Happy St. Patrick’s Day! The parade will take place on Sunday, March 19 at noon starting at the corner of St. George and Bloor Street West. Check out more Fun Things to Do.
Congratulations to Sarah Jama who has been elected as the new Member of Provincial Parliament in Hamilton Centre. My colleagues and I are excited to welcome Sarah to Queen’s Park. She will be a strong voice for women, people of colour, for the Muslim community, and for people with disabilities.
The Ontario Budget will be tabled on March 23. We need the government to spend the allocated funding for education and health care. I’m also concerned about an anticipated 15% cut coming to the Ontario Arts Council budget. The public galleries, museums and other arts organizations are a vital part, not only of our community, but of the tourism industry which is one of the three biggest industries in our riding.
Marching on International Women’s Day and attending the annual Mary Spratt Breakfast with my MPP colleagues, Jill Andrew (Toronto–St.Paul’s), Kristyn Wong-Tam (Toronto Centre) and Bhutila Karpoche (Parkdale–High Park).
I come from a family of trades people. My father is a tool and die maker, and other family members are electricians, carpenters, masons and welders. I paid my way through university, in part, building log houses with my uncle and I used to teach woodworking at night school at Central Tech.
The trades offer rewarding and lucrative careers. Over the past 25 years, our high school shops have been closed. The government is taking some steps to reintroduce trades to high school students, but I will continue to push to reopen the high school shops so that students have the opportunity to explore trades at an early age.
Have a burning issue or question? Join me for Coffee with Chris (and special guest, MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam) at Arvo Coffee in the Distillery on April 14. Sign up to meet with us here.
Je souhaite à tous une bonne journée internationale de la francophonie le lundi 20 mars! (I wish everyone a Happy International Francophonie Day on Monday, March 20!)
Ramadan begins on March 22 and I wish everyone celebrating peace and happiness!
Coffee with Chris April 14
Join me and my special guest, Toronto Centre MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam, on Friday, April 14, 8:00-10:00 am at Arvo Coffee to share your concerns, or just drop by to say hello! Sign up here.
Ontario Making Changes to High School Trades/Technology Programs
The Ontario government made two announcements last week with plans to make some significant changes to address the growing labour shortages in the province. About one in five job openings in the province are expected to be in the skilled trades by 2026.
Labour Minister Monte McNaughton announced that Grade 11 students will be allowed to enter full-time apprenticeship programs, in lieu of the regular grade 11 and 12 courses, and still earn a high school diploma. After completing their apprenticeship and receiving a Certificate of Apprenticeship, these students can apply for their Ontario Secondary School Diploma as mature students.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce also announced that students entering Grade 9 in September 2024 will be required to take at least one Technological Education credit in high school. The province says this new requirement will expose students to at least one course that could guide them to a career in the skilled trades. The hope is that his step may also entice more girls to pursue skilled trades careers.
The Ontario government says that this change will help more students enter the trades faster and support the province’s plan to build 1.5 million homes by 2031. Another reason for this decision is the difficulty finding teachers with skilled trade experience. Ironically, it is decades of education cuts that has contributed to the lack of shop programs in our schools.
School Boards Facing Staff and Funding Cuts
The TDSB is projecting a $61 million shortfall and a loss of 522 staff positions in the coming school year. School boards across Ontario are expected to have to grapple with similar staffing shortages and funding deficits.
The Financial Accountability Office (FAO) recently revealed that the Ford government withheld $844 million earmarked for education at a time when school boards are facing significant funding deficits.
This government has put the TDSB in a very tough financial predicament, and it’s our kids who will pay the price. We should be investing in schools, not forcing school boards to cut the teachers, educational assistants, child and youth workers, and safety monitors our kids depend on.
Cryptocurrency Scam Alert
My colleagues and I have been hearing about residents who have been scammed with crypto fraud. In Ontario, cryptocurrency investment fraud accounted for the highest losses from victims last year, with $136.5 million reported.
This CTV article is not about residents in our riding, but these types of scams are becoming all too prevalent. Scammers set up fake websites that appear very legitimate and then entice people to invest on social media. Please be cautious.
Financial trading companies in Ontario are regulated by the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC). They are trying to rein in crypto trading companies that are operating outside the law, but it is a relatively new area of regulation. Here is some information from the OSC:
- 68 crypto-related companies on the OSC investor warning and alert list that is updated every 2-3 weeks
- List of registered crypto asset trading platforms which have been permitted by the OSC to offer crypto products to investors in Ontario
Here are a few pointers to avoid getting scammed:
- Take five minutes to think about it, tell two people to bounce the pitch off of them
- Be suspicious of unsolicited text messages, calls and emails
- If there’s a time crunch/sense of urgency to pay the money, be wary
- Read the fine print
- Don’t share information over the phone, text or email with people you don’t know
- Don’t send money to someone you don’t know (especially cryptocurrency)
Metrolinx Abandons Plan for Don Railyard
Just weeks after removing dozens of trees on the Osgoode Hall and Moss Park properties, Metrolinx announced it has abandoned its plan for a GO Transit train railyard in the Don Valley. Years of local advocacy and public pressure, along with clear evidence that this location just didn’t make good business sense, led Metrolinx to make a rare reversal in decision. The railyard will now be built in a much more suitable light industrial area near Leslie and York Mills.
In spite of this win, Metrolinx also confirmed that it will begin to cut down more than 2,800 trees in the Don Valley this month for the Ontario Line project. While it is important that the government invests in transit, this should not be done at the expense of the wellbeing of people, wildlife and the environment.
