NDP keeps pushing for auto insurance reform

Over 150 local residents packed an auto insurance town hall meeting I hosted in November to pressure this government to bring down the unfair auto insurance rates we pay in our community.

The community meeting was part of a series of auto insurance town halls Ontario’s NDP is holding across the GTA, each packed with people demanding change.

Our community continues to pay some of the highest auto insurance rates in this country even though we do not have the highest number of accidents on our streets.  In fact, there are even some in this community who are unable to drive because the insurance is simply unaffordable.

Ontario’s NDP has been fighting against auto insurance postal code discrimination for years but the Liberals, and now Doug Ford’s Conservative government, sided with big auto insurance corporations over the people.

In 2012, former NDP MPP Jagmeet Singh (and current federal NDP leader) tabled a private member’s bill that would have ended postal code discrimination, but both the Conservatives and the Liberals voted against it, and the bill failed. Later, the NDP extracted a promise from the provincial Liberals to reduce auto insurance rates by 15 per cent, but the Liberals simply broke their promise.

Most recently in October 2018, an NDP bill by MPP Gurratan Singh who attended our community meeting, called for auto insurance companies to treat the GTA as a single postal code when determining insurance rates.

Unfortunately, Doug Ford’s Conservative government voted against this NDP bill that aimed to bring down insurance rates for drivers. What’s more, one of the first things the Ford government did when taking office was to pave the way for a nine per cent hike to auto insurance rates.

Our community is tired of being taken advantage of by auto insurance corporations and deserve to be treated fairly.  I will continue to keep up the fight.

Teach2Learn in the Latinx Community

Teach2Learn (T2L) is a program focused on the Latinx community in Toronto. T2L began with a group of parents trying to encourage their children to pursue higher education. One problem our community faces is that as immigrants we work and focus on economic stability and this at times leads us to deprioritize our education. That is one of the reasons why the drop-out rate for the Latinx community is one of the highest in Toronto at 40%.

Encouraging and working to ensure members from our community stay in school is a top priority for T2L. Together with the Conoser Scholarship Fund group, the charity organization that supports our organization and other valuable community programs, T2L is dedicated to finding funds for projects addressing the needs of our community.

This year we managed to obtain funds from Trillium. We used this to fund programs in three different locations on a weekly basis helping youth and parents navigate the school system. One program provides newly arrived Latinx parents with workshops that provide assistance navigating the TDSB system. This series of workshops gives guidance and support to Spanish-speaking parents through new information and tools designed to effectively enrich their role as parents and build their capacity to teach other members of their community and give them tools to effectively parent in the TDSB school system.

Another program T2L collaborates with is Academic Youth Success (ASY). It aims to bring high school students together with the goal of expanding youth’s community awareness and broadening their personal experiences. ASY focuses on character and leadership development, education and career development, health and life skills, art and cultural experiences, and most importantly, a secure space in which youth can feel a sense of belonging.

Our programs are absolutely free of cost and we do our best to make them as accessible as possible to all youth. Youth who choose to be a part of our programs are able to network with like-minded individuals, meet community and business leaders, and are able to obtain recommendation letters for their commitments and efforts in the programs.

The leaders of this program are also young members from our community who have experienced the needs as newcomers. These individuals lead the tutoring program where children practice their native language and receive help completing their homework. They benefit the community and we are always seeking volunteers. Reach out if you are interested – even if you are not a newcomer this is an opportunity to exchange knowledge and build a community that is united and strong.

Learn more at teach2learn.ca.

My choice for progress in our community

The upcoming municipal election poses a great challenge in our area and around the City. The Provincial government changed the number of council seats from 47 to 25 only midway through the election. The courts stated that this infringes on our Charter of Rights and Freedoms but the province threatened the use of a notwithstanding clause to overrule this decision and the Court of Appeal granted a stay to the 25 ward model.  So it looks like our area will have two sitting Councillors face off for the seat. For me, it is a simple choice. There is such deep contrast between the hard work and compassion of Anthony Perruzza and the divisiveness and malice of Giorgio Mammoliti. I have seen first-hand the work Anthony has done for others in the area and I have so much respect for what he does in our community.

When I was an undergraduate student I called my Councillor’s office not knowing much about Anthony Perruzza and said I wanted to volunteer. I did not how deeply that call would affect future years of my life. I joined a group of committed activists working in his office and all I had to do to enter the halls of power at City Hall was demonstrate that I wanted to make a positive change in my community. As a young person, having attended local schools, I wanted to give back to my community.

It was Anthony Perruzza who provided me with the space and the support to run a mentoring program at CW Jefferys that helped dozens of students that year. The same way he helped me do something positive I saw him quietly working with countless groups, organizations and individuals to help build our neighbourhood.

This is a diverse community where over a hundred languages are spoken and where 9 in 10 people are either not born in Canada or their parents were immigrants, me included. I have seen the work Anthony has done with many communities to build our neighbourhood a piece at a time, one park at a time, one street at a time.

There is the reason why Anthony Perruzza is one of the most popular City of Toronto Councillors, with 71% of the vote in the last election and why with every election his popularity has increased. There are literally thousands of young people out there that have been affected directly by his work. From park clean ups with hundreds of participants from our schools, to holiday toy giveaways, to bicycles given to youth every year, to scholarships at York University, to having him attend almost all graduations in the area every year, I have seen him do things that other Councillors simply do not do.

This area is my home. I want representation that is compassionate and truly rooted in community. Now as I complete my graduate studies at OISE, I understand the meaning of moving beyond the politics of representation when working for change. Our leaders need to be bold, hold true to their values and represent their community with care. Anthony Perruzza has proven himself time and time again. For me, the choice is clear. For a progressive, inclusive community I know whom I will be supporting.


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