink in June Rowlands Park (220 Davisville Ave)! If you’re interested in helping this year, they’re asking folks to email them directly at [email protected].
I know I’m looking forward to getting out there soon!
Next, in a very exciting announcement, I am thrilled to announce the winners of my Halloween Costume Contest! The submissions were spooktacular, and I honestly couldn’t pick just three.
So here are the four winners:
Photo 1. The Beetlejuice family – Iris, Alex, Olivia and Gabriel.
Photo 2. A tall caramel macchiato, featuring Stephanie!
Photo 3. Little Sophia with the adorable homemade corn costume.
Photo 4. Caroline, keeping Halloween 99.9% germs-free with her hand sanitizer outfit.