Just yesterday, the Ontario Government tabled their Fall Economic Statement. It was incredibly underwhelming and does nothing to meaningfully address the cost of living, housing, and healthcare crises that we find ourselves in. It maintains the status quo when what people in Ontario need are bold solutions to help us through these tough times.
Instead of making investments in our schools, hospitals, public housing, or social supports, Ford decided to add $2.5 billion to his contingency slush fund, bringing the fund up to $5.7 billion.
Ontarians expect and deserve more from their government, and this budget simply doesn’t meet the moment.
I, along with my colleagues in the Ontario NDP, will continue bringing positive solutions to the Legislature to show this government what is possible with political will and the wellbeing of Ontarians in mind.
MPP, Toronto Centre
Calling for a Ceasefire in Palestine
The horrors and violence persist in Palestine and Israel this week. I have spent this week watching the images pouring out of the region with grief, rage, and a heavy heart. This week, I spent many hours speaking with constituents who called my office to share their thoughts on the conflict and personal connections to the region. My thoughts are with everyone with family and friends in Israel and Palestine. I can only imagine what it is like to fear for the safety of your loved ones every day, let alone receive horrible news, and live with that pain from so far away.
I am very proud of my Federal NDP colleagues who have taken the boldest, most humanity-first stance on this conflict, calling for a ceasefire since October 11. The NDP remains the only major party in North America to do so. I continue to echo their calls, including their most recent ones, that the Federal government do the following:
- Call for an immediate ceasefire
- Demand unimpeded humanitarian access to Gaza
- Ensure all Canadians can safely leave the region
- Support ICC and ICJ investigation into the situation in Israel and Palestine
- Halt arms sales to Israel and work with partners to end illegal arms transfers to Hamas
- Advocate for an end to the occupation of the Palestinian territories and work toward a two-state solution
- Continue to work with partners to counter-terrorism in the region
- Invest in building a just and sustainable peace for Palestinians and Israelis
Email the Prime Minister and all Conservative and Liberal MPs to demand that your voice be heard. In Toronto Centre, our local MP is the Hon. Marci Ien.
My Ontario NDP colleague, Deputy Leader MPP Doly Begum called for a ceasefire – I encourage you to watch her heartfelt message here also released an excellent letter to Justin Trudeau today that I wholly echo. Here is just one part of the powerful letter:
“As a country, we have a responsibility to acknowledge the current and violent campaign of collective punishment against innocent men, women, and children in the Gaza Strip. Doing so would allow us to address the decades of suffering under an illegal occupation in Palestine. Israelis and Palestinians have a right to live in peace and mutual self-determination, and as peace-loving Canadians who enjoy democracy and freedom, we have an obligation to be a voice of reason and work towards lasting peace in the region and an end to the ongoing and decades-long siege of Gaza.”
By this time, many of you will have seen the resignation letter published by the Director of the New York office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. I am deeply concerned about what Mr. Mokhiber had to say and we should all strongly heed his words. I am encouraged to see so many of my constituents engaged on this issue and I hope that you continue to raise your voices for a ceasefire, unimpeded humanitarian aid, immediate release of hostages, safe passage home for all Canadians, and more.
We are also seeing the ripple effects of this violence right here in Ontario, where Jewish, Arab, and Muslim communities have seen a rise in hatred. There is no excuse for harassment and targeting of Jewish-owned businesses and community members. Muslim residents, especially women, should never have to worry about harassment while walking in their neighbourhoods. Mosques and synagogues must be defended equally against threats of violence. Reports of hate speech and hate crimes must be stopped and not allowed to spread. As Ontarians, we must stand together against antisemitism, anti-Palestinian racism, and anti-Muslim hate. Thank you to everyone who is doing their part during this horrific time.
Update on MPP Jama
I know many of you are feeling hurt and confused about the removal of MPP Sarah Jama from the Ontario NDP Caucus. She brought crucial perspectives to our caucus that deserve to be heard, and I would encourage a facilitated way forward that would be agreeable to all involved. A week is a long time in politics, and anything can change when good people sit down to work on solutions together. Teamwork is always based on the foundational principles of trust and mutual respect.
I want to clarify that MPP Jama was removed from caucus because she broke trust with the Leader, not because she called for a ceasefire, as the provincial caucus joined the Federal NDP in those calls. Despite repeated best efforts to work together, and with continued support from the Leader, her senior staff, and the house team, MPP Jama acted independently of them, which had a detrimental impact on our collective work as a caucus.
