- For over a year, I have been pushing the Ford government to put more funding towards affordable housing, and housing with wraparound supports for people suffering with mental health and addictions issues. I proposed an Ontario Homelessness Prevention Strategy, drafting legislation following recommendations from the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association, the Co-operative Housing Federation of Ontario and the Canadian Mental Health Association to build at least 99,000 units of affordable, purpose-built housing over the next decade. We’ve also repeatedly called on the province to meet the City of Toronto’s funding requests to build 3,000 permanent affordable homes over the next 24 months.
Unfortunately, the Conservatives voted down my legislation this spring, and have taken no action to support the City of Toronto’s housing action plan, or resolve the growing homelessness issue in urban areas across Ontario. Instead, the Premier has cut homelessness prevention programs, reduced funding for affordable housing by $160 million, and cut $335 million from Ontario’s mental health budget. After Conservative Premier Mike Harris downloaded the responsibility of affordable housing to municipalities, neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives have taken adequate action to meet housing needs in Ontario, setting us up for the crisis we see today. Meanwhile, the cost of housing and rents have continued to rise over the last few decades, while wages have not risen at the same level.
This is the context in which the City of Toronto moved ahead with clearing multiple encampments over the last couple of months, most recently by clearing encampments at Alexandra Park and Lamport Stadium. The fact is, people require permanent housing. They should not be living in parks. The encampments have had a negative effect on many residents and businesses located around them. This does not mean we vilify the people living in them; it means we must pressure the government for immediate solutions which also respect the human rights of the vulnerable people living in the parks. The City is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on elaborate police action, and this is not the solution we need. People will get further displaced, whereas what they really need is more stability in housing and support. We need a human rights-based approach to resolve homelessness.
Premier Ford’s silence on the homelessness issue is a major problem. Governments are failing to meet the needs of our most vulnerable residents on all fronts, exacerbating the crisis. Encampments in parks are not a housing solution, but neither is police force and violence. We know the solutions. People need housing. Poverty is not a crime, and people experiencing homelessness are not criminals. They need support from the governments who have let them down. I will continue to advocate at the provincial level for the government to step in and take responsibility for this crisis we see on our streets. We need to build permanent, affordable and supportive housing.
In the meantime, I will continue to work with the Spadina-Fort York Community Care program to ensure our most vulnerable population has their basic needs met. If you are interested in assisting with our food program, or our vaccine program, please contact [email protected] . You can also share and sign our petitions that state that Everyone Deserves a Home, and the Ontario government has a responsibility to Stop Homelessness.
Ontario Place Update
- The Globe and Mail heard from sources that the Ontario government plans to give Quebec’s Écorécréo a contract for part of Ontario Place’s redevelopment, along with Austrian company Therme. Live Nation, which runs the performance venue at Ontario Place, will also have an expanded role.
The closed-door bidding process for Ontario Place’s redevelopment is of great concern to me and the local community, as well as organizations such as Future of Ontario Place and Ontario Place for All. Ontario Place is public property owned by Ontario’s taxpayers, yet the process to decide the future of Ontario Place has been anything but public.
Premier Ford has a track record of making backroom deals favouring developers and donors. This has been in full display through his Ministerial Zoning Orders and he simply has lost the trust of Ontarians. The future of Ontario Place should be determined through public input, not by Ministers appointed by Ford.
I will continue to work with Ontario Place for All and Future of Ontario Place to call for open and robust community consultation before any plans are determined. Among other things, communities have suggested that Ontario Place could be the site of an Indigenous Heritage Museum. or a water research facility. Ontario’s taxpayers should have a say in what happens to the land and property they own.
Anniversary of Danforth Shooting
- July 22nd marks three years since the fatal Danforth shooting. This tragedy forever changed many lives, and we are taking time today to remember all those impacted and who are continuing to heal. We stand in solidarity with the victims and their families in condemning this senseless act of violence that changed our city forever. We thank all our first responders for their bravery that day and we stand together as a community, committed to keeping Toronto safe for all. It is a stark reminder of the need to prevent incidents of gun violence through regulation that makes sense and protects people, and universal access to mental health programs to give people support when they need it.
Ontario Tells Colleges, Universities to Plan for “Normal Return”
- The province sent a memo to colleges and universities to expect a normal return in September, with in-person classes and activities to resume without capacity limits or physical distancing requirements. However, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities has also told the institutions to have a plan prepared for how learning will continue in the event of COVID-19 outbreaks.
Universities and colleges will still have to follow all public health and workplace safety rules, including requiring masks indoors. The schools will still have the flexibility to offer both virtual and hybrid models to best suit their needs. Specific guidance from the ministry on measures such as masks, screening and cleaning is said to be issued in August.
NDP Critic for Colleges and Universities Laura Mae Lindo said, “While the reopening of Ontario’s colleges and universities is exciting news, resuming classes at this stage of the pandemic is more complicated than just opening the doors. Ford must provide all publicly-funded colleges and universities with badly needed funding for onsite rapid testing, upgraded ventilation systems that meet airborne transmission standards and to allow physical distancing in classrooms. This is especially critical given the lack of investment over the course of 15 years of successive neglect leaving the sector struggling to upgrade older buildings.”
ServiceOntario Offering Digital Reminders
- The province has announced that Ontarians will now be able to sign up for digital reminders to renew their driver’s licence, licence plate stickers and health cards. Individuals can opt to receive reminders 30 and 60 days ahead of their renewal dates via email, text or voicemail. The system is said to have been put in place to ensure people are able to renew on time. Renewals can then be done online or you can book an in-person appointment through ServiceOntario’s online booking system.
