Letter to Minister Mulroney ⁠— Partisan Directives to Metrolinx

You can read a pdf copy of the signed letter that was sent to Ministry Mulroney here.

 

February 9, 2023

 

Hon. Caroline Mulroney, MPP

Minister of Transportation 

777 Bay Street, 5th Floor 

Toronto, ON

M7A 1Z8

 

Re: Ministry of Transportation directive to Metrolinx

 

Dear Hon. Minister Caroline Mulroney,

 

On February 9, 2023, a Toronto Star investigation revealed that Metrolinx was asked by your Ministry to deliberately exclude us - two local MPPs of the Official Opposition - from receiving notice about the controversial removal of local trees for the Ontario Line.

 

Today, we are asking for an explanation for these actions.

 

Metrolinx is a Crown agency that exists to serve the public interest and facilitate the operation and expansion of public transit across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. 

 

There is no doubt that we need to expand and invest in our public transit. But Ontarians need Metrolinx to focus on building new transit, and not be forced to play partisan politics. Your government has proposed to invest $61.6 billion of the public’s money in transit over the next 10 years. The public deserves transparency and accountability from its government and Metrolinx about the issues that impact our communities, and how money is being spent. 

 

By politicizing the construction of new transit, your government risks delaying urgently needed new transit construction. These kinds of directives undermine public faith and trust in Metrolinx and new transit projects. Metrolinx does not exist to serve the partisan interests of a Premier and his party. 

 

It is our job to help bring local voices into the planning process, and help the public understand why and when disruptions relating to transit construction are occurring. We cannot help build public confidence in new transit construction when the process is openly hostile to our local communities and our very job as Members of Provincial Parliament. 

 

We trust that an explanation will be provided in due course, and that appropriate steps will be taken to ensure that this never happens again. 

 

 

Sincerely, 

 

Peter Tabuns, MPP                           

Toronto ⁠– Danforth                                  

 

 

Kristyn Wong-Tam, MPP 

Toronto Centre               

 

Thank you for reading my letter, you can join me at my expert panel on Ontario Tribunals here next Wednesday February 15, 2023!

Latest posts

Racialized, Queer Business Owners Deserve Grants

Indigenous and Racialized businesses in the Church-Wellesley Village should be eligible for the Government of Ontario's RAISE Grant, but many are worried that because their businesses acknowledge sexuality and carry products "of a sexual nature," they may be ineligible for the grant. On December 4th, I wrote to Minister Michael Ford to tell him that his Ministry needed to grow up, stop codifying sex-negative attitudes, and open the RAISE grant to all deserving Indigenous and Racialized applicants. I will be keeping you updated with the Minister's response when I receive it. 

 

 

December 4, 2023          

Re: Supporting Indigenous and Racialized Entrepreneurs Equitably

To the Honourable MPP Michael Ford

Minister for Citizenship and Multiculturalism

Sent By Email

Dear Hon. Minister MPP Michael Ford,

I am reaching out because of serious equity-related concerns that local business owners in Toronto’s Church-Wellesley Village brought to my attention. 

As you know, your Ministry funds an initiative called the Racialized and Indigenous Supports for Entrepreneurs (RAISE) grant. The RAISE grant provides up to $10,000 to facilitate innovation, growth, training, and coaching for sustainable economic development to small business entrepreneurs from racialized or Indigenous backgrounds. This grant represents a potentially life-changing amount of money to entrepreneurs who are racialized or Indigenous in addition to being 2-Spirit, Queer, or Trans in the Church Wellesley Village area. 

Unfortunately, and to the dismay of local small entrepreneurs, the government has added new exclusion criteria to this grant that disproportionately prevents 2SLGBTQI+ entrepreneurs from applying. The website lists that businesses with “displays of a sexual nature” cannot receive this grant. This ambiguous wording created confusion for local entrepreneurs leading them to follow up and learn that:

 “A business with a primary activity related to products, services or displays of a sexual nature would be ineligible for the program. We consider a primary activity as a distinctive and indispensable component of how the business achieves its mandate. If the business has elements which contain products, services or displays of a sexual nature, a main factor for eligibility is whether those elements are a primary activity of the business or not.” 