MPP Jama will continue to represent Hamilton Centre as an Independent MPP in the legislature, and she should be allowed to speak in the parliamentary chambers. It’s why our entire caucus voted against the Conservatives’ extreme motion of censure. We do not believe the government should use its majority to strip MPP Jama of her right to speak on behalf of her community. Not a single provincial Liberal voted to oppose MPP Jama’s censure. The Ontario NDP caucus is the only one who voted to protect MPP Jama’s right to speak. MPP Jama does not deserve what Doug Ford and his Conservative government did to her.
I will continue speaking honestly with constituents, party members, and friends about this issue to understand their concerns and share more about my understanding of the situation. That work is ongoing and I understand that the harm caused by this persists. Ford's Conservatives want to see our party divided and distracted from their corruption. They will be disappointed, as we will work hard daily and without rest to ensure New Democrats and our supporters know our caucus will strive to improve and build upon the strong foundation of our party's founders and contributing members.
7,000 Pages of FOI Documents - All Roads Lead back to Doug Ford
This week, 7,000 pages of internal documents were obtained by an FOI filed by Environmental Defence and Ecojustice. These documents show an alarming level of political involvement in land use planning policies in Ontario. They also question the Premier and former Minister Clark’s testimonies to the Integrity Commissioner and Auditor General. These documents prove that a culture of corruption and collusion prevailed in the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to appease developer requests.
From the beginning, I and your Official Opposition NDP, have said that the rot goes all the way to the top. Unfortunately, these documents bear that out.
These documents show stunning evidence of political staff – not bureaucrats – directing Greenbelt land removals and land-use planning policies against the advice of planning experts and the desire of municipalities. This is an incredibly inappropriate level of political involvement in land use planning decisions.
The Premier’s hand-picked Chief-of-Staff, Ryan Amato, instructed senior Housing Ministry staff to “keep their mouths shut” as media began reporting on Greenbelt land removals. It is absolutely clear that there is no way Mr. Amato did what he did without the Premier’s knowledge or authorization. This scandal lies at the feet of the Premier.
This massive trove of documents raises many questions. The most important one is: Did Doug Ford or his former Housing minister lie to the Integrity Commissioner and the Auditor General under oath?
Auditor General’s Probe into Ford’s $650M+ Luxury Spa
In more government scandal news, the Ontario Auditor General just announced that they are conducting a value-for-money audit on Ford’s $650M+ luxury spa plan for Ontario Place. The audit was requested by Ontario Place For All, Waterfront For All, and Architectural Conservancy Ontario. I am proud that the Ontario NDP wrote to the Auditor General in support of this request.
I agree with my colleague Chris Glover that the news of the audit means the site preparation underway should be paused. The Conservatives must immediately halt the destruction of more than 850 trees and critical habitats for species-at-risk. All bulldozing must be halted until the audit is complete.
Toronto Expanding Community Crisis Service Citywide
I am thrilled that after a year of successful pilots, Toronto Community Crisis Services is expanding to cover the whole city by the end of 2024, becoming the fourth municipal service, along with Fire, Paramedic, and Police services.
This innovative program launched in early 2022, the TCCS is a non-police-led alternative model of crisis response for Toronto residents. The 24/7 service provides a response that is community-based, client-centered, and trauma-informed, to support non-mental health crisis calls and wellness checks.
Key first-year TCCS program data includes:
- Successfully diverted 78% of calls received from 911, with no police involvement.
- Crisis teams completed 2,936 post-crisis follow-ups with clients and connected approximately 40% (1,160) of service users with ongoing case management supports.
- 95% of clients were satisfied or very satisfied with the service they received when the TCCS responded.
- 90% of clients indicated that the service positively impacted their perception of community safety and wellbeing.
Thank you to aloof the community members who lobbied and organized for this critical community service to be created!
No Demovictions Toronto Press Conference
Last week I joined No Demovictions Toronto to call on Doug Ford to stop the mass displacement of tens of thousands of working-class tenants across Toronto and Ontario.
The Conservatives, through Bill 23, have made it easy for speculators to demolish perfectly good apartments, evict thousands of people, and replace them with luxury condos. Demolitions are not solving the housing crisis; they’re making it worse.
