Transcript: Crisis at Queen's Park and Other Top Stories | Apr 23, 2021

Nam sits in a room with gray walls and houseplants in the background. She's in her early forties, with shoulder length straight brown hair. She's wearing glasses, a blue blazer over a blue blouse, and two necklaces.

A caption on screen reads "Who gets life-saving care in Ontario?

Nam says THE AGENDA THIS WEEK HEARD FROM WOMEN ON THE PANDEMIC'S FRONT LINES, DISCUSSED THE NATIONAL CHILD CARE ANNOUNCEMENT; AND LEARNED MORE ABOUT ONTARIO'S BLACK CAUCUS. THE AGENDA'S WEEK IN REVIEW BEGINS WITH A MESSY WEEK AT QUEEN'S PARK.

Music plays as an animated slate reads "The week in review."

In a clip, Steve sits in the studio.
A caption on screen reads "Will COVID-19 bring down the Ford government? What were they thinking?"

Then, it changes to "Robert Benzie. Toronto Star. @robertbenzie."

Robert is in his fifties, clean-shaven, with short gray hair. He's wearing a gray pinstripe suit, blue shirt and spotted blue tie.

He says YOU KNOW WHAT THE PROBLEM IS, STEVE? THEY GOT TOLD BY THE DOCTORS THAT THEY NEED TO LIMIT MOBILITY, AND THE BEST WAY TO LIMIT MOBILITY IS TO GET PEOPLE NOT TO GO TO WORK, SO TO CLOSE MORE WORKPLACES. BUT THEY DIDN'T WANT TO DO THAT. THEY FOUGHT IF THERE'S ANOTHER WAY TO LIMIT MOBILITY IT'S HAVING POLICE HARASSING PEOPLE WHEN THEY'RE DRIVING AROUND AND TRYING TO KEEP PEOPLE OFF THE ROAD. THE PROBLEM WITH THAT AND I THINK JOHN HORGAN IN BRITISH COLUMBIA IS GOING TO FIND IT'S A PROBLEM, IT'S INFRINGING PEOPLE'S CIVIL LIBERTIES. IN B.C. THEY'RE THINKING ABOUT IMPOSING MORE DRACONIAN MEASURES ON THAT FRONT. THEY LOOKED AT A PROBLEM THAT THEY HAD AND USED A SLEDGEHAMMER TO TRY AND FIX IT AND IT ENDED UP SMASHING WHAT THEY WERE TRYING TO FIX. AT THE END OF THE DAY, DOCTORS AND SCIENTISTS SAID LIMIT MOBILITY. DOCTORS AND SCIENTISTS DIDN'T SAY HAVE POLICE HOUNDING EVERYONE AND THEIR UNCLE WHILE THEY'RE DRIVING AROUND IN ONTARIO. THAT IS JUST NOT A GOOD LOOK. SYLVIA JONES DELIVERED THE MESSAGE, BUT I'M TOLD NO ONE IN CABINET SAID THIS IS A BAD IDEA. SO THEY ARE ALL WEARING IT. THE PREMIER THEN HAD TO WALK IT BACK THE NEXT DAY, WHICH IS A STUNNING U-TURN.

Steve says WELL, IT'S A STUNNING U-TURN, JESSICA, BECAUSE I'M NOT SURE WE HAD A PREMIER THAT WAS A BETTER FRIEND OF THE POLICE SERVICES ACROSS THE PROVINCE THAN THIS CURRENT PREMIER. HE HAS BEEN LOYAL TO THEM. THEY HAVE BEEN LOYAL TO HIM. WITHIN A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME AFTER THIS ANNOUNCEMENT, SERVICE AFTER SERVICE AFTER SERVICE, FIRST JUST A FEW AND THEN AN ONSLAUGHT, CAME OUT AND SAID WE'RE NOT GOING TO DO THIS. WHAT DOES THAT TELL YOU ABOUT THE STATE OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE COPS AND THE PREMIER RIGHT NOW?

The caption changes to "Jessica Smith Cross. QP Briefing."

Jessica is in her thirties, with straight brown hair in a short bob. She's wearing a burgundy blouse.

She says OBVIOUSLY THAT THE PREMIER AND THE GOVERNMENT DIDN'T CONSULT WITH THE POLICE SERVICES. PERHAPS BEYOND THE OPP, WHICH IS SOMETHING THEY NEEDED TO DO BEFORE IMPLEMENTING A CHANGE LIKE THAT. BUT THEY'RE ON THE ROPES. EVERYTHING IS HAPPENING AT ONCE. IT SEEMS THAT THAT DECISION WAS MADE WITHIN THE TWO-DAY CABINET MEETING. IF THEY HAD PLANNED AHEAD, CHECKED OUT IF THAT WOULD HAVE FLOWN WITH THE POLICE BEFORE IMPLEMENTING IT, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN A DIFFERENT SCENARIO.

The caption changes to "The Week in Review. @theagenda. Tvo.org."

Steve says ROBERT, WHAT ARE YOU HEARING ABOUT MORALE ON THE PC BACK BENCHES RIGHT NOW?

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."
Then, it changes again to "For more on this story visit: tvo.org/theagenda."

