Yesterday was the very first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and like many of you, I took time to listen, learn and reflect about what reconciliation looks like right here in Toronto-St. Paul’s.
I started the morning by tuning into a panel discussion called “Decolonizing Child Welfare”, where I heard a great discussion among experts about the challenges that are still being faced in the child welfare system here in Toronto, and what needs to be done to change that. It was an impactful discussion, and it was great to see Toronto-St. Paul’s own Irwin Elman on the panel.
Following that, I travelled down to Yellow Gazebo Natural Health Care to meet with their owner, Richard Lobbenberg, to speak with him about the work he’s doing to raise funds for northern Indigenous communities to access education through Teach for Canada. Teach for Canada is an Indigenous-led non-profit that helps train and recruit teachers to work in First Nations communities in Northern Ontario and Manitoba.
Next, I travelled just outside our riding to Christie Pits to meet with the Indigenous People’s Solidarity Group from St. Matthew’s who were honouring the day with a ceremony, where they tied ribbons around the baseball diamond in the park.
Finally, I ended my day with a trip to Na-Me-Res (staying outside of course to observe COVID protocols), an incredible organization in our community, to check in with their staff and make a donation to support their program.
If there’s one takeaway from this inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation for me, it’s that we need to be thinking about truth and reconciliation the rest of the year as well. While we need this to be a statutory holiday, where everyone is given the chance to really engage with the day, it’s also not enough to just engage once a year. If we’re really going to address the need for reconciliation in this country, we need to be thinking about these issues all year round, and we need our politicians to be utilizing this lens in the decisions we make.
As your MPP, I want you to know that I’m committed to doing just that.
In COVID-19 news, today we learned that the Ford government is moving forward with making vaccination mandatory for long-term care workers.
While it is good that this is finally happening, the reality is that at this point – this announcement falls short of what is needed in Ontario. This announcement should have happened months ago, and it should have included all health care workers, and education workers as well. It’s absolutely gut-wrenching to think of the harm that has been caused while we’ve been stuck waiting for this policy change, and the reality is that the Ford government is still leaving massive gaps in their vaccine mandate in these important sectors.
I’m glad that we’ll be getting back into the Legislature soon so that we’ll be able to properly hold the government to account on this and many other issues as well.
Today, the minimum wage went up by 10 cents an hour – an increase that is frankly insulting to the workers of Ontario. Including this increase, the minimum wage in Ontario is now $14.35 an hour, a rate that in a city like Toronto is not nearly enough to be able to live with any real measure of comfort and security.
All the way back in 2016, the Ontario NDP committed to instituting a $15 an hour minimum wage with increases tied directly to inflation. With that in place, we’d be well past $15 an hour now, and moving closer to a living wage for all Ontarians. I can’t wait until we are able to form government in 2022, when we’ll be able to ensure workers in Ontario make the living wages that they need.
Coming up tomorrow, our Community Food Tables will be returning to their four locations around the community – if you’re in need of some food – or you’d like to make a donation – please make sure to drop by!
Here are the locations:
Marian Engel Park - 285 Melita Ave. (Christie St. and Melita Ave)
St. Matthew’s United Church - 729 St. Clair Ave West. (St. Clair Ave W. and Rushton Ave.)
Cy Townsend Park - 455 Winona Dr. (Vaughan Rd. and Winona Dr.)
Oriole Park Community Garden - 201 Oriole Parkway (Located near Lascelles Blvd. At the south entrance to Oriole Park)
Finally, I’m excited to remind everyone about the Hillcrest Village Community Players Auditions that are getting started this Sunday!
For those who don’t know, the Hillcrest Village Community Players is a volunteer run theatre company getting up and running right here in the neighbourhood. They’re looking for volunteers from the community of all ages to fill out the cast.