Ontario Line Sub-Committee Meeting Mar 22
The Toronto and East York Community Council established this subcommittee in order to hear from the public regarding Metrolinx’s development, construction and implementation of the Ontario Line. The sub-committee will develop recommendations which can be forwarded to Metrolinx and the Ontario Government by City Council.
The sub-committee was formed in response to concerns from the community regarding the lack of public engagement and communication from Metrolinx and the provincial government on the impact of the Ontario Line construction project.
The first meeting will take place on Wednesday, March 22 at 9:30 am. Details here. If you would like to speak at the meeting, register by email at [email protected] or call 416-392-7033.
Ontario Place Public Engagement
Here are three ways you can have your say on Ontario Place:
- Therme Ontario Place Public Consultation
Therme Canada is holding an online public consultation regarding the Ontario Place redevelopment on March 22 at 6:00 pm. Representatives from Diamond Schmitt Architects and STUDIO tla Landscape Architecture, the organizations involved in developing the West Island, will be available to take questions. This is a great opportunity to share your views on the redevelopment plan. Register here.
- Waterfront Design Review Panel Meeting
The Waterfront Design Review Panel is scheduled to meet on March 22 at 9:30 am at the Waterfront Toronto offices at 20 Bay Street. While the public will only be able to observe, there will be other opportunities to participate in the future. This meeting provides a valuable opportunity for the public to show their interest and concern for Ontario Place. Meeting details are available here.
- Ontario Place for All
Stay informed and learn how you can advocate to have your say about Ontario Place. Details here.
Limberlost Place at George Brown College
Construction is underway on Limberlost Place, the latest addition to George Brown College’s Waterfront Campus. Limberlost is a 10-storey building currently under construction at Queens Quay East and Dockside Drive. The mass timber, net-zero carbon emissions project will be the first institutional building of its kind in Ontario and will welcome students in January 2025 and will also house a childcare centre that will serve the community. Details here.
Community Consultation on Two City Applications
The City of Toronto is holding one virtual meeting on Wednesday, March 22 at 6:30 pm to discuss two planning applications:
To register, visit the Toronto website here.
Grants for Indigenous-Led Groups
Applications are open for the 2023 Capacity-building Grants for Indigenous Grassroots Groups and Collectives which can be used to create new projects, enhance existing programs or improve group operations. There is a total of $450,000 available for this year’s grant program. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis and funds allocated in three rounds throughout the year, with deadlines to apply for each round on March 21, June 21 and September 21, 2023. Details here.
Toronto Atmospheric Fund Grant
The Toronto Atmospheric Fund is offering grants to fund breakthrough GTHA climate projects related to net-zero buildings, transportation and electricity. Grant-seekers and grantees will also have access to funding for program design training and other capacity-building opportunities. Municipalities, non-profit and charitable organizations can submit expressions of interest by April 7. Application deadline is May 12, 2023.
InTO the Ravines and Sparking Change Toronto Grants
In partnership with the City of Toronto, InTO the Ravines $2500 grants will help communities host two simple, creative and engaging environmentally-focused events in their local Toronto ravine from June 1 to November 1, 2023. Application deadline is April 12, 2023.
Sparking Change Toronto $2500 grants will help active BIPOC-led community groups host an outdoor activity in their local park or green space before November 30, 2023. Application deadline is April 12, 2023.
Pam McConnell Award for Young Women in Leadership
The Pam McConnell Award is open to young women aged 16-29 who demonstrate exceptional leadership, a commitment to social justice, and inspire other young women. Application deadline is April 3, 2023. Details here.
MPP Scrolls for Special Occasions
Turning 30, 40, 80, 90 or 100? Celebrate a significant birthday with a certificate from my office.
Is there a new addition to your family? Send the name of your baby, the parents’ names and other relevant information and we’ll send a “Welcome to the World” certificate to celebrate this special event.
Chris in the House
Below are some of my recent statements at Queen’s Park:
Bill 39: Red Tape Reduction and Democracy
- Is it not possible to build housing while still respecting the outcomes of our recent municipal elections? Watch my question here.
Debate on Bill 26: Misogyny in Post-Secondary Institutions
- Statistics show that 1 in 5 women have experienced sexual assault on campuses. It’s a difficult discussion we need to have to raise awareness so we can change the culture. Watch my statement here.
The Impact of Interest Hikes on Student Loans
- Ontario students have the highest debt rate and the lowest per-student funding in the country. We need to eliminate interest on student debt. Watch my question here.
Double ODSP Rates & Improve the Homelessness Crisis
- CTV recently reported that at least two Ontarians with disabilities are choosing to die through Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) because they could not pay for housing that would reduce their suffering from their disability. Current monthly ODSP payments are 47.5 per cent short of the municipal poverty line in Toronto and 30 per cent below the province's poverty line. It is not possible to survive on these amounts in Ontario and many on ODSP are ending up homeless. I asked the Ford government to double ODSP rates. Watch my statement here.
- Rents in Toronto rose 14.5% in 2021. Those in non-rent-controlled buildings are facing rent increases of $500/month. To say that housing under the Ford government is unaffordable is a huge understatement. Watch my statement here.
- In January, my daughter gave birth to a beautiful baby boy! Becoming a grandparent has further put into perspective how urgently we need to act on the climate crisis so future generations can have a sustainable world to live in. Watch my statement here.
- We need to do everything we can to support the people of Ukraine in these incredibly difficult times. Watch my statement here.