FAO Report Shows Province Withheld $10.3 Billion
- A new report from the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO) shows the Ford government withheld $10.3 billion from Ontarians during the pandemic, including sitting on over $1 billion earmarked for long-term care and public health.
NDP Finance critic Catherine Fife said, “While our loved ones suffered in long-term care, businesses struggled through painfully long lockdowns, and the province could not keep up with things like contract tracing, the Ford government was held back billions of dollars that they refused to invest to help Ontarians.”
The FAO report shows that the government spent $10.3 billion less than promised last year. The FAO reported Ford withheld over $1 billion in health care funds during the pandemic, plus $368 million in funding for public health and $95 million for long-term care. Read the full report here.
Canada Easing Border Measures for Fully Vaccinated Travellers
- Starting August 9 at 12:01 am, Canada will allow entry to U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have been fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to entering Canada for non-essential travel and will not be required to quarantine. Children under 12 who are accompanied by fully vaccinated adults can also enter Canada without quarantining, but will be required to wear a mask in public and avoid group settings, such as school and summer camp.
Canada Border Services Agency will no longer require fully vaccinated travellers to receive a COVID-19 test on their first day in Canada, but will maintain surveillance measures by randomly selecting travellers for testing.
International flights, currently restricted to Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver, will be allowed to land at five additional Canadian airports: Halifax, Quebec City, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Edmonton. The three-night mandatory hotel stay for air travellers is also being eliminated.
Starting September 7, fully vaccinated travellers from elsewhere around the world will also be exempted. Click here for more information.
Ontario Moves to Step 3 on July 16
On Friday, July 16 at 12:01 am, Ontario will be moving to Step 3 of the reopening plan, earlier than the scheduled July 21 date, allowing facilities like restaurants and gyms to resume indoor operations. The following will be allowed:
Gatherings and Services
- Indoor social gatherings and events of up to 25 people indoors
- Outdoor social gatherings and events of up to 100 people, with some exceptions
- Larger religious services and other ceremonies like weddings and funerals can happen indoors with physical distancing measures in place
Restaurants, Bars and Clubs
- Indoor dining with no set limit on people per table or in the restaurant, as long as physical distancing can be maintained
- Nightclubs and similar businesses can reopen to 25% capacity or a maximum of 250 people, whichever is less
Sports and Recreation
- Sports and fitness facilities including gyms can reopen to 50% capacity indoors
- Indoor spectator limits are capped at 50% capacity or 1,000 people, whichever is less
- Outdoor spectator limits are capped at 75% capacity or 15,000 people, whichever is less
Retail and Other Indoor Businesses
- Retail can open to whatever capacity limit still allows people to maintain two metres of distance between people
- Personal care services like salons can open to whatever capacity limit that allows people to maintain physical distancing of two metres
- Personal care services that require people to remove their masks are permitted
- Indoor meeting and event spaces can operate with physical distancing rules and a capacity limit of 50% or 1,000 people, whichever is less
- Real estate open houses are permitted with capacity limits based on people maintaining physical distancing of two metres
Theatres, Entertainment Venues and Attractions
- Indoor concert venues, cinemas and theatres can open up to 50% capacity or a maximum of 1,000 people, whichever is less
- Outdoor concert venues, cinemas and theatres can open up to 75% capacity or 15,000 people outdoors for events with fixed seating, whichever is less
- Museums, galleries, historic sites, aquariums, zoos, landmarks, botanical gardens, science centres, casino and bingo halls, amusement parks, fairs and rural exhibitions are capped at 50% indoor capacity, 75% outdoor capacity or a maximum of 5,000 people (whichever is less) for unseated events, up to 75% of capacity or 15,000 people (whichever is less) for events with mixed seating
Masks and face coverings will remain in place in indoor public settings throughout Step 3 as will physical distancing requirements. Masks will be required in some outdoor settings along with other public health measures. Ontario will remain in Step 3 for at least 21 days and until 80% of the eligible population aged 12 and over has received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 75% have received their second, with no public health unit having less than 70% of their eligible population aged 12 and over fully vaccinated.
Toronto City Council Votes to Rename Dundas Street
- Toronto City Council has voted 17-7 in favour of renaming any streets or other city properties (including parks, TTC stations, etc.) using the name Dundas. Mayor John Tory said he supports the renaming and that removing Dundas “is the right thing to do and is inconsistent with the values that we’re trying to build up and celebrate today.”
Dundas Street was named after a Scottish politician, Henry Dundas, who played a role in delaying the abolition of the slave trade. City staff recommended renaming of the street last year following an extensive study on the role that Dundas played in abolition, found to be in conflict with Toronto’s current values of equity and inclusion, as well as a petition that was signed by nearly 14,000 people to change the name.
A Community Advisory Committee made up of Black and Indigenous leaders and representatives from those living and working along Dundas Street, including business improvement areas and resident associations, will be leading the renaming process. They will also work on a plan to support residents and the 4,000 businesses along Dundas Street that will be affected by the renaming. The City will be putting forward a selection of new names next year.
Ontario Pledges $32 Million for Addiction Services
Health Minister Christine Elliott announced that Ontario plans to spend an additional $32.7 million each year on addiction services. She said this is part of the province’s pledge to spend $3.8 billion on mental health and addiction supports over the next 10 years. The new spending includes:
- $18.8 million in bed-based investments
- $6.9 million for the provincial opioid response
- $2.25 million for a Toronto-based opioid response proposed by the Toronto Academic Health Sciences Network
The Ontario branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association said that while this funding is certainly welcomed, it doesn't go far enough, and that the government should consider increasing the cap on the number of consumption and treatment services sites across Ontario, which is currently set at 21.
