QUEEN’S PARK — The Official Opposition Ontario NDP Black Caucus, along with NDP MPPs Sandy Shaw (Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas), Doly Begum (Scarborough Southwest) and Bhutila Karpoche (Parkdale–High Park) released the following statement:
“Doug Ford refuses to provide the direct support people, small businesses and local governments need to make it through lockdown and the COVID-19 pandemic. He refuses to provide clear, science-based guidelines for Ontarians, and transparent enforcement protocols. The result has been the further deepening of divides along racial and economic lines. Black, Indigenous and racialized Ontarians, disabled folks and people struggling with homelessness – people who were already contending with systemic discrimination – are now even more disproportionately impacted during COVID-19.
Yesterday in Hamilton, charges were laid against Sarah Jama, a Black and disability community advocate, for leading peaceful outdoor protests at Hamilton City Hall during the COVID-19 pandemic. As we write this statement, media reports that their protest will be cleared.
Similarly, this week residents of Parkdale–High Park have seen their community fridge – a local, grassroots effort started by community organizer Jalil Bokhari to address poverty – shut down. And Scarborough carpenter Khaleel Seivwright, has been met with warnings for building Toronto Tiny Shelters – insulated structures meant to give people facing homelessness a safe place to stay.
All across Ontario, communities are stepping up in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 health and economic crisis. These are people who care about their neighbours and want their communities to be strong, safe, and well-supported. But, while communities are leading the way in trying to address these critical issues, Doug Ford’s penny-pinching has only made things worse.
He has set vague, often contradictory rules and guidelines. He’s sent mixed messages – using strong language to condemn and attack some gatherings, while making excuses for others who hold large gatherings, like his MPP Sam Oosterhoff. And he has refused to invest in communities to meaningfully address critical life-and-death issues like homelessness during the pandemic.
We urge Mr. Ford to stop hoarding over $9 billion in pandemic relief funds and act now – investing immediately to help Ontarians who are struggling, ban evictions, and address the looming homelessness catastrophe in communities across Ontario. We are also calling on the Ford government to provide Ontarians with clear direction on COVID-19 restrictions and enforcement.
Otherwise, Black, Indigenous and racialized Ontarians, disabled folks, people struggling with homelessness, and community leaders that support them will continue to suffer disproportionately during the pandemic, and be disproportionately targeted for punishment.”
The Ontario NDP Black Caucus is the first official Black Caucus in the Ontario Legislature. Its members are Laura Mae Lindo (Kitchener Centre), Jill Andrew (Toronto—St. Paul’s), Rima Berns-McGown (Beaches—East York), Faisal Hassan (York—South Weston), and Kevin Yarde (Brampton North).