Yesterday I tabled a new private member’s bill, Keeping 2SLGBTQI+ Communities Safe Act” and presented it at Queen’s Park along with many friends including Scarlett BoBo (contestant on Season 1 of Canada’s Drag Race), Crystal Quartz, and many more fabulous drag artists and supporters including ONDP leader, Marit Stiles. Watch our colourful, heartfelt press conference below.
Protect Drag Artists and Prevent Hate Crimes
Drag artists, their audiences, and host venues deserve to live free from harassment and intimidation. They deserve to perform without being afraid. Individuals and families deserve to attend these events, if they chose to do so, without bullying. As Scarlett BoBo said:
“We will not let fear win. A world without Trans people has never existed. A world without drag has never existed. And it never will.”
Bill 94, the Keeping 2SLGBTQI+ Communities Safe Act, if passed, will do two things:
First, allow the Attorney General to designate addresses in Ontario as 2SLGBTQI+ Community Safety Zones for a specified period of time. During the time a safety zone is in effect, anti-2SLGBTQI+ harassment, intimidation, and hate speech within 100 metres of the designated address could receive a provincial fine of up to $25,000.
Second, the Bill would strike an advisory committee made up of MPPs and diverse queer and trans community members who will provide recommendations to prevent and combat anti-2SLGBTQI+ hate crimes in Ontario.
Join me in supporting the drag and 2SLGBTQI+ communities by signing this petition, which I will present to the Ontario Legislative Assembly soon.
This advocacy is inspiring our community members — but also generating a significant amount of targeted hate from anti-2SLGBTQI+ extremists. They are mounting a campaign against the bill and we need your support to counter the hate. Show you support safe spaces for 2SLGBTQI+ communities by signing the petition and donating to our riding association to help give the hard work we do a boost.
If possible, can you donate $94 to show support for Bill 94 (and get a tax rebate of $72 — i.e. a final cost of just $24!)
Or how about a $50 donation to show we won’t stand for hate in Ontario?
Supporting our Neighbours at 25 St Mary Street
Over the weekend, I joined tenants at 25 St. Mary Street who are rallying against a plan to demolish their apartment building. Ontario’s planning system is not working when developers are incentivized to demolish good rent-controlled highrises. This is why addressing the housing crisis as a human rights crisis is so vital. Ford is going about it all wrong when it comes to building affordable housing. A recent report shows that home starts are slowing in Ontario — and Ford is abdicating responsibility by saying that it is out of his control. Housing would be in his control if his government actually invested in building NEW deeply affordable and supportive housing, instead of demolishing the existing homes of 259 families as he is doing at 25 St Mary Street.
Tax Season: Local Income Tax Clinics
The St. James Town Community Corner is offering a free income tax clinic! Please note that this is done by appointment only, for those with the following postal codes (M4X, M4Y, M5A & M5B). For more details, or to book an appointment, please call (416) 964-6657 Or you can visit directly at 200 Wellesley Street, East, Toronto, ON M4X 1G3.
If you do not qualify for The Corner’s free tax clinic, no need to worry — Neighbourhood Information Post assists low-income households to file their income tax returns. Please contact Ron at 416-924-2543 to file!
You can also use the Government of Canada website to find a location to get your taxes done at a free tax clinic. There are options for virtual, in-person and drop-off tax filing, or even previous tax years can be filed in some clinics. Check out their directory here.
Be a Donor Month
April is #BeADonor Month in Ontario! One organ donor can save up to eight lives, and can enhance the lives of 75 others through tissue donation.
Right now, there are over 4 million Ontarians who have formally registered for organ and tissue donation. There are currently about 1,400 people waiting for a life-saving organ transplant, if you are interested in becoming a donor visit www.beadonor.ca to register or learn more.
Happy Passover! Chag Pesach Sameach!
May this first night bring you close to loved ones as you celebrate liberation, renewal, and hope. The messages of passover are increasingly relevant in our changing and challenging world. I am wishing all who celebrate a meaningful Seder dinner tonight.
To all those celebrating Easter this weekend, I wish you a happy, safe and joyous time with friends and family. Soon enough, life will begin to return to our city with trees and flowers blooming. I hope you can get outside this coming weekend and enjoy the fresh spring air, to reflect and renew after a long winter of being bundled up inside!
Equal Pay Day
This week, myself and the Ontario NDP Caucus highlighted Equal Pay Day in Ontario! Enough is enough, the last available data (from 2013) indicates that Ontario’s gender pay gap at roughly 30%.
Discrimination in pay is not limited to one career or demographic. And it affects women of all ages, races, and education levels – regardless of their family decisions. The intersectionality of a woman’s identity will also substantially impact their wage gap. And the wage gap increases for:
- racialized women
- Indigenous women
- immigrant and migrant women
- women with disabilities
- elderly women
- women who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (LGBTQ)
Back in 2019, one year into Doug Ford’s government, Ontario announced that they would consult about the Pay Transparency Act regulation. Unfortunately since then, the Act was stalled at committee and to this day the Ontario Equal Pay Coalition has been unable to make any headway with the Conservatives.
Pay Transparency should be a non-partisan issue. It is one easy way for the government to strengthen our equality and human rights in Ontario. Promoting gender equality through narrowing the wage gap means investing in our future as a province.
Dim Sum Social
Everyone in our community is invited to join MPPs Jessica Bell, Chris Glover and I for a free Dim Sum Social on Saturday April 22 at 11am. RSVP here!
Red Dress Ball
The Red Dress Ball is an annual volunteer-run event benefiting the Friends for Life Bike Rally and Toronto People With AIDS Foundation.
Get ready to dance the night away for a great cause!
The Red Dress Ball is back for its sixth edition, and it’ll be bigger, better, and REDDER than ever. Join us at Daniels Spectrum on Saturday, April 22nd, 2023 for a night of music, dancing, and drag performances, all in support of Toronto PWA Foundation and people living with HIV. It’ll be an unforgettable evening, filled with all the glitz, glamour, and love that The Red Dress Ball is known for.
Thank you for your continued commitment to our community. It is an honour to serve you.
MPP, Toronto Centre