Yesterday, the corrupt Ford government unexpectedly adjourned the legislature for an extended winter break, effectively shutting down further debate and accountability for their many offenses. The next sessional day at Queen’s Park will not be until February 20, after Family Day, and a whopping 76 days later.
This early break coincides with the release of yet another scathing annual report from the Auditor General, which raises more concerns over this government’s many, ever-deepening scandals.
Doug Ford knew that if he and his government had to attend even one more Question Period with our strong NDP Official Opposition, he would face heavy scrutiny and be forced to answer more scorching questions about Ontario Place, his government’s underfunding of healthcare, education and preferential treatment of connected PC insiders.
I am grateful for the Auditor General’s thorough work, which paints a rich picture of a corrupt Conservative government abusing their legislative privileges to justify their deal-making schemes to enrich select insiders. Ford’s PCs are lurching from one terrible decision to another with complete disregard for the consequences. They don’t have a plan to help people who are struggling right now amid an affordability crisis.
The big takeaway from this report is that the Conservatives, like the scandal-riddled Liberals before them, keep getting caught in lies and cover-ups, forcing them to reverse course. These cover-ups and reversals have wasted a year of time and money. This behaviour is unacceptable, especially when Ontarians need a stable and solution-focused government more than ever. As the Official Opposition, we have worked hard to expose the deep rot in the Ford government. With your ongoing support, we have forced them to reverse some of their deceitful policies in a matter of weeks, including their Greenbelt grab and controversial urban boundary expansions.
The AG’s report highlights many failings and gaps from the Ford government, but the largest and most concerning are:
ER closures: between July 2022 and June 2023, there were 203 unplanned ER closures. Patient wait times to see a doctor have increased to two hours over the past decade.
Ontario Science Centre: the government failed to consult key stakeholders on the Science Centre move and made the decision based on ‘incomplete’ and insufficient information, driven by the need to justify a publicly-funded parking garage for a private luxury spa company
Northern Healthcare: 10 Northern hospitals closed their obstetrics/maternal health services between July 2022 and September 2023. Four remain closed, and three were closed for more than a year.
This government shows every day that they think they don’t need to consult with anyone or provide proper care for Ontarians as long as it makes their own wealthy insiders even richer.
Despite Ford shutting down the Legislature to hide from his horrible record of corruption and incompetence, you have my word that the Ontario NDP will keep working hard every day on the issues that will make life better and more affordable for everyone.
I am wishing a very happy Hanukkah to our Jewish community members who began celebrating the Festival of Lights last night, a celebration that continues until next Friday. The story of an enduring light at the darkest time of the year at the heart of this festival is something that we can all learn from to honour the survival of the Jewish people and the resilience of humanity.
Over two thousand years ago, Jews lit the Temple menorah even though they knew it couldn't possibly burn long enough. Over the next eight nights, they witnessed a miracle. I think we could all use a reminder of that hope and light right now. Happy Chanukah and Chag Sameach!
Thank you for your resilience. It is an honour to serve you.
MPP, Toronto Centre
You’re Invited: TCNDP Holiday Party!
Join your neighbours and proud New Democrats at the 519 Community Centre on Thursday, December 14, for the TCNDP Holiday Party.
Get ready for a fabulous dinner, prize giveaways, entertainment, festive cheer, and, of course, surprise VIP guests!
Date: Thursday, December 14, 2023
Time: 6 PM - 8:30 PM
Location: The 519 Community Center, 519 Church Street, Ballroom
All are welcome, including Santa’s little helpers. Please register here to reserve your seats.
RAISE Grants Should Include Queer Businesses
On Tuesday, I sent a letter to Minister for Citizenship and Multiculturalism outlining the concerns of many Indigenous and racialized queer business owners, especially those in the Church-Wellesely Village. These business owners should be eligible for the Government of Ontario's RAISE Grant. Still, many are worried about their eligibility because their businesses, from pharmacies to clothing and specialty retailers, include references and products relating to sex, sexuality, and sexual orientation. The Ford Conservatives need to grow up and stop codifying sex-negative attitudes. You can read my letter here.
I also spoke to the CBC about the issue and how it is affecting Indigenous and Racialized queer business owners - you can read that interview here.
No Demovictions Press Conference
On Wednesday, MPP Jessica Bell and I joined No Demovictions Toronto members and tenants at 25 St Mary Street to introduce a new NDP motion calling for a moratorium on demolishing purpose-built rental buildings.
I have spoken to Ontario renters living in purpose-built rentals and worry that a developer will soon purchase their home to demolish it, given the speculative nature of the housing market. These rent-controlled buildings are some of the last affordable housing options in the province, but they are disappearing at alarming rates, with unaffordable investor-driven condos replacing them. In Toronto alone, there are currently more than 80 large buildings, accounting for 3,225 rental homes slated for demolition. In the middle of a housing crisis, this represents thousands of families who face an uncertain future with no place to go. Across Ontario, the picture becomes even more bleak, with even more families and their homes under threat and living in cities with local tenant protection laws that are weaker than Toronto's.
The Conservatives need to protect Ontario families and their homes - not bulldoze them over.
The proposed moratorium on demovictions would remain in effect until the provincial government guarantees fair compensation for tenants during construction so they can rent an apartment nearby during the entire construction period and permit the tenants to return to their rent-controlled home once construction is complete.
