On March 22, we learned an important lesson: that fighting back makes a difference..
After weeks of promoting a flawed autism plan, and insisting it was best we could expect, the Ford Government blinked. They lifted the brutal income limits on accessing autism services, and included speech pathology and occupational therapy among the range of services. After weeks of closed doors, one opened a crack.
The plan is still deeply flawed, and the movement for inclusive autism services continues. My colleague Monique Taylor (MPP for Hamilton Mountain) passed a motion to create an autism program that’s reflective of kids’ individual needs, and based on evidence. We are now calling on the government to honour this motion. You can watch me speaking to the motion here.
This is the moment we will remember for years to come. This is the time when people at a community level are realizing their collective power, and organizing to demand more from politics. I have never had a prouder moment in my life as an MPP.
Fighting back makes a difference my friends, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Remember, it’s about us, and building the strength of us.
My very best,
Update from the Legislature
We’ve heard from countless people in Ottawa Centre who are concerned about the government’s changes to health care, and how it opens the door to increased privatization. I share these concerns, and recently spoke in the legislature against time allocation being imposed on the omnibus health care bill, and for front-line workers and physicians to be meaningfully consulted.
Seniors and Accessibility
March was an important month for accessibility as the long-awaited Report on the Third Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) by David C. Onley was released. Onley’s report is a call to action, emphasizing that Ontario is failing millions of people with disabilities and their families by its “agonizingly slow” progress towards full accessibility. The report contains 15 different recommendations, including several directed towards the built environment, and we are calling on the government to act swiftly in implementing them.
We also saw a modest victory for accessibility as the Minister for Seniors and Accessibility ended a 258-day long freeze on AODA standards development committees for education and health care on after we published an open letter calling on him to do so.
The government's recent announcements around education cuts and increased class sizes has a lot of parents worried and upset. These changes will take away more than $1 billion from our kids and classrooms over four years, and teachers and other professionals will be stretched even thinner than they already are. Our children deserve better and we are fighting to ensure that we invest more into our schools, not tearing our education system apart.
I am proud to say that this Thursday, I will be visiting schools in Ottawa Centre who are participating in a province-wide walkout calling on the government to stop the cuts to education. More than 100,000 students have registered across the province and I am inspired by their organizing.
Community Builders' Forum
On April 26-28, we are hosting our Community Builders’ Forum, a three day, free organizing conference where we will bring valuable Ottawa Centre organizations and organizers together to share skills, learn from one another and build connections.
We will be sharing skills on how to organize canvasses, fundraise, data collection and much more. The weekend will consist of not just learning, but doing as we will be organizing for a caring economy and the environment.
Our organizing programme has picked up steam in the last few weeks in the lead-up to our big event at the end of April: the Community Builders’ Forum. Joel will be canvassing in Old Ottawa East this Saturday morning. Come join him at Café Qui Pense, 204 Main St., at 11 a.m., and RSVP to JHarden-CO@ndp.on.ca. We now also have volunteers doing calls, data entry, and door-to-door canvassing throughout the week. If you would like to talk to your fellow Ottawa Centre residents and promote the Forum, let us know when you are available!