We know that mental health is a huge challenge for many Ontarians who have undergone one of the longest lockdowns in the world. Yet, we continue to face long wait times to access counsellors and an egregiously low number of rehab beds. The NDP and I will continue to fight for equitable funding for mental health and addiction supports, including resolving the root causes which we know are often related to the lack of housing, jobs and rising inequality. Sign our petition if you agree we need to prioritize the mental health crisis.
#safeseptember for Schools
- A new report by the Hospital for Sick Children shows half of kids ages 8 to 12 and 70% of adolescents reported clinically significant depressive symptoms as a result of the pandemic and school closures. We know that it’s critical for kids to be in school, participate in extracurricular activities, interact with peers, and be supported by caring adults like teachers and education workers.
Currently, the government has not released plans to make schools safe and ready for a full reopening in September. We cannot ignore this mental health crisis and must get mental health supports in place immediately — from in-school councillors to crisis intervention and long-term supports. It’s absolutely essential that the government also invest in better ventilation and smaller classes, so that, come what may, our students have a full year of in-person learning.
To pressure the government to make the necessary investments, please sign the petition here.
Restrictions Eased at Long-Term Care Homes
- Beginning on July 7, the province will begin to loosen restrictions in long-term care homes. Newly appointed Minister of Long-Term Care Rod Phillips said 99% of residents and 84% of staff are fully vaccinated. Residents will now be allowed indoor visits with two visitors and two caregivers and can visit with up to 10 people outdoors. There will no longer be a limit on the number of people who can be designated caregivers. Personal care services will also resume in the homes.
Nearly 3,800 residents and 13 staff died from COVID-19 since the pandemic hit last year. The Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission found that due to years of neglect, the province had no real plan in place to protect residents from the disease. The commission also found that the devastation brought on by the pandemic was due to chronic underfunding, severe staffing shortages, outdated infrastructure and poor oversight.
The NDP and I continue to pressure this government to take the urgent steps that are needed in long-term care, including: creating 50,000 new spaces; passing legislation on the four-hour minimum standard of care; and permanently improving the wages and benefits for long-term care workers, and making their jobs full-time. Sign our petition here.
Restrictions Lifted for Fully Vaccinated Travellers
- As of July 5, travellers entering Canada who have received the full series of an accepted COVID-19 vaccine or a combination of accepted vaccines are no longer required to quarantine for 14 days. Eligible air travellers are also no longer required to spend their first three days in the country at a government-approved hotel.
The Canada Border Services Agency has said that while the quarantine rules for some travellers have changed, eligibility requirements for crossing the border have not. Travel restrictions between Canada and the U.S. which prohibit all discretionary travel between the two countries are set to expire July 21.
Travellers must use the ArriveCAN app or web portal prior to departure to log their vaccination details, as well as the results of a negative COVID-19 test that is less than 72 hours old. More information is available here.
Porter Airlines to Resume Flights in September
- Porter Airlines announced Monday that it will resume flights to Canadian destinations beginning September 8 and U.S. flights beginning on September 17. The flight schedule is returning in phases, with the initial group of Canadian destinations being Halifax, Moncton, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec City, St. John’s, Thunder Bay and Toronto. The airline said they are making all fares purchased by July 20, for travel through December 15, 2021, fully refundable, with no fees. More information here.
“We’re Ready Toronto” to Help Downtown Businesses
- The City of Toronto and the Toronto Region Board of Trade launched a new “We’re Ready Toronto” campaign that will focus on businesses located in the downtown core. The pandemic has left our downtown office towers mostly empty and businesses located in those buildings confront unique challenges. The campaign will help businesses access reopening playbooks with strategies on issues such as managing elevator capacity, reducing crowding, staggered work hours and riding safely on public transit. Small and medium-sized businesses will also be given access to free COVID-19 screening kits. The campaign will also include partnerships and promotions that are geared towards creating excitement and momentum for coming back downtown. More information here.
Free Outdoor Programs for Children, Youth
- Beginning Monday, July 5, the City of Toronto is bringing back ParksPlayTO, a free drop-in program offering camp-like activities at 74 park locations around the city. Families can participate in activities such as active games, arts and crafts, family fitness, nature and gardening, story-telling, music circles, special events and more. Summer in the 6IX is a free program for youth aged 13 to 24 to drop-in, meet up with friends and do themed activities for leadership, employment, arts, media, dance, fitness, eco/environmental and sport.
Ford Government Announces Cabinet Shuffle
- On June 18, Premier Ford announced a significant cabinet shuffle. This shuffle includes a number of changes including the replacement of Minister of Long-Term Care, Merrilee Fullerton, with Rod Phillips, the former finance minister who was forced to resign last December for travelling to St. Barts while the rest of the province was told to stay at home. Merrilee Fullerton has been named the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services.
While there was no change made to the positions of key cabinet members Health Minister Christine Elliott, Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones and Education Minister Stephen Lecce, other ministers have been removed altogether. Bill Walker, Jeff Yurek, Ernie Hardeman, Laurie Scott and John Yakabuski have lost their portfolios.
