In My Opinion: Local advocacy is rewarding work

My most rewarding job as an MPP is helping residents and groups address local needs and concerns. Many in our community are engaged in building up Beaches-East York, and I am happy help them advance their causes.

To give you a broader sense of how we support local advocacy, I wanted to share some of the work my office has done over the past two years. Hopefully this will encourage even more opportunities to advocate for positive change in our riding.

First, we’ve increased activity in our office, where we advocate on behalf of constituents with Service Ontario and the various Ministries (concerning health cards, OSAP questions, etc.). We’ve done this by raising awareness of the services we can help with via advertising, flyers, informal “meet and greets”, and by encouraging community organizations to keep in touch with our office. Not everyone needs our help, but chances are you know someone who might, and we encourage you to send them our way. If the issue falls outside of our jurisdiction, we make sure you get connected to the right people.

Second, we’ve helped community organizations and places of worship in Beaches-East York promote their outreach and fundraising efforts, and apply for community grants. If you know of a group or event that could use a hand, get in touch.

Third, we’ve worked with local advocates, assisting constituents with petitions, developing legislative ideas, facilitating communications with Government and aiding in community-building efforts. A few examples include:

• Outlawing “non-refundable waitlist fees” at daycares. Brought to my attention by constituents, we read petitions to the Legislature, introduced a Private Member’s Bill, and the practice was banned by the province shortly thereafter.

• Helping a constituent raise awareness of proper maintenance of ice-making machines in health and long-term care facilities, in order to keep patients safe.

• Connecting Toronto Fire Services with the Insurance Bureau of Canada, so hundreds of carbon monoxide detectors could be distributed through TFS’ training and home safety programs;

• Helping parents secure a school bus for grade 5 and 6 students in Crescent Town when their children were transferred to a different school, ensuring their safe arrival;

• Working with Community Centre 55 to resolve a licensing dispute with the Ministry of Education so they could continue operation of their summer camps; and,

• Advocating on issues that constituents are championing, including amending the commercial vacancy tax rebate, ending distribution of “Your Ward News”, promoting fair treatment of vaping/e-cigarette sellers, and promoting the need for a French-language high school in East Toronto.

Finally, we connect constituents to our government by hosting information sessions and sharing direct links to public consultations on my Facebook page (facebook.com/apottsmpp). We’re currently encouraging constituents to comment on our moratorium on the expansion of bottled water in Ontario, and on proposed reforms to the Ontario Municipal Board.

I’m proud of the legislative work I’ve done over the past couple of years, both with our government and through my Private Member’s Bills outlawing unfair tip sharing, introducing a “Men’s Health Awareness Week”, and protecting consumers’ loyalty rewards points. That said, our ability to support local efforts is most rewarding. If there is an issue or cause you’d like to promote, discuss, or address, please contact my office and let’s see how we can help.

Arthur Potts is MPP for Beaches-East York.


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