This definition appears to exclude many 2SLGBTQI+ businesses unduly. 2SLGBTQI+ businesses are going to talk about queer sex ⁠— and this government must grow up and live with this reality. Queer businesses offer many 2LSGBTQI+ Ontarians some of their first experiences seeing who they are and what they desire represented and validated⁠— experiences that heterosexual Ontarians take for granted. I know that this government has not always embraced the importance of inclusive sexual education ⁠— but are adult Ministers afraid of discussing human sexuality? Without understanding why this criterion has been added, I wonder if businesses are being excluded because Ministers are embarrassed to declare that government grants to stimulate our economy sometimes stimulate more than just our economy. 

Codifying sex-negative and shame-based attitudes in Ontario’s economic recovery benefits no one. Pandemic lockdowns uniquely harmed queer businesses in the Church Wellesley Village and across Ontario, because the Pride season festivals that anchor their annual budgets did not happen. These businesses are already struggling to navigate incompetent federal decision-making regarding the Canadian Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loan forgiveness deadlines failing to be adequately extended. It is demoralizing and distracting for these businesses to have to learn that programs they once could apply to have newly closed their doors for no clearly stated reasons. 

I am further worried that anti-queer signals in this program are already hurting queer businesses. This grant is awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis. 2SLGTBQI+ businesses are being told that they need not apply, and even if this government changes its position, they will be competing for a reduced pool of funds. Deeper accountability is needed from this government as to how anyone thought these criteria were acceptable in 2023. 

2SLGBTQI+ Ontario business owners deserve answers. I wish to know:

  1. When will you amend the criteria so that all Ontario businesses can apply?
  2. How will you ensure that 2SLGBTQI+ businesses are not unduly compromised because they must apply later?
  3. What steps will your Ministry take to explain how this criteria was added and avoid repeating this exclusionary decision?

If you have additional questions, I would be more than happy to help your Ministers or staff better understand diversity, equity, and inclusion. I can even suggest many 2SLGBTQI+ entrepreneurs who your Ministry might benefit from hiring. You can reach my office at [email protected].

 

Kristyn Wong-Tam

Member of Provincial Parliament 

Toronto Centre




Letter for Grey Bruce Pride

 

October 10, 2023

 

Sent by Email 

 

The Hon. MPP Michael S. Kerzner

Solicitor General 

 

Re:  Preventing Rising Hate in Ontario

 

Dear Hon. MPP Michael Kerzner, 

 

I am writing to you to share the needs of a local Pride organization that needs clarity and support from your Ministry about the limits of laws to protect Ontario’s 2SLGBTQI+ communities. 

This year, Grey Bruce Pride participated in an incredible local initiative to visibly spread support for 2SLGBTQI+ communities to parts of Ontario where 2SLGBTQI+ youth and individuals can often feel isolated and looked over. They distributed coroplast lawn signs that said “Grey Bruce Pride lives here” to community members and allies. 

Unfortunately, those who placed Pride lawn signs received intimidating letters. They know of almost 100 individuals who had a lawn sign and received a letter. The letters directly quoted the Bible passage Leviticus 20:13 — which calls for the death penalty for people understood to have participated in non-heteronormative intercourse.

When Grey Bruce Pride approached their local police service, they were informed that the letter did not constitute hate speech. As I am sure you know, Canadian law defines hate speech as “Every one who, by communicating statements, other than in private conversation, wilfully promotes hatred against any identifiable group”. I do want to recognize that since I met with Grey Bruce Pride, they attempted to determine who was sending these letters.

Prides across Ontario are under attack by far-right extremists sharing who are actively misinformation. I would like to seek clarity from your Ministry about what guidelines exist and are shared with police forces across Ontario to define and regulate hate speech and distribution of hate propaganda. 

As you know, 2SLGBTQI+ Ontarians feel more targeted now than ever before by organized hate promotion campaigns from the United States of America. Ontarians deserve a government that does not stand idly by while some of our most vulnerable community members are targeted. I believe that our laws need to be strengthened to better protect 2SLGBTQI+ Ontarians — that is why I have tabled the Keeping 2SLGBTQI+ Communities Safe Act, 2023, but this is an event where we do not even need new legislation to keep our communities safe — we need to enforce existing legislation. 