While there are a number of people changing positions, the budget for the year has already been determined and we are less than 12 months away from the next election, meaning much of this shuffle is about image rather than substance. Much of the policy has already been drafted, so this is largely being seen as a political move to raise the profile of BIPOC PC MPPs of a cabinet that was seen as “too white and too male”, and reduce the profile of rural MPPs who irked the Premier by urging him to reopen too early.
Here is the full list of changes:
- Jill Dunlop, MPP Simcoe North, Minister of Colleges and Universities
- Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, MPP Kanata-Carleton, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services
- Parm Gill, MPP Milton, Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism
- Rod Phillips, MPP Ajax, Minister of Long-Term Care
- Dave Piccini, MPP Northumberland-Peterborough South, Minister of Environment
- Greg Rickford, MPP Kenora-Rainy River, merged role as Minister of Northern Development, Mining, Natural Resources and Forestry, as well as Indigenous Affairs (This new ministry will focus on development potential and sustainability in the North while energy will transfer to a new separate ministry.)
- Todd Smith, MPP Bay of Quinte, Minister of Energy
- Ross Romano, MPP Sault Ste. Marie, Minister of Government and Consumer Services
- Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria, MPP Brampton South, President of the Treasury Board
- Kinga Surma, MPP Etobicoke Centre, Minister of Infrastructure
- Lisa Thompson, MPP Huron Bruce, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
- Stan Cho, MPP Willowdale, Associate Minister of Transportation, reporting to Minister Mulroney
- Jane McKenna, MPP Burlington, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues, reporting to Minister Fullerton.
- Nina Tangri, MPP Mississauga Streetsville, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape, reporting to Minister Fedeli
- Kaleed Rasheed, MPP Mississauga East-Cooksville, Associate Minister of Digital Government, reporting to Minister Bethlenfalvy
Ontario Road Tests
- A quick reminder that as of June 14, you can now book a G1/G2 or M1/M2 road test in Ontario, by appointment only. Due to the backlog of driver tests, additional staff are being hired and more appointments will be added over the summer. If you have a road test booked, your appointment will be honored. Book your test here: https://drivetest.ca/
Ontario Opens Borders to Quebec and Manitoba
Ontario’s borders with Quebec and Manitoba fully reopened on Wednesday, June 16. The regulation, which applied to both land and water borders, was introduced in April during the third wave in the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision comes as the situation improves in both provinces and other pandemic-related restrictions have been relaxed in recent weeks. Quebec Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault still urges caution while travelling between provinces.
Ontario to Spend $10 Million to Investigate Residential Sites
- The Ontario government announced that it will provide $10 million over the next three years to investigate and help identify, protect and commemorate the residential school burial sites of Indigenous children across the province. Since the discovery of the remains of 215 children at the former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia, there have been calls across the country for action to be taken at other former residential schools across Canada to locate undisclosed burial sites. Archaeologists, historians and forensic specialists will be among those assisting with the painstaking work required.
Toronto has the largest Indigenous population in Ontario and the fourth largest in Canada, with more than 80,000 residents from Indigenous communities. Toronto’s Indigenous Affairs Office is focused on strengthening the City’s relationship with Indigenous communities and advance reconciliation. As many of us are settlers and immigrants to this land, there is much we can do in our personal lives to learn about this important issue
- Review the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report and 94 calls to action
- Register for the University of Alberta's free online course: Indigenous Canada
Support residential school survivors and their families:
- National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
- First Nations Child & Family Caring Society
- Indian Residential School Survivors Society
The City of Toronto also launched Indigenous Peoples Month at Toronto History Museums in June. Toronto History Museums will make available Indigenous histories, cuisine, arts and stories in collaboration with community partners. Indigenous Peoples Month programming at Toronto History Museums can be enjoyed in four parts: Shop, Explore, Feast and Watch. All performances and panels are free to the public but some events will require advance registration. More information is available at Toronto History Museums.
Premier Invokes Notwithstanding Clause
- The Ontario government reconvened the legislature on Thursday, June 9 to introduce legislation that will enable it to invoke the Notwithstanding clause, overriding Canadians’ Charter rights, to deal with a court ruling on a third party election financing law. The clause gives the provincial legislature the ability to override certain portions of the charter for a five-year term.
On June 8, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice struck down major parts of Doug Ford’s changes to the Election Finances Act – saying his attempt to stop independent groups and people from expressing their views through ads a full year before the election is unconstitutional, violating Canadians’ Charter right to freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression.
No Ontario Premier has ever invoked the notwithstanding clause, but Ford has now attempted to do it twice — first, in 2018 with the Toronto election, and now with the upcoming 2022 Ontario provincial election. This government is trampling on Canadian’s rights to override the court ruling in an attempt to silence its critics which include families of long-term care residents, parents of children with autism, teachers and school communities, working people, environmental advocates, and frontline health care workers.
NDP Calling for More Funding for Small Businesses
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and the Official Opposition are calling for funding to help local businesses make it to their re-opening day, and stay open — including a new and vastly improved round of the Ontario Small Business Support Grant, and a tax credit for visiting Ontario-owned restaurants and Ontario tourism businesses.
The Official Opposition is calling for:
- A vastly improved third round of Ontario Small Business Support Grant payments
This time, the government must not leave any business behind – providing a new payment to bridge to reopening every small or medium-sized local business that’s experienced revenue decline in the third wave, compared to pre-pandemic.
- A $1,000 tourism and local restaurant tax credit
The Travel Ontario Tax Credit bill from NDP MPP Wayne Gates (Niagara Falls) gives families a $1,000 tax credit to visit qualifying tourism businesses in Ontario, including qualifying purchases at restaurants, to hotels, outfitters and attractions.
