Community program creating a much-needed safe space for Latinx Youth

Teach2Learn (T2L) is a local grassroots organization that hosts a weekly program, “Academic Youth Success” which has created a space for Latinx youth to come together and participate in educational workshops. These workshops cover topics like: youth engagement, mediation, mindfulness, financial planning, public speaking, being a newcomer, racism, sexism, and other important topics. There are no other programs in the community that aim to help the growing Latinx community in Toronto and Jane and Finch. T2L’s goal is to bring together local Latinx youth and expand their sense of community and awareness by sharing their personal experiences in a safe space and exploring future professional goals. 

The program developed a mentorship portion and it is attended by both mentors and mentees from the Latinx community. Mentees are paired up and provide guidance, connection, and the right resources for the youths’ needs. This includes sharing job opportunities, resume building, learning about the post-secondary process and ensuring the transition from high school to post-secondary is smooth and most importantly encouraged. T2L also provides dinner and bus fare so youth can easily access the workshops. 

Academic Youth Success has been rewarding to both youth and mentors alike. Ebony, one of the mentors explains how this has been a positive experience for her:

“Being a mentor has been such a rewarding experience. I have been able to see the youth grow in so many areas of their lives through mentorship. It is exciting to see them become more confident, outspoken and comfortable in their own skin. Listening to the youth’s experiences has also pushed me to grow and allowed me to learn from them. Mentorship is extremely important because it provides our youth support and encouragement to confront life’s various adversities and helps us as mentors reflect on our lives and grow along with the youth. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be a mentor.” 

Youth are also given the opportunity to volunteer at local events and receive community service hours via the initiative.  Reference letters are also provided for youth who require them in job applications or for their studies.  The program is attended by Canadian-Latinx and newcomers in the area between the ages of 14-20.

One of the program attendees, Daniel, explains how the program has immensely helped his transition to Canada after he arrived just a year ago,

“Joining Teach2Learn last year was one of the best things that have happened to me here in Toronto. Leaving your country, your family and friends to pursue your dreams is a difficult step and trying to fit in a culture where you are an ‘outsider’ is tough. However, in the program, I found my Latin-Canadian family, a safe place where I can count on their support at any time.  I feel like this place contributes to the construction of a better society. With the different workshops and the tutoring opportunities that the program offers, I have been able to know more things about this country, connect with its people and visualize the different ways in which you can succeed from your position as a young person. I have been able to improve my English skills and feel more confident using them, helping my community and volunteering in different events and spaces. I’ve also made friends at the program that have made this transition more joyful and smooth. Mondays may seem draining but after each workshop, you are re-charged to face the rest of the week with the greatest energy.”

The program runs on Mondays during the school year at Casa Maiz near Keele and Finch. This year the organization is expanding the program to two times a week with an additional session on Tuesdays at El Centro para Gente de Habla Hispana at Jane and Wilson. Teach2Learn also provides a summer camp for children and tutoring throughout the school year.

To learn more or donate to their programs visit https://www.teach2learn.ca/ or follow them on Instagram and Facebook @teach2learn.to

Auditor General report reveals new home owners are not protected

For most people, their home is their biggest investment, and their financial future rests on its foundation.

When purchasing a newly built home, Ontario families rely on a system that is supposed to ensure builders meet the highest standards during construction, and that their warranty is respected if things don’t measure up.

A recent Auditor General (AG) report reveals that this is not what has been happening in practice.

Over the 15 long years of Ontario’s past Liberal government, complaints from new homeowners grew. They included numerous minor and major defects in new homes, a lack of information on the competence and integrity of specific builders, warranties not being respected and a complete lack of government oversight.

Many of the complaints were directed at Tarion Warranty Corporation, which is responsible for regulating Ontario’s home building industry. Tarion’s board is controlled by developers.  

While complaints from new homeowners were on the rise, Ontario NDP MPPs were raising concerns at Queens Park about Tarion and the various issues with newly built homes. But the previous Liberal government largely ignored them.