These strong renter protections exist in other fast-growing cities around Canada, like Burnaby, BC, and should be the policy here. Development should not be a zero-sum proposition. We can meet our housing supply needs and protect renters at the same time.
Remembering Ron Ellis
Frequent readers of this newsletter will know that I work closely with Tribunals Watch Ontario, a citizen watchdog group made up primarilty of retired tribunals workers and adjudicators who are dismayed and fired up about the erosion of tribunals infrastructure.
One of those incredible activists was Ron Ellis, described by his colleagues as "the heart and soul of our Tribunal Watch Ontario Steering Committee". Ron passed away last Sunday.
Alec Farquhar, another incredible member of Tribunals Watch, wrote a moving tribute to Ron. I would like to share part of it here:
Ron Ellis was a giant in the field of administrative justice, especially around adjudicative tribunals. He was the founding Chair of the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal, now WSIAT. But he was so much more to worker advocates, to the legal community, and to all those who support access to justice in our country. We offer our deepest condolences and support to Ruth Ellis and the rest of Ron’s family and to his many friends and colleagues who mourn his passing.
Always at the center of Ron’s work was a belief that everyone deserved an administrative justice system which would provide an expert, fair, transparent and independent process to all those with claims or appeals. This was of course a reasonable expectation for those who need to resort our adjudicative tribunals, but the reality has often fallen far short of this, as Ron documented in his important book called Unjust by Design.. And Ron spoke truth to power on these issues, sometimes at great personal cost. He took a stand in 1997 for the independence of WCAT and that ended his term as Chair.
Ron combined intellectual rigour and a mastery of public policy with the ability to structure and lead major institutions. His work ethic was extraordinary. And he was a marvelous human being, in his family life and relations with friends and colleagues, with a lively enquiring mind and a great sense of humour.
We strive to honour Ron with our own continuing advocacy for the integrity and independence of adjudicative tribunals in Ontario, and especially for the principle that those most vulnerable, such as injured workers, have a right to access to justice.
Community Events & Info
Toronto Queer Market - Holiday Edition
Toronto Queer Market is back indoors in The 519's ballroom for their two-day long Holiday Market on Dec 9th and 10th! We have an amazing roster of 40 vendors exhibiting their wares from 11 AM - 4:30 PM on Saturday and 11 AM - 3:30 PM on Sunday in the beautiful ballroom of The 519 Community Center.
There will be a drag show from 2-3 PM with Gay Jesus, Lucinda Miu, and Ryder Toole; drinks, food and so many goodies to come see! And best of all, admission is free!
Make a day of it! We’ll also be at STACKT market (28 Bathurst St) from 1-6 PM on Saturday and Sunday as well with 25 different vendors each day. So head on over after to continue your shopping spree!
RSVP and receive updates about the market here!
Regent Park CC Pancake Breakfast
Join the Regent Park community for the City's annual pancake breakfast at Regent Park Community Center!
Enjoy pancakes and beverages, a visit from Santa Claus, kids crafts, and family games.
When: Saturday, December 9th (tomorrow!) 10 AM - 2 PM
Where: Regent Park Community Center, 402 Shuter Street.
Yonge Street Mission Toy Drive
Join Yonge Street Mission in bringing the magic of Christmas to over 450 families & 950 children facing hardship through YSM’s Toy Market
Donate online, mail in your toys, or drop them off in person. The deadline for donations is Wednesday, December 20.
Donate new toys in person or lend a helping hand at YSM’s Toy Market from Dec 14, 15 & 18-20 at 306 Gerrard Street East. Let's make this holiday unforgettable for every child!
Learn more about the toy market, preferred donations, and how to get involved here.
Support Corktown Businesses and Win!
Be one of four people to Win 2 General Admission Tickets to Illuminarium Winter Wonderland at the Distillery. Compliments of the Distillery District Winter Village and the Corktown Residents and Business Association (CRBA).
From Berkeley to River, Front to Shuter Streets: Historic Corktown main street businesses look forward to your visit and are ready to greet you.
- Follow @CorktownTO Instagram page
- Snap a picture of your favourite decorated Corktown storefront (Berkeley to River Street) and tag @CorktownTO
- Be notified via DM if you are the winner! Winners will be notified by December 18th, and tickets are valid until January 7th.
Questions? Email [email protected] for more information.
51 Division Toy Drive
Get into the spirit of giving with the 51 Division toy drive! Please bring new, unwrapped toys to be given to children in need in our communities.
Donations can be dropped off to 51 Division Police Station at 51 Parliament Street any time during the holiday season.
Friends of Regent Park Community Skate
Join Friends of Regent Park for their Community Skate!
When: Saturday, December 30, 1 PM - 3 PM
Where: Regent Park Ice Rink, 480 Shuter Street
FORP have reserved the City's skate lending library. Skates and helmets will be available free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis.
Are you Ontario’s Next Poet Laureate?
The Legislative Assembly of Ontario is seeking nominees to fill the role of Poet Laureate of Ontario. Created in 2019 and named in memory of the late Gord Downie, this appointment is subject to the Poet Laureate of Ontario Act.
Ontario's Poet Laureate will be appointed for a two-year term as an Officer of the Legislative Assembly.
The spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses is increasing as the weather gets colder and people stay indoors. Learn more about testing options near you here