- Targeted re-opening support for personal care and service-based businesses
Especially impacted by necessary public health measures, personal care businesses like salons and service-industry businesses like restaurants need access to a Safe Reopening Grant in order to open, and stay open.
- Access to forgivable loans
Businesses may need access to capital to re-open and drive economic recovery.
According to the CFIB, “Ontario’s small businesses are only at 27% of normal revenues, so they’ll need provincial and federal relief programs for the foreseeable future to help them survive. Many business owners have invested their personal life savings in their business’s survival, but that personal well has now run dry, and government programs are drying up, too.”
Statement on Rail Deck Park and Favouring Developers
- It has been well documented that the current government has made decisions that continually favour developers, rather than the people in this province. There have been many examples, from overriding the City of Toronto’s noise by-law leading to constant construction noise disturbing families early in the morning and late at night, to issuing dozens of Ministerial Zoning Orders, some for developers who are party donors and friends of the Premier. When it comes to Ontario Place, the government has listened to private proposals, but hasn’t consulted publically with the community in good faith.
Then there’s the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT), an arms-length provincial quasi-judicial body that is difficult for members of the public to participate in, which picked a developer’s project to increase condo density and overruled the City’s planned Rail Deck Park which would have increased desperately needed public green space in our area. This tribunal is unelected and unaccountable and its decisions have historically sided with developers with high-priced lawyers rather than local constituents with concerns about their neighbourhood. It is long past time to reform LPAT and put development decisions back in the hands of residents.
I spoke in the legislature today to remind this government that their responsibility is to listen to the residents of this province, not their developer donors or lobbyists. Sign our petition calling on this government to respect local planning.
Future of CNE Under Threat
- Due to COVID-19, the CNE has been cancelled for summer 2021 and, as a result, is facing permanent closure due to the financial impacts of the pandemic. The CNE is a much-loved Toronto institution that holds special significance for many Ontarians young and old. The CNE attracts over 1.5 million visitors annually and provides 4700 jobs, primarily to youth, with 20% of summer jobs going to youth with special needs. It’s a major economic driver that generates $128 million in economic activity for Ontario each year. After 142 years, the CNE may close its gates forever— it’s non-profit model did not provide it with the financial ability to withstand the shutdowns during the pandemic.
Listen to my question regarding the CNE.
This week in Question Period, I called on this government to step in and provide the financial support needed to re-open the gates of Toronto’s beloved CNE in summer 2022 and beyond. Join me and sign our petition calling on the government to save the CNE!
Bill 282 and E-bikes
- Last Friday, a new bill was passed by the current government that could make most power-assisted bicycles, or e-bikes, illegal in Ontario. Called the Moving Ontarians More Safely Act, or “MOMS” for short, the bill, which classifies e-bikes by wheel size and weight, would restrict e-bikes in Ontario to 50 kg and a wheel size of at least 35 mm wide (approximately one and a half inches) and 350 mm in diameter (approximately 14 inches). MOMS would make the vast majority of e-bikes that are currently on the road in Ontario illegal. It’s not clear if the intent of the bill is to ban e-bikes that don’t meet the specifications set out in the bill or if it’s just a mistake. Questions posed at committee to government MPPs and the Ministry of Transportation have gone unanswered. Many seniors, low-income individuals and others have come to rely on e-bikes as their primary mode of transport and are concerned about the bill.
Read my article in Now Magazine for more on this.
FoSTRA Seeking Members
Throughout Doug Ford's term as Premier, one constant has been that his actions have repeatedly favored developers rather than local communities. This has created a great deal of controversy, whether he was opening the Greenbelt for development, pushing through highway 413, or greatly increasing the number of Ministerial Zoning Orders to overrule local community voices, it was clear that residents needed to work together to oppose concerning action from the Ontario Government. This is why I helped bring together groups in the riding to lay the foundation for FOSTRA, to ensure Torontonians have a strong voice advocating for them in decisions that affect them.
- The Federation of South Toronto Residents Associations (FoSTRA) is a non-partisan federation of residents associations that collaborate to:
- help shape the creation of good public policies at all levels of government
- preserve and enhance the quality of life for Torontonians
- promote neighborhood identity and vitality
- ensure responsible and respectful development within its boundaries
FoSTRA’s boundaries are the same as the five downtown Wards – Wards 4, 9, 10, 13 – and the Ridings and Electoral Districts of Parkdale-High Park, Davenport, Spadina-Fort York, Toronto Centre plus Ward 11, and University-Rosedale south of Bloor Street.
FoSTRA has established itself as a federal non-profit, and is accepting membership requests for resident, community, neighbourhood, and tenants associations as well as housing co-ops to consider.
If you would like more information or an application form, please email: [email protected]
Income Tax Assistance from CRA
- Tax filing may be more challenging for some people this year because of COVID-19. Filing a tax return is very important as it will let the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) determine if someone is eligible for certain benefit and credit payments, such as the Canada Child Benefit and the GST/HST credit. To help, the CRA will offer extra support to eligible individuals who have previously received support through the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP). Individuals who need help completing their income tax return can call 1-833-995-2341.
CRA has already identified a number of eligible Canadians for this program. Those individuals will receive a personalized letter from the CRA with special information to help confirm that the calls they get are legitimate. This letter may come in the mail or be available through the CRA’s My Account portal. If you have received this letter, more information can be found by going to Canada.ca/tax-filing-assistance.