I welcome the opportunity to discuss what Ontario’s government can do to keep our communities safe. As I have highlighted many times in Question Period, the government lacks a plan to combat anti-2SLGBTQI+ hate crimes as well as an Ontario Provincial Police Unit to help coordinate and standardize anti-2SLGBTQI+ hate crime enforcement. I am struggling to see why this is the case — Ontarians need a government that is tough on hate crimes now. 

Respectfully submitted, 

 

Kristyn Wong-Tam

Member of Provincial Parliament 

Toronto Centre





CEBA loan repayment forgiveness letter

You can read MPP Wong-Tam’s letter here.

 


The Right Honourable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Prime Minister of Canada

House of Commons

Ottawa, Ontario 

 

Sent By Email

 

October 6, 2023

 

Re: Resolving challenges with CEBA that threaten small businesses

 

Dear Right Honourable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, 

 

As the Official Opposition Critic for Small Business Issues, I am writing to share concerns that small local businesses have brought to my attention.

 

Small businesses across Ontario need a full extension of their Canada Emergency Benefit Assistance loan deadline by at least a year ⁠— in addition to seeing the promised $20,000 loan forgiveness deadline extended. The recently announced 18-day extension of the loan forgiveness deadline does not provide the support that small businesses across Ontario urgently need.  

 

Small business owners have spent the last few years playing Red-Light Green-Light with government regulations that regularly forced them to close. Supply chain issues and a cost-of-living and inflation crisis immediately followed the global pandemic. CEBA worked, and all Canadians should be proud that our communities rallied to keep our main streets alive so that workers could remain on the payroll. However, small businesses kept Canadians employed because they counted on the promised loan forgiveness. Small shops cannot be expected to pay everything back when they never experienced a full economic recovery ⁠— and many economists now believe that our economy has entered into a recession. 

 

New data from the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) shows that September business confidence in Ontario is the lowest of all Canadian provinces and is declining. I believe that fears related to CEBA loan forgiveness contribute to this statistic — in addition to increased interest rates and fears of a recession. Statistics Canada shows that 360,339 Ontario businesses participated in the CEBA program, taking out $19.7 billion in loans. Working with the CFIB to ensure that CEBA is adapted to support their needs will help restore business confidence and mitigate a looming recession. 

 

I want to draw additional statistics from the CFIB to your attention. As you know, the CFIB is a data-driven organization that is constantly surveying their members to understand the real-time pulse of businesses in Canada. Only one-third of the members surveyed about CEBA can repay their loans before the new loan forgiveness deadline. One-third of those surveyed said they must take out a new loan to repay their loan through CEBA. A final third have no means to secure a loan for repayment. These metrics paint a dire picture. They indicate that there are over 100,000 businesses in Ontario that cannot repay their loan at all, and over 100,000 additional businesses will have to take on debt at modern interest rates to stay solvent. 

 

Maintaining a deadline that two-thirds of small businesses cannot meet is not an acceptable government policy when our country is on the cusp of recession. 

 

I want to share what a local business owner in Toronto Centre’s historic St. Lawrence Market district shared with me: “I want to pay back my loan, but I also have to keep the lights on. We just never had a real economic recovery after the pandemic. And that uncertainty has kept on going. But my business was a source of continuity and community for people with no one nearby. By keeping my business afloat, I ensured that many of my vulnerable neighbours felt cared for and connected. I employ many people who might not otherwise be able to find a place to work. I took out a loan that I will repay, but I have already repaid the goodwill throughout my local community. We need the government to understand this and support everyone in my shoes. And so many small local businesses are in my shoes right now.” 

 

I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to discuss how to fix CEBA so that it remains the life raft that small businesses deserve. As a provincial representative, I cannot stand by and watch it become a deadweight that drags our main streets underwater in debt. I would like to discuss this with your government. I can be reached at 416-972-7683 or [email protected]

 

Yours sincerely,  



Kristyn Wong-Tam

Member of Provincial Parliament 

Toronto Centre












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