The beginning of September signifies a return to school and the Labour Day long weekend. With the CNE in full swing, eager parents and students have a few days left to take it all in.
This week, Artscape announced it has been placed into receivership. They are a cultural institution that has operated successfully in Toronto for over 30 years by providing creative spaces and residences for artists. Like many in Toronto Centre, I’m concerned for the future of those who live in Artscape's live/work apartments or rely on their community hub and services such as those in Regent Park.
Over the years in conversations with Artscape staff, board members, and most recently with the CEO, I have expressed my support for dedicated and expanded arts funding.
The Ford Conservatives have failed to invest in the arts and non-profit housing models similar to what Artscape has offered creatives for years. To create a truly vibrant and successful arts and cultural sector in Ontario, we need a provincial arts funding strategy, including inflation-indexed and sustained investment in the Ontario Art Council to reverse years of Conservative cuts.
On a personal note, this summer has been incredibly challenging as my wife is still receiving cancer treatment. Farrah is the bravest person I know and I’m incredibly proud of her. Recently, my father has been diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer and as I support him and Farrah with their treatment plans, I’m in awe of the hardworking health care professionals who go above and beyond to take care of our loved ones. They deserve our deepest gratitude. As an MPP, watching firsthand the deficits in the health care system, I’m re-committed now more than ever to fight for real investments to ensure our healthcare system is strong, viable and stays public forever.
Many thanks to the residents of Toronto Centre who have stopped me on the street to offer kindness or sent along their good wishes. It means more to me than you can ever imagine. I am so proud to represent you.
Read ahead for select community events and festivals that are free and fun for everyone.
Stay safe and enjoy the long weekend ahead.
Yours in community service,
MPP, Toronto Centre
Integrity Commissioner Calls Out Steve Clark
This week, we learned of another damning piece of the puzzle in the Ford government’s disturbing pattern of corruption. We learned that Steve Clark has been found to have breached two sections of the Member’s Integrity Act – an important code of ethics that all government members agree to follow when Ontarians trust us with public office.
With each new piece of information, we’re seeing how far up this corruption goes. Ontarians deserve nothing less than full accountability from this Minister who used his public position to benefit a select few ultra-wealthy developers. Ford must demand his resignation instead of protecting his minister.
The size of this scandal is outrageous. This Minister clearly broke the law with his involvement in these dirty deals.
However, Doug Ford is doubling down on his defence of Steve Clark, and even getting aggressive towards journalists — which you can watch here.
Ontarians deserve so much better than fake apologies. His words are meaningless without any action to back them up. Ford must step up, show some leadership, and kick Clark out of cabinet. Then get us all back in the Legislature so we can restore all of these lands back to the Greenbelt.
Background and Quick Facts:
- The Integrity Commissioner has found Minister Clark in breach of sections 2 (conflict of interest) and 3.2 (insider information) of the Member’s Integrity Act.
- He has recommended to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario that Minister Clark be reprimanded for his failure to comply with the Act.
- A complaint was filed by the Official Opposition on December 8, 2022
- Additional information was presented in the Auditor General’s special report on the Greenbelt changes
- The Official Opposition ONDP added to the complaint following the release of the AG’s special report on August 19, 2023
Public Pressure is Working
While Ford refuses to listen to Ontarians, common sense, or even the Integrity Commissioner, his team is clearly worried and potentially beginning to buckle.This week the government began to return two parcels of land to the Greenbelt after its owners’ listed the land as being for sale. This is not nearly enough to fix the mess he made — but coming from a Premier who refuses to fire a blatantly corrupt cabinet Minister, it shows how deeply anxious Ford’s team is right now.
To help keep up public pressure, the Ontario NDP launched a new website that I invite you to share with your networks — HasSteveClarkResignedYet.ca.
Hey! Lecce! Leave Trans Kids Alone!
Earlier this week, Ford’s Education Minister Stephen Lecce refused to commit to keeping Trans students safe at school. He was asked if Ontario would bring forward legislation that could force education workers to out Trans and non-binary students without their permission that could put students at further risk — even when their parents are anti-Trans.