Starting this month through to October 2021, the CRA will call these individuals and help them by directing them to free virtual tax clinics or to online certified tax software products (including a number of free options) and, in certain situations, the CRA agent may be able to help individuals do their taxes over the phone.
To be eligible, and individual must have:
- a modest income;
- a simple tax situation; and
used free tax clinics in the past or be eligible to use those clinics.
Construction & Road Closures
Below is the July schedule for road closures to accommodate the City of Toronto’s ActiveTO program:
Saturday, July 10 and Sunday, July 11
- (Gardiner Expressway will be closed for maintenance)
- Roads within Exhibition Place
Saturday, July 17 and Sunday, July 18
- Lake Shore Boulevard West (eastbound lanes), between Jameson Avenue and Stadium Road
Saturday, July 24 and Sunday, July 25
- Lake Shore Boulevard West (eastbound lanes), between Jameson Avenue and Stadium Road
Saturday, July 31 and Sunday, August 1
- Lake Shore Boulevard West (eastbound lanes), between Windermere Avenue and Stadium Road
Site Investigations Along Waterfront
- In preparation for the Inner Harbour West Tunnel of the Don River and Central Waterfront Wet Weather Flow System, the City of Toronto will be carrying out site investigations to determine soil, rock and groundwater conditions, and confirm below ground utilities at multiple locations across the downtown waterfront. Work is expected to take place June to December 2021 between 7:00 am and 7:00 pm, Monday to Friday, with work after hours and on Saturdays as required. For more information, email [email protected], call 416-338-7052, or visit toronto.ca/drcw-project.
Investigative drilling work on York Street
- Metrolinx will be using drill rigs and trucks to gather information and evaluate underground conditions. Work is scheduled to begin July 21, Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm, and will last one week. Southbound lane will be temporarily closed. Residents and businesses can expect to hear noise caused by a drill rig, trucks and other construction equipment related to this work. For more information, visit Metrolinx.com/OntarioLine.
Queen Street West Construction: Bay Street to Fennings Street
The City of Toronto and Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) have coordinated a number of infrastructure upgrades on Queen Street West, which include:
- replacement of streetcar track from Bay Street to Fennings Street
- replacement of streetcar track at the intersection of Queen Street West and Shaw Street
- replacement of watermain and City-owned portion of substandard water services from Bay Street to University Avenue
- improvements to the streetscape along Queen Street West, in partnership with the Queen Street West Business Improvement Area (BIA)
Work will start at Bay Street and move west towards Spadina Avenue (planned for June to August), and then from Fennings Street east towards Spadina Avenue (planned for August to December). Vehicles will not be allowed in the work zones for up to four weeks to allow the work to be completed faster. More information here.
Yonge Street Abutment Work
- The overnight Yonge Street abutment work between Lakeshore Avenue and The Esplanade continues into July. This work is part of the 81 Bay Street Overbuild associated with CIBC SQUARE construction project.
Track Rail Panel Replacement: Cherry Street to Parliament Street
- Beginning as early as July 9, maintenance crews will be replacing track rail panels along the north side of the corridor between Cherry and Parliament Streets that will continue into August. Work will be conducted overnight, between 9:00 pm and 5:30 am. Track replacement is necessary to ensure safety for our commuter and resident customers. Heavy machinery, back-up beepers, and other loud tools should be expected. New creosote-presoaked ties will replace the old ties at Parliament Street. An odour may be detected by some who reside closer to the tracks for work scheduled July 16-18 and will linger for a period, but should dissipate quickly, even more so with the presence of rain. If you have any questions, call 416-202-3900 or email [email protected].
Vegetation and Tree Clearing Union Station East Rail Corridor
- Crews will clear/remove and prune designated trees and vegetation located within the East Rail Corridor, from Union Station to Queen Street at Bayview Avenue, and areas along the south side near the Don Yard. Ongoing vegetation control inside rail corridors is essential to operating safe and reliable GO train service while protecting the space for new infrastructure. Native trees removed as part of this work will be replaced within the City of Toronto through a compensation program and will increase the tree count in the region. This work will begin late July into August 2021 and last for approximately four to six weeks. Majority of work will take place between 7:00 am and 7:00 pm on weekdays, and possibly on weekends. If you have any questions, call 416-202-3900 or email [email protected].
Investigative Drilling Work Delayed on Bathurst Street near King Street West
- This work has been further delayed due to the availability of the specific, smaller drill rig needed to carry out work at this location without impacting the overhead wires. Work is anticipated to resume on July 26 and last up to five weeks.
Grants and Programs
Program for Indigenous Tourism in Ontario
- The Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO), in collaboration with Indigenous Tourism Ontario (ITO), and the Ontario Tourism Education Corporation (OTEC), are now accepting applications for A Three Fires Collaborative Quest Program - a program designed to support recovery and growth of the province’s Indigenous tourism workforce by building the labour pool and filling critical gaps within the industry.
To apply for the program as a potential employee, you must self-identify as Indigenous. You will have the opportunity to participate in training workshops facilitated by OTEC and you will be matched with tourism employers to complete a paid job placement.
To apply for the program as an employer, you must be a tourism business in Ontario, and you must be willing to support your new employee’s training and development in collaboration with the program. After completing the program you will be eligible to receive a wage subsidy of 30%, to a maximum of $3,000 per employee hired. To apply, click here.
