Today is the National Day of Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, a day when we must confront the realities that have faced Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people for generations. On this day, we honour the lives which have been taken, we commit to creating spaces for healing, and we work together to deconstruct our colonial history which has led us to this point.
We need to be taking real action right now, and here in Ontario we have the “Pathways to Safety” plan that is just sitting on a shelf. We need the government of Ontario, and the federal government, to put the plans that have been created into action, and make sure that we are doing everything in our power as a society to end the perpetuation of gender-based violence, misogyny, and racism being experienced by Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people.
This morning, the Ontario Legislature returned for the first time since June, and to start this new legislative session the Ford government delivered their Throne Speech.
This Throne Speech follows a recent revelation that Ford withheld 5.6 billion dollars that was meant to be spent protecting Ontarians from COVID-19 in the last year. Sadly, but unsurprisingly, this Throne Speech did not address that particular failure, nor did it announce anything new to help workers, small businesses, patients, or students. Once again we have seen demonstrated that this government is continuing to pinch pennies, instead of taking the action that we need to help get us through this pandemic.
Perhaps what was most frustrating with this Throne Speech was the extent to which it looked back, in an effort to try and re-write the history of the Ford government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, instead of acknowledging their series of mistakes, and moving forward with those lessons learned and a real plan to get us through this thing.
But that’s what leadership would look like – something that we’ve learned not to expect from the Ford government.
What we need now is to be protecting workers, standing up for local businesses, and investing in health care and our kids. Instead, this government is protecting Ford’s buddies, standing up for big box retailers, and cutting deeper into already underfunded programs.
I’m committed – along with the entire Ontario NDP Caucus – for a real plan to hire thousands more nurses and PSWs, real investments in making our schools safer, grants and supports for local businesses in need, and proper enforcement of the new vaccine certificates.
The backdrop for this Throne Speech was our ongoing battle with COVID-19 in Ontario, where today we saw 511 new cases, and two more deaths – bringing our total provincial death toll to 9,754 people.
While vaccination rates are still slowly climbing, we need the real implementation of a last mile strategy to push our numbers up higher, and that includes mandating vaccines for all health care and education workers, something the Ford government still won’t do.
Next, in some very exciting local news, a few months back I nominated the Artscape Wychwood Barns for the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) World Architecture Day annual showcase. This morning we learned that they’ve been selected to be featured – and I couldn’t be prouder.
Artscape Wychwood Barns is not only sustainable, but it successfully preserves an important piece of Ontario's heritage and provides a vibrant community space for families and arts and culture makers to come together and do good. The space is home to many artists and musicians who are incredibly active and bring enriched arts and culture to our community here in Toronto-St. Paul’s.
A very special shoutout must go to former city councillor Joe Mihevc, who championed the vision of the barns and helped make its adaptation a reality.