MPP Jill Andrew has been a shining example of what it takes as a politician to put the safety and needs of your constituents first. She has fought to keep Toronto tenants from being evicted during the hardships of the pandemic, and has advocated for everything from banning above-guideline rent increases to restoring arts funding to implementing an Eating Disorder Awareness Week. She is a certified trailblazer as the first Black queer MPP in Ontario, and she is the founding member of the Ontario NDP Black Caucus, believed to be the first of its kind in Canada.
By Jessica Bell | MPP, University-Rosedale
I first met Jill Andrew shortly after we won our races in June 2018. We were immediately thrust into the all-consuming role of opposition MPPs during the chaotic reign of the Doug Ford government.
This is what I most appreciate about Jill. Jill is a passionate advocate for her residents, always with her eye on equity and fairness. About 60 per cent of the constituents in her district of Toronto–St Paul’s are renters, and many struggled with the threat of eviction because they lost their job during the pandemic. Jill stands up for them — just like she advocates for affordable housing and government aid for the struggling small businesses along Little Jamaica and midtown.
I’ll let you in on a secret: sometimes when the camera isn’t on us, we work on our laptops in the legislature. When Jill gets up to speak, however, I always stop and listen. Her speeches are well researched yet personal, and her delivery is captivating. My favourite speech of Jill’s was on her bill to recognize the first week of February as Eating Disorders Awareness Week. The bill’s purpose is to help the estimated three million and counting Canadians who live with eating disorders, one of the most serious and deadly of mental health issues, social stigma and body shame. Jill spoke about her own experience with body image and the support she received from the organization Sheena’s Place. The bill passed unanimously. I keep a copy of Jill’s speech in my office.
See our full list of Toronto’s most inspiring women of 2021 here.