Pam McConnell Memorial Art Competition
- The City of Toronto invites professional artists (including artist teams) to submit proposals for an outdoor three-dimensional sculptural public artwork that captures the likeness of the late Deputy Mayor Pam McConnell and has an element of engagement and accessibility with the viewer. The art component of this new public space will be selected through an open, one-stage competition, with a net budget of approximately $250,000 (+HST). The primary site for artists to consider is south of the Pam McConnell Aquatic Centre, located at 640 Dundas Street East (at the corner of Sumach Street) in the grassed landscaped area to the west of the walkways that criss-cross the park-like setting. The site will be described in detail in the Terms of Reference. The commissioned artist will work closely with the City’s Economic Development and Culture, working in collaboration with Parks, Forestry and Recreation and other partners to develop and complete the project.
Submission deadline: August 16 at 4:00 pm. For more information, contact Johnson Ngo, Public Art Officer at 437-881-2998 or email [email protected].
Feedback on Ontario Tourism and Travel Small Business Support Grant
- The Ontario Tourism and Travel Small Business Support Grant was announced as part of the provincial government’s budget on March 24th. The grant offers tourism businesses the opportunity to apply for up to $20,000 in government grant support. It was recently opened for applications, but there haven’t been as many applications to the fund as expected. Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO) wants to hear from you about whether you have applied for the grant, found yourself ineligible or learn of any other reasons why you’ve not been able to apply for the grant. This will help advise the government and work to ensure this much-needed funding gets to the businesses it was intended to support. Fill out the survey here.
Ontario Restaurant & Bar Support Fund
- The Fund is a private sector, registered not-for-profit organization established to help support as many Ontario food and beverage establishments as possible to reopen and recover from the financial setbacks of the pandemic. The Fund’s website has details for businesses wanting to become a corporate sponsor in support of the hospitality industry in Ontario. Visit www.RestaurantandBarSupportFund.ca. There is a GoFundMe page for patrons who wish to donate the cost of a night out (i.e. $25) in support of restaurants, bars and entertainment establishments: www.gofundme.com/ontario-restaurant-and-bar-support-fund.
Applying for an Ontario Arts Council Grant
Applying for an arts grant can be confusing or overwhelming. This spring, the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) is offering a series of webinars for Ontario-based artists and arts groups to learn the basics of applying for OAC funding. These webinars are for people who:
- have never applied for an arts grant before
- have an idea for an arts project in mind and are wondering how to apply for funding
- have applied for a grant before, but did not receive one
- want to learn more about what makes a successful application
If you already have a project in mind, and you have a specific question about your project, please email [email protected].
Pathways to Success Program for Indigenous Youth
- The Indigenous Professional Association of Canada’s Pathways to Success Program creates new opportunities for internships and summer work experiences for Indigenous youth (17-29) in Toronto, Winnipeg and Edmonton. They are currently looking for employers and Indigenous youth to participate in the program. For more information, visit the Pathways to Success website and signup page.
Private Refugee Support Network Ontario
- The Private Refugee Sponsor Network Ontario (The Network) is a volunteer-driven organization with 260 sponsors working together in response to community need, offering information, education, problem solving, and networking opportunities to enable private sponsors to better support refugee families. The Network is playing a significant role in resolving post-arrival issues, addressing potential sponsorship breakdown and creating relationships with settlement agencies that will lead to more effective service delivery in the sector. To learn more about the Private Refugee Sponsor Network Ontario, email [email protected], or visit the website at www.refugeesponsornet.ca.
Seniors Assistance Home Maintenance Program
- Do you need help around your home? This program enables older adults and individuals with disabilities to continue to live independently and safely in their own homes with support from brokered home maintenance workers. Services at reasonable prices include: lawn and garden maintenance, snow shovelling, light housekeeping, odd jobs around the house. For more information, visit www.tigp.org, email [email protected] or call 416-531-8447 ext. 501.
Toronto Rent Bank Program
Toronto Rent Bank Program is currently offering grants of up to $4,000 or 3 months of rent to eligible low-income households who are facing eviction. Toronto residents may be eligible for an interest-free rental arrears or rental deposit grant if they:
Live in Toronto
Pay market rent for a rental unit covered by the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA)
Fall within the low-income household eligibility requirement
Can satisfy other Toronto Rent Bank Program requirements, as required
Please call 416-397-RENT (7368) for more information on how to apply. Operating hours are Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. This program is offered by Neighbourhood Information Post and funded by the City of Toronto. Visit www.torontorentbank.ca for more details.
Fun Things to Do
- Beaches Jazz Virtual Concert: The Beaches Jazz Festival presents the Virtual Concert Series that can be streamed free online. July 15-16.
- Becoming Garden: Jamii and Canadian Stage present this experience honouring Indigenous ways in an outdoor garden filled with songs, stories and joyful art-making. Book tickets here. For accommodations or inquiries call 647-504-2703 or email [email protected] David Crombie Park, 131 The Esplanade. July 16-17.
- CityView Drive-In: A series of concerts hosted at Polson Pier. 20 Polson Street
- Communal Picnic 2021: The Depanneur and The Bentway have teamed up for this dinner series taking place on Thursdays in July & August, from Canada Day to Labour Day. They are partnering with local restaurants, Don Chingón Cocina Mexicana, to offer a Mexican Brunch Picnic every Saturday. The Depanneur and The Bentway will supplement Pay It Forward donations to help provide fresh meals for the Spadina-Fort York Community Care Program to distribute to those in need in the community. More information available here.
- Dream in High Park: Canadian Stage presents a diverse menu of programming this summer at the High Park Amphitheatre including theatre, dance, comedy, contemporary and baroque music. 1873 Bloor St. W. Until September.
