Things are not normal in Ontario right now. Marit Stiles and I want to see the government chart a new, hopeful course – one where the needs of people come first.
Today’s budget is an opportunity for Ontario to:
- Get the lights back on in public operating rooms to fully use our existing infrastructure
- Retain and hire more nurses and other health care professionals to reduce wait times
- Make sure the 12,000 children who continue to wait for surgeries right now get the procedures they need and back on the road to recovery
- Invest in community, non-profit, and co-op housing
- Legislate 10 permanent, paid sick days so no one is forced to go to work sick just to put food on the table
- Double ODSP and OW rates as a first step in addressing deep poverty
Budgets are always about choices. At 4 PM today, we will find out who Ford will choose to help.
Last year Ford’s Conservatives deliberately underspent $6.4 billion – and diverted millions away from health and education.
They said this slush fund is for a rainy day, but it’s already pouring in Ontario right now.
Advocating for Shelter and Housing Funding
Last week, Toronto released the number of people who died on the streets of our city because of homelessness. Funding shelters is a matter of life and death as 187 people did not have to die last year. Every provincial budget is an opportunity to bring that number to zero by funding deeply affordable housing, mental health and safer supply.
I supported a day of advocacy led by shelter and housing organizations from across Ontario at Queen’s Park earlier this week. We held a press conference outlining what the budget must include to meet the challenges Ontarians are facing. I want to thank Siu Mee Cheng from Street Haven at the Crossroads and Sarah Crosby, a constituent who joined and shared her story of struggling to find shelter with her infant daughter as even family shelter spaces are operating at 99.5% capacity every single night in Toronto.
The holy month of Ramadan has begun. Ramadan is a special time to show gratitude and reflect on the values of peace, compassion, and generosity. I wish peace and joy to everyone in our communities observing.
I also want to let you know about an amazing food program that runs in Regent Park every Wednesday during Ramadan. Community members observing Ramadan are invited to break fast together and enjoy free meals made by the Regent Park Catering Collective from 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM at 585 Dundas St. E. (Daniel’s Spectrum).
Three Paid Sick Days Canceled by Ford
Ford’s ‘plan’ for three paid sick days (that an employer had to apply for) was never enough. But it was still better than nothing. COVID is still here and with the recent landing of the Avian flu, Ford is bailing on Ontarians by allowing the program to expire at the end of this month.
Ford is also reducing prevention measures in place for those visiting long-term care facilities, including testing requirements for those who do not show symptoms.
As a friendly reminder, you can access rapid tests for free at select locations that are being supplied by the Ontario government. You can find the nearest location here. Doug Ford has only committed to funding the free-to-access rapid test program until the end of June 2023.
Rapid tests should be freely available for at last as long as COVID-19 is circulating in our communities. I have submitted a written question on the order paper (#71) asking this government to confirm if the program will be extended beyond 2023, and will inform you when my question is answered.
Trans Care Fair at the 519 this Saturday
The 519 is recognizing the Trans Day of Visibility this Saturday with a free Trans Care Fair. Community members can check out Community booths with 2SLGBTQ+ organizations, Harm reduction resources, The 519 Legal Clinic, COVID-19 vaccines and general health referrals, as well as free delicious and healthy food. You can RSVP here.
See you this Sunday! Toronto Centre NDP AGM
Come out to meet ONDP leader, Marit Stiles, who has hit the ground running - bringing supercharged energy and new excitement into the party. Join us for a fine catered lunch at our Annual General Meeting this Sunday March 26. There will be special guests and fun door prizes. Marit and I look forward to seeing you there!
Toronto Centre NDP AGM
Sunday March 26, 2023
12:30 PM - 2:30 PM
519 Community Centre, Ballroom
519 Church Street
Looking forward to seeing you this Sunday,
MPP, Toronto Centre