According to the Trans Pulse Health Survey, 35% of Trans Ontarians have seriously considered suicide in the last year, and 11.2% have attempted suicide. Social support — in places like schools — reduces that risk and keeps Trans students safe. We must recognize that in the schools and at homes, the safety of children and youth must come first - above all else. Minister Lecce is not better informed about the safety of home environments than the students navigating them in real-time.
This week, Leader Marit Stiles, Education Critic Chandra Pasma and I as your 2SLGBTQI+ Critic held a roundtable with education stakeholders to discuss how to ensure schools are safe and welcoming for all students and staff in the rise of anti-2SLGBTQI hate. Here is our statement.
Ontario’s NDP will do everything in our power to fight anti-Trans legislation if the Ford government chooses to bring harmful new bills forward. We have already tabled legislation to expand Gender Affirming Health Care and create 2SLGBTQI+ Safety Zones in the last year.
Labour Day Parade - March with the NDP
Join Marit Stiles, Jagmeet Singh and our Toronto caucus as we take the streets with over 20,000 labour members to honour the past, present and future victories of the Labour Movement at this year’s annual Labour Day Parade. The NDP is the party of working people and we will never waiver in our solidarity with the labour movement. We will be in the lead section of the parade.
This year, the Toronto York Region Labour Council highlights our collective strength and solidarity with the theme, "Year of the Union. Worker Power, Lifting Communities.”
As we march through the heart of Toronto, we'll be showcasing the vital role that unions play in improving our workplaces, our neighbourhoods, and our lives. From workplace challenges to the cost of living crisis, it’s through our collective power that we can inspire positive change and uplift not only ourselves but also the communities we're a part of. When we stand together, we can uplift entire communities.
WHEN: September 4, departure at 9:30 AM sharp
WHERE: NDP contingent will meet at Queen & Simcoe at 9:15 AM
Let's march in solidarity, showing the world the true impact of worker power. Let's continue to advocate for fair treatment, better conditions, and a brighter future for all!
Hot Labour Summer
2023 has been a ‘Hot Labour Summer’ (to use a term circulating on social media) with many strikes and wins by workers united for fairness.
This week, Unifor announced that Metro workers’ strike has ended with an agreement that secures historic wins for frontline workers. Toronto Centre New Democrats and I had the honour of joining Metro workers every week on the picket lines in Toronto Centre to show support for their demands. Congratulations!
In additional good news, USW announced today that a second Starbucks in Ontario has successfully voted to unionize!
While good news abounds when workers organize, TVO workers’ strike is continuing. To quote my colleague NDP MPP Jill Andrew, “TVO is, and has been, more than a channel to us. More than a broadcaster. It educates us. It entertains us. In many ways, it helped raise us. This doesn't happen without its workers, who for too long, have been kept down with wage freezes or increases well-below inflation (equalling a cut), moving from temporary contract to temporary contract, all without benefits of permanent placement.”
I look forward to greeting and encouraging TVO workers during the Labour Day Parade!
On a final note, the Toronto Centre NDP’s 2021 training on how to unionize your workplace remains relevant. You can share it with any family members, friends, or colleagues you know at this link.
Recognizing Overdose Awareness Day
Yesterday I stood with community organizations including parents who lost their children to commemorate International Overdose Awareness Day. Last year in Canada 7328 died from overdose. That’s 20 people a day. 34% of deaths are in Ontario.
We know solutions to preventing overdose deaths include moving away from criminalization to remove the stigma, making drug-quality testing freely available to guarantee a safe supply, and funding affordable, supportive housing, and crisis beds for those seeking treatment.
I want to specifically thank the Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention, Women's College Hospital, META-PHI, FAR Canada, Africans in Partnership Against AIDS, and African and Caribbean Council on HIV/AIDS in Ontario for your vital work every day of the year.
To frontline harm reduction workers: when things finally change — and they will — it will be because of the difficult and life-transforming work you are doing today.
Festival Weekend is Coming Up! Volunteer with Us!
The St James Town and Cabbagetown Festivals are coming up! Both are held on September 9 and the Cabbagetown Festival spans the whole weekend, including September 10. My team will be setting up a community table at the two events and we need your help to give away Back to School supplies and other cool swag.