Robert says ON THE BACK BENCHES? ON THE BACK BENCHES IT'S NOT GREAT. I DON'T THINK IT'S GREAT ON THE FRONT BENCHES EITHER. CABINET IS ORNERY. RIGHT NOW THEY'RE SCRAMBLING TO PUT TOGETHER A PAID PROVINCIAL SICK LEAVE PROGRAM BECAUSE THEY'VE BEEN GETTING PASTED ON THAT. THEY HAVE A LITTLE BIT OF POLITICAL COVER BECAUSE THEY WERE SAYING MAYBE IF CHRYSTIA FREELAND ENRICHES THE PROGRAM IN THE FEDERAL BUDGET ON MONDAY, WE WON'T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING. SHE DIDN'T BECAUSE THERE ALREADY IS THE CANADIAN EMERGENCY SICK PAY BENEFIT, AND IT WASN'T ENHANCED. SO NOW IT'S UP TO LABOUR MINISTER MONTE MCNAUGHTON AND PREMIER DOUG FORD TO COME UP WITH A SOLUTION. IT MAY NOT BE THIS WEEK, IT MAY BE NEXT WEEK. THEY'VE BEEN GETTING HOUNDED ON THAT FRONT. THAT SHOULD HELP MORALE. YOU HAD CHRISTINA MITAS WRITING A LETTER TO HER COLLEAGUES THAT WAS LEAKED ON THE WEEKEND SAYING THIS IS RIDICULOUS THEY'RE CLOSING PLAYGROUNDS. EVERYONE WITH KIDS... I WAS WALKING AROUND PLAYGROUNDS ON SATURDAY BECAUSE I WAS CURIOUS, STEVE, TO SEE WHAT THE SCENE WAS LIKE IN DOWNTOWN TORONTO, AND PARENTS WERE WITH THEIR KIDS ON THE PLAYGROUNDS AND THAT'S BECAUSE AT A CERTAIN POINT... I MEAN, PARENTS REALIZE THEY NEED TO KEEP THEIR KIDS ACTIVE, OCCUPIED AND ACTIVE, OR THEY'RE GOING TO BE DRIVEN CRAZY THEMSELVES. AND I THINK THAT THAT WAS ONE OF THESE SITUATIONS WHERE, AS YOU SAID, YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE CONSENT OF THE GOVERNMENT, AND WHEN PEOPLE ARE TAKING THE LAW INTO THEIR OWN HANDS REALLY, OR IGNORING THE LAW, THAT'S A BIG PROBLEM. SO THERE IS A VERY BIG DANGER THAT PREMIER FORD HAS LOST THE ROOM, AND THAT... YOU KNOW, HE NEEDS TO REALLY WORK AT GETTING THE ROOM BACK.

Now music plays as an animated slate reads "The week in review."

Steve sits in the studio.
A caption on screen reads "Is child care key to Canada's recovery? The She-covery we need?

Steve says ARMINE, WE ARE CERTAINLY WELL AWARE OF HOW THIS PANDEMIC HAS AFFECTED WOMEN DISPROPORTIONATELY, GOING BACK OVER THE PAST 14 MONTHS OR SO. DO YOU THINK THIS IS THE KIND OF ANNOUNCEMENT THAT WILL ENABLE WOMEN TO GET BACK INTO THE LABOUR FORCE?

The caption changes to "Armine Yalnizyan. Atkinson Foundation. @ArmineYalnizyan."

Armine is in her fifties, with long wavy gray hair. She's wearing glasses and a gray turtleneck sweater.

She says IT IS THE ONLY POLICY AMENABLE ANNOUNCEMENT THAT ANY GOVERNMENT CAN MAKE. BECAUSE THERE ARE GOING TO BE LARGE PARTS OF THIS THAT ARE UNCONTROLLABLE BY ANY GOVERNMENT. HOW MANY BUSINESSES SHUT DOWN PERMANENTLY BECAUSE OF THE PANDEMIC IS UNKNOWABLE RIGHT NOW BECAUSE THE PANDEMIC IS NOT OVER. AND WE KNOW THAT LAST SPRING PARTICULARLY, WE HAD THE WORLD'S FIRST-EVER SHE-CESSION. AND IT HAPPENED GLOBALLY. BECAUSE THE COMPANIES THAT SHUT DOWN WERE MARGINAL, NON-ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES, IN PERSONAL SERVICES, IN RETAIL, IN HOSPITALITY... IN ALL THE THINGS THAT ARE NOT JUST ESSENTIAL TO EVERY DAY, BUT DISPROPORTIONATELY HIGHER LOW-PAID WORKERS WHO HAPPEN TO BE DISPROPORTIONATELY BE WOMEN WHO ARE RACIALIZED AND RECENT IMMIGRANTS AND MIGRANT WORKERS. SO THOSE JOBS MAY NOT BE COMING BACK. BUT THE THING THAT WILL MAXIMIZE POTENTIAL FOR THINGS TO GET BACK TO NORMAL IS TO MAKE SURE WE DON'T HAVE BUILT-IN POLICY CHOKE POINTS IN THE SYSTEM, SO WOMEN CAN ACCEPT WORK WHEN IT IS OFFERED TO THEM AND DON'T HAVE TO QUIT WORK BECAUSE THERE'S NO CHILD CARE AND THEY CAN'T KEEP GOING ON INDEFINITELY PROVIDING UNPAID CARE AT HOME AND DOING PAID WORK. SO THIS IS THE ONLY POLICY AMENABLE TOOL AVAILABLE TO ANY LEVEL OF GOVERNMENT TO ASSURE WE ARE MAXIMIZING OUR ECONOMIC POTENTIAL FOR RECOVERY.

Steve says LET'S DO SOME OF THE MATH HERE. ON AVERAGE, HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO PUT A SINGLE CHILD INTO CHILD CARE?

The caption changes to "Alana Powell. Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario. @AECEO."

Alana is in her thirties, with long straight brown hair. She's wearing glasses, a beige cardigan and a printed white blouse.

She says IT CAN DEPEND REALLY WHERE YOU ARE