The last day of the legislative session will be remembered as a dark day in Ontario’s history. Conservatives anointed mayors of their choosing with the power of undemocratic minority rule on December 8 and this is just the beginning.
Housing Minister Steve Clark has indicated he plans to expand these ‘strong mayor’ powers to other regions, including Waterloo, Peel and York.
Mayor Tory who originally asked Ford for minority rule powers is now asking Torontonians to trust him. He only needs one-third of city council support in creating any new bylaws or passing the budget - this is a historic low for our local democracy and an unprecedented attack on local government.
No one should trust an elected official who not only votes to weaken democracy but celebrates while doing it.
More and more Ontarians understand what kind of Premier we are dealing with as recent polling shows Ford is deeply unpopular, especially with Bill 23 and his intention to pave over the Greenbelt to enrich his wealthy PC donors and developers.
Despite challenges, I know we will overcome any hardship by working together to uplift one another.
I never give up hope and will always stand ready to support you and your family by doing what’s right. This is just who we are in Toronto and I am so proud to represent you at Queen’s Park.
Please read on to learn more about the events and work in our communities. Reach out if you need help, have advice, or have any questions.
Kristyn Wong-Tam, MPP
Fire at All Saints’ Church — Helping Our Neighbours
This morning we woke up to a tragedy in Toronto Centre. A three-alarm fire ripped through All Saints’ supportive housing at the corner of Sherbourne and Dundas. One of our neighbours perished in the fire and others were injured. I have been in touch with All Saints staff and the City of Toronto’s Office of Emergency Management to offer my support. Everyone is working hard to make sure the most vulnerable among us are rapidly rehoused and kept safe for the winter days ahead.
The hardworking staff and volunteers at All Saints’ Church already had too few resources for the incredible demands they work to meet. They have now launched a Go Fund Me here to help cover unexpected emergency costs. Please help if you can and share the link broadly to make sure our neighbours are cared for leading up to the Christmas holidays.
All Saints’ Church and Supportive Housing
P3s and Privatization Always Cost More
While the Ontario Legislative Assembly may not be meeting for the winter break, I am staying busy. Yesterday my good friend MPP Jill Andrew and I coordinated an open letter from Toronto MPPs to Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney in response to the leaked report from Metrolinx that there is no credible plan to finish the Eglinton LRT. The Ontario NDP are calling on the Ford government to immediately launch a public inquiry into the P3 mismanagement of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.
Let me get to the bottom of this for you: the reason that the Eglinton Crosstown LRT is over two years late in opening and billions over budget is because of privatization. Ontario Liberals, and now the Ford PC government, relied on what are called P3s (which stands for Public-Private Partnerships) to build new transit and other infrastructure projects. We can not allow decade-long construction delays to plague downtown Toronto when the Ontario Line construction gets fully underway. In Toronto Centre alone, we have three massive stations that will leave local residents and small businesses grappling for relief if the P3 construction delays and budget overruns repeat itself in our neighbourhoods.
It would have been cheaper and faster to have these lines publicly built. P3 construction has a pattern that we are seeing with the Ottawa LRT, the Eglinton Crosstown, and now the Ontario Line — billion-dollar budget overruns, deadlines that are constantly pushed back, and little (if any) accountability because the opaque P3 model makes it difficult to get answers. We need a public inquiry into the Eglinton LRT delays and P3s in general. If Ford refuses, it’s because he is afraid of the likely conclusion: the public sector would do it better.
Teaching Love — Not Hate
What’s more, MPP Marit Stiles (Davenport) and incoming Ontario NDP leader joined me in Hamilton this weekend to show support for a talented drag queen, Crystal Quartz, who has been receiving threats from far-right organizers.
The phrase, “when America sneezes, the world catches a cold” holds as much truth today as it did when first said by 19th-century Prussian diplomat Klemens Wenzel Furst von Metternich. This is, unfortunately, the case here in Ontario. We are seeing dangerous and hateful rhetoric spillover into Canada as the domestic far-right is copying what the American far-right is saying with a renewed focus on attacking Trans rights and performers who celebrate gender diversity, including drag queens.
I had asked the government about their plans to protect drag performers and their audiences last week in the House, only to receive an inadequate response from the Attorney General. Ontario has no plans to address the alarming rise in hate crimes against vulnerable communities — this is putting drag queens who perform across our province in a difficult position as they are now being forced to hire expensive security protection for their events and communicate with multiple police departments.
Hate crimes affect more than the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, as illustrated yesterday in Scarborough with the assault at the Islamic Foundation of Toronto yesterday. Ontario’s NDP will continue pushing for action against hate crimes and for legislation such as the Our London Family Act.
Threats aside, there are more of us than there are of them. Crystal performed to a sold-out house, and many Hamilton residents went up to personally thank Marit and I for showing up to counter those with hateful messages threatening 2SLGBTQIA+ communities.
Holiday Party Success!
The Toronto Centre NDP holiday party was a tremendous success, with the room at full capacity to meet the MPP Marit Stiles. It was Marit’s first NDP riding association event since being recognized as the soon to be acclaimed leader of our party.
MPP Marit Stiles at Toronto Centre NDP riding Holiday Party 2022
Marit has been a friend and mentor to me. I am confident that she will listen to New Democrats and people across Ontario and set the stage for us to form government in 2026. You can help Marit by contributing to our local riding association here in Toronto Centre so that we can keep organizing and stay election-ready.
Donate to our riding association here!
Holiday Season in Toronto Centre
On the weekend, I joined the Cabbagetown BIA for Holiday in the Patch, a festive celebration of our local small businesses in Toronto Centre. Where possible, shopping locally will help our small businesses to recover from the ongoing financial hardships caused by the pandemic.
In Cabbagetown with Councillor Chris Moise and friends to support local businesses
Public Health Updates
The triple-whammy of a virulent flu strain, RSV, and COVID-19 is straining pediatric health care capacity across Ontario. The government has made some positive announcements such as extending the availability of free rapid-antigen tests to June 2023 — you can find locations here.
The surge in pediatric hospitalizations is truly unprecedented in recent memory.
Source: Bill Comeau, statistician, Mastodon
Pharmacists can now prescribe Paxlovid over the counter or by phone to people at risk of severe illness who contract COVID-19. You can see details about that announcement here. Paxlovid is a new anti-viral medication that can help prevent severe COVID infection if administered as soon as possible after the onset of infection. You are eligible for Paxlovid if you are:
- 60 years of age or older
- 18 years of age or older and immunocompromised
- 18 to 59 years old and at a higher risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes including having chronic medical conditions (such as diabetes, heart or lung disease) or inadequate immunity against COVID-19 (i.e., not up-to-date on vaccines).
One of the best ways to help preserve hospital capacity — and give back to our burnt-out health care workers — is to wear masks in indoor public settings and ensure that you and everyone you know are up to date on your vaccinations. If you have not received a COVID booster vaccination in the last 84 days (and have not been infected during that time) you are eligible and can find your nearest booster appointment here. You can get it at the same time as your flu shot — and you can find a flu shot appointment here. I got my flu shot last week at the Central YWCA to help keep my family and community safe.
Kristyn getting the flu shot