Volunteering at these festivals is a great time to connect with the community, spread the word about important provincial issues, and enjoy a beautiful weekend with new friends.
Cabbagetown Festival — Volunteer with us!
We have shifts at 11 AM, 2 PM, and 3:30 PM on Saturday the 9 and Sunday September 10.
St James Town Festival — Volunteer with us!
We have shifts at 2 PM, and 4:30 PM on Saturday the 9. When can you join us?
Olivia Chow Wins TTC Service Increase
Mayor Olivia Chow announced on Monday that TTC Service will increase to 93% of pre-pandemic levels after Labour Day to accommodate an expected influx of riders. Service will be increased to 95% by November, with bus service at 99% of pre-pandemic levels
From Tues., Sept. 5, the TTC will be restoring 126 school trips for elementary and secondary schools, and will be increasing frequency on nine routes that serve post-secondary institutions.
“More TTC service means more room on board, shorter wait times, and better reliability for all transit users,” said Mayor Olivia Chow. “By reinvesting some of the $60 million originally budgeted to operate Line 5, there will be 280,000 weekly customer trips with scheduled service improvements by November, with service almost back to pre-pandemic levels. Most of this investment will be in the bus network, where we know demand is greatest.”
By November, more Scarborough transit users will have a direct bus route to the subway, without needing to transfer to other buses.
New Data Supports Shopping Local!
For every dollar spent at a small business, 66 cents on average stays in the local community, compared to just 11 cents of every dollar from large multinational companies, according to new data from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).
Shopping local is more fun, often more convenient, and keeps our local economies humming. Support a local business this weekend and post about it using #ShopLocal and #SmallBusinessEveryDay
Upcoming Community Events
Regent Park Harvest Festival
Join Fred Victor, Friends of Regent Park, and Muslim Welfare Canada on Saturday, September 16 for their annual Harvest Festival. Celebrate Regent Park gardeners, enjoy a community meal, kids’s activities, a raffle, and more! The event will be hosted in the Big Park Communal Garden at 620 Dundas Street East, from 11 AM-1:30 PM. If you have questions email Ashrafi Ahmedat [email protected]. See you there!
St. Lawrence ReMarket
Join the SLNA’s Waste Reduction Group for their 8th Annual ReMarket to recycle your unwanted items, repair broken items, get your bike repaired, or bring home some new (to you) items from the Free Market. This event runs Wednesday September 20 from 10 AM-7 PM and Thursday, September 21 from 11 AM to 3 PM. Different services are offered each day so be sure to visit the SLNA’s website for full details.
Participate in Toronto’s Noise Bylaw Review Process
The City of Toronto is hosting a series of public consultations as they carry out an Implementation Review of the City’s Noise Bylaw. Your voice deserves to be heard.
Consultations are taking place in-person and virtually between September 12 to 21 - sign up here.
Email SubmissionsYou can also submit your feedback by emailing [email protected]. Deadline to submit feedback is October 15, 2023.
Skills for Success for Women - Dixon Hall
Starting September 5, 2023, Dixon Hall Employment Services offers an eight-week FREE computer training followed by 3 months of assistance for employment or Literature and Basic Skills training.
This initiative is open exclusively to unemployed women.
Services will be delivered in hybrid mode (in person at the Regent Park Community Centre with one-on-one support, and via virtual platforms).
The first cohort of 10 women will start the program on September 5, and our instructors will deliver the following modules: Basic Computer Skills, How to use a Smart Phone at work, Creative Writing, etc. Wrap Around Coaching, Building Resilience and Career Development, Canadian Workplace Culture, Job search workshop, Professional Communication, In-Depth Resume Writing, and Cover Letter sessions are built in as well in this training.
Resiliency & Retention Training from the Hospitality Workers Training Centre
Learn how to deliver great customer service and boost your career in hospitality.
Working in hospitality and tourism requires great customer service skills. This free, in-person, two-day program was developed by OTEC and gives you a hands-on approach to learning how to deliver good customer service, including customer service essentials, stress management, and emotional intelligence.
The program is being held on two upcoming weekends, September 23 and 24, as well as October 21 and 22.