Toronto-St.Paul’s MPP urges Ontario Premier Doug Ford to help Little Jamaica

Jill Andrew

Toronto-St. Paul’s NDP MPP Jill Andrew called on Premier Doug Ford on Monday to support the NDP’s initiatives to help businesses in Little Jamaica decimated by the decade-long construction on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, their losses compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When a small business closes, families suffer, jobs are lost and the very culture, heritage and identity of our communities disappear,” Andrew said. “Tomorrow, June 1, rent is due yet again for small business owners in my community, which has been ripped through by construction for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT for over a decade.

“Store owners who can have pivoted to online sales and curbside delivery, but overall sales have plummeted for most, and with Crosslinx now negotiating for a later completion date, this community is looking at years more chaos, inaccessible sidewalks, lack of customer parking and blocked access to storefronts and economic trauma — for many, it feels as if there is no end in sight.”

A report by Black Urbanism Toronto shows that over 140 small businesses have shuttered in Little Jamaica alone since the start of the LRT’s construction.

Andrew urged the Ford government to pass her motion to establish a Little Jamaica Economic Health and Community Wellness Strategy, which would give direct funding to small businesses, provide heritage designation to Little Jamaica, an arts strategy to showcase the cultural wealth of the community and a commitment to building affordable housing in all new residential construction projects.

“The government must consult our small businesses, loosen the eligibility requirements of the Ontario Small Business Support Grant program, and help businesses make it to reopening day by creating a designated fund for Black, racialized and women-owned businesses in the community, who often face systemic discrimination when accessing funding,” Andrew said.

Andrew also called on the government to support the NDP motion demanding a complete eviction ban for all commercial tenants during the COVID-19 pandemic.