In 2018, a successful NDP amendment in committee finally granted the Auditor General (AG) the authority to audit Tarion for the first time in its 43 years of existence.

In a report released this past October, the AG made some concerning findings, including:

-builders did not honour their warranties in more than half of the cases studied;

-nearly 10,000 claims of new home buyers were denied just because they missed Tarion’s narrow and often confusing deadline periods;

-the Ontario Building Registry, which is supposed to provide important consumer information on builders, often does not provide complete information about past builder performance for buyers to make informed choices;

-builders with bad warranty records and allegations of dishonesty and law-breaking continued to get licenses; and 

-Tarion’s senior management was rewarded up to 60 per cent in salary bonuses for maximizing Tarion’s profits and minimizing claim payouts to homeowners.

For more details, the AG’s report can be found at www.auditor.on.ca.

In August of this year, I attended a packed meeting of homeowners in the highly publicized Cardinal Creek Village development in the riding of Orleans. It gave me an opportunity to visit newly built homes with major structural defects, multiple deficiencies, mould and more.  Needless to say, homeowners were furious at a “perceived conflict of interest, burden of proof on homeowners and a lack of transparency from Tarion.” Homeowners spoke of rejected claims and, at best, severely delayed payouts with many still waiting after two years.

This is simply unacceptable. The former Liberal government failed in its oversight of new home building industry, and the current Conservative government has yet to take action.

The time for action is now, and the AG has laid out a number of key recommendations to help fix this broken system. This is a start, but more must be done to fix the anti-consumer culture that has captured Ontario’s new home warranty system. The NDP will keep fighting until Ontario families have consumer protection they can count on when they buy a new home.

NDP win in Humber River-Black Creek would be historic

This federal election is shaping up to be a tight local race between NDP candidate Maria Augimeri and Liberal candidate Judy Sgro.

A Federal NDP election win in our community would be historic and a major wakeup call to politicians across this country.

I will be voting for change, and will be supporting Maria Augimeri.  As a former City Councillor and Chair of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, Maria Augimeri has a strong history of delivering wins in Downsview including new libraries, parks and playgrounds for families.  

She has also taken on big developers, protected important greenspace throughout the city, kept the new state-of-the-art TRCA headquarters in our community, and has created a bold plan for a local seniors’ campus in the William Baker Neighbourhood at Downsview Park.

One of her wins led to my interest in community advocacy.  This happened many years ago when Maria led the community in what is now University Heights in defeating a big developer at the Ontario Municipal Board.  That was an astounding victory because the OMB usually favours developers over the wishes of the community.  

I took part in that fight as a teenager and that win gave me hope that remains to this very day.

In speaking to community members during this election campaign, I continue to hear great disappointment with the federal Liberal government who were voted in so enthusiastically four years ago.

Many people tell me that they do not have prescription medical coverage and struggle to pay out of pocket for rising medicine costs.  

The Liberal government promised to lower the costs of prescription medication, something that is within their power, but instead, they sided with big pharmaceutical companies more interested in protecting their profit margins than the health of Canadians.  

In fact, the Liberal government met with big pharmaceutical and insurance companies an astounding 874 times since they have been in office.  That averages four days a week for the last four years!

The NDP, who are responsible for public health care in this country, are pushing for universal pharmacare and dental care, so that a person’s health is not dependent on their income.  This makes solid economic sense, since untreated medical conditions often lead to hospital visits and chronic health issues which ends up costing the government much more later.

While the rising cost of rent is increasingly becoming unaffordable for many and the hope of homeownership and a good career for the next generation is becoming a distant dream, this Liberal government gave away over 14 billion dollars to the richest corporations.

This government is so much on the side of big corporations that the Prime Minister fired his Attorney General because she refused to block criminal charges of a corporation with strong ties to the Liberal party.

And that, as they say, is just the tip of the iceberg.

A vote for NDP here in Humber River – Black Creek will elect a strong and experienced voice to fight for our community in Ottawa and is a clear message to politicians everywhere that action is more important than a name or a brand.