Ford Must Fix Provincial Bail
Bail is broken in Ontario, and Ford won’t fix it. This week, I stood up in the Legislature to share how a more robust and well-funded provincial bail and justice system would improve community safety and access to justice in Ontario.
Ford loves to blame the Federal government for our poor bail system, instead of implementing provincial solutions that have been laid out for him
Stop billing ODSP and OW Recipients for Ambulances
People on ODSP, OW & GAINS receive an expensive bill in the mail every time they use an ambulance. It is unjust for some of the poorest people in our province to be paying for this service.
Thank you to fellow Toronto Centre resident, Katias Yee for organizing and collecting signatures for the petition. It was important to share your story and advocate for vulnerable people punished by an indiscriminate system.
Declare IPV an Epidemic in Ontario
Last week, 4 people including 3 children aged 6, 7, and 12, were fatally shot in an act of intimate partner and family violence.
I stood up in the Legislature twice this week to ask Doug Ford why he won’t listen to survivors & adopt the Renfrew Inquest recommendations by declaring intimate partner violence an epidemic TODAY. Already 63 municipalities have done so. Ford must follow their lead.
Permanent, Sustainable Funding for Pride
Last week I asked the Ford government to increase permanent, sustainable funding for Pride festivals across Ontario. Prides bring joy, community, and significant economic gains to their host regions, and yet are forced to deal with unpredictable and inadequate funding year to year.
Permanent and sustainable funding is needed now more than ever as we see the rise of 2SLGBTQI+ hate across the province.
Upcoming Community Events
Bloor East Neighbourhood Association AGM
Calling all Bloor East residents. The Bloor East Neighbourhood Association is hosting it’s annual AGM virtually on November 8 at 7 PM. All are welcome and I look forward to speaking with you then.
Join BENA and hear from Toronto Center and University-Rosedale politicians, as well as updates from Post Media Place, Rogers. St. Andrews United Church, and the BENA President (e.g. neighbourhood projects, including redevelopment)
AGM details and documents are posted on the BENA website
Want to submit questions or comments? Please email them to [email protected].
Cabbagetown BIA’s Remembrance Day Ceremony
The Annual Cabbagetown Remembrance Day Ceremony will be held by the Cabbagetown BIA next Saturday.
Date: November 11, 2023
Time: 10:15 AM (ceremony to begin promptly at 10:30 AM)
Location: East corner of Carlton St. and Parliament St. in Cabbagetown, Toronto
Program: Readings, Trumpet performances, and moment of silence, followed by light refreshments.
Following the ceremony, Gilles Huot of the Cabbagetown Preservation Association will invite those interested on a tour of military graves at the Toronto Necropolis, where people can respectfully dispose of their poppies on the graves of fallen soldiers.
I will be participating in another Remembrance Day event at old City Hall at the same time, where I will be laying the Ontario wreath at the cenotaph. However, you choose to honour the fallen soldiers and those in service please do take a moment on November 11 to give gratitude and reflections to their sacrifice. Lest we forget.
Legislative Assembly Youth Arts Program
The Ontario Legislature’s Youth Arts Program celebrates the incredible artistic talents of young Ontarians aged 12-18.
Each year, youth from across the province are invited to display their works of art throughout the Legislative Building, showcasing their creativity and diverse artistic abilities. Artwork submitted consists of various media, including photography; sculptures; ceramics, and pottery; drawings in ink, pencil and charcoal; acrylic, oil and watercolour paintings.
Applications will be accepted from October 10 to November 8, 2023.
Met Radio Fund Drive
From November 6 to 12th, Met Radio is holding their annual Fund Drive to raise funds to support new and creative live programming at the station. With your help, they will be able to provide workshops, training, and additional support to volunteers who create this programming as well as honorariums to artists who perform at the station. You can learn more and donate at funddrive.ca, and tune in to 1280 AM or at metradio.ca all week long to hear lots of special live radio programming!
Canadian Association for Girls in Science Volunteer Opportunity
Do you enjoy working with and inspiring youth? Are you passionate about building equitable STEM futures? The Canadian Association for Girls in Science is recruiting volunteers to support its STEM programs.
CAGIS is an award-winning not-for-profit organization that supports interest in Science, Technology, Trades, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) among girls and gender-diverse youth, ages 7-17. CAGIS Volunteers are parents, teachers, post-secondary students, STEM professionals, and other interested members of the community. They support our work by helping to plan, organize, and run our programs.
Find out more and sign up HERE