- Family Feud Canada – Auditions: Think your family has what it takes to be in Season 3 of this popular game show? Apply by submitting your virtual audition. April 12 - August 31.
- Let’s Do Summer Pop-Up: @letsdosummer brings you a wood fire BBQ pit and outdoor kitchen offering fresh summer inspired treats, fresh pressed juices and soft serve. 621 Richmond St. W. Until August 2.
- Luminato Golden Hour: This online series introduces new artists to the broader community, offers them opportunities to hone their curatorial skills, and provides an international platform for their work. Until August 1.
- Market 707 Virtual Marketplace: Housed in retrofitted shipping containers, Market 707 offers a unique street food and retail experience. This vibrant community space brings together local entrepreneurs serving delicious international street food and unique goods and services to create an urban food and shopping experience unlike any other. Check out the new online site here.
- Mini Art Crawl on Toronto Island: Explore local artists’ works displayed in elevated miniature display cases as you stroll along the island’s cozy streets. View the map here.
- Music on the River: Take a scenic paddle along the Humber River and then watch Toronto artists on the dock from your canoe or kayak. Until October 15.
- Myseum Intersections: The 6th annual festival is now underway with plenty of exciting virtual events starting with Images of Resistance: An Archive of Action, an exhibit that reflects on the historic 2008-2009 Tamil demonstrations in Toronto, culminating in a blockade of the Gardiner.
- Ontario Parks Free Admission: The Ontario government is providing free day-use permits at 115 provincial parks from Monday to Thursday until September 2. More information here.
- Ontario Place Drive-In: Enjoy your favourite movies at the waterfront drive-In. Spots will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis. 955 Lake Shore Blvd.
- Ontario Place Over Floe: This sculpture installation by Toronto artist John Notten will float in the inner lagoon from spring until fall. An initiative of ArtWorxTO, it joins numerous other exciting projects across the city. More information here.
- Playing in the Park: The Bentway presents a collection of outdoor and online projects that invite you to rediscover “play” this summer. From under the Gardiner, to Canoe Landing Park, to the Waterfront, the summer season includes eight new art installations, a connective Play Path, roaming and audio experiences, and more.
- Queen’s Park Outdoors: Enjoy a free guided outdoor tour of Ontario’s parliament and learn about the history of the site, the work of parliament and more. 111 Wellesley Street West. Monday to Friday, 10 am - 5 pm. Until September 3.
- Queen Street Virtual Tours: Riverside BIA (Queen St East) and Queen Street West BIA have teamed up to create three virtual walks highlighting local restaurants, public art, and historical elements of these two beloved Toronto neighbourhoods.
- RendezViews: Enjoy 45,000 square feet of colour in this social gathering space inside an extra-large mural. The work called Reflections was painted by Bruno Smoky and Shalak Attack. 229 Richmond St. W.
- Royal Conservatory Live: A new free web-based series where stars of the stage and screen discuss music that inspires them.
- Ryerson University Film Festival: Ryerson’s first-ever virtual film festival celebrating fourth year Image Arts thesis films. July 16-18.
- Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival: This 25th anniversary edition features a redesigned website with an array of online conversations, audio features, videos and photo essays. More information here.
- St. Lawrence Farmers Market: The Saturday Farmers Market returns to Market Street (between The Esplanade and Wilton Street). The indoor Farmers Market area operates from 5am-3pm and the South (main) Market building is open on Saturdays from 5:00 am - 4:00pm.
- Spring Stations: A safe outdoor activity that can be enjoyed individually, or among groups who share the same household, Spring Stations brings art installations to the Distillery District and 33 Parliament. Until July 31.
- Summer in the 6IX: Free City of Toronto program for youth aged 13 to 24, offering opportunities to drop in, meet up with friends and participate in themed activities. Monday to Friday until September 3.
- Summer Music in the Park: This year, Bloor-Yorkville’s Summer Music in the Park concert series is going virtual #BYLiveEdition. Until September 9.
- Tasty Tours: Explore Kensington Market, Downtown Toronto and other areas of the city via Tasty Tours food tours.
- TESSEL: A new film from George Brown dance grad Esie Mensah this national initiative of unity features the stories and lived experiences of 14 pioneering Black artists. Streaming free online.
- Toronto Concert Orchestra Symphony in the City: TCO’s virtual concerts will take place every other Tuesday at 7:00 pm until August 31.
- Toronto Downtown West BIA ArtWalk: Showcasing over 70 art installations in the district, ArtWalk provides an interactive map of themed routes that can be enjoyed online or as a self-guided walking tour.
- Toronto Fringe Festival: Celebrating its 33rd year, this year’s festival goes digital. Daily free programming at POSTSCRIPT, a pop-up patio at Scadding Court. July 21-31
- Toronto Railway Museum at Home: This virtual program is packed full of activities for train lovers and enthusiasts to enjoy at home, including crossword and jigsaw puzzles, virtual tour guides, scavenger hunts and more.
- Trinity Bellwoods Farmers Market: The market will operate May 4 to October 26, 2021, every Tuesday (rain or shine) from 3-7pm. Dundas & Shaw at the northwest end of Trinity Bellwoods Park.
- Walk Liberty: Enjoy this interactive portal inviting you to explore the rich history, public spaces, and dynamic and eclectic businesses of Liberty Village.
- Yoga at Bickford Park: Allow the outdoors to be part of your practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:00 pm & 7:15 pm and Sundays at 11:00 am. Pay what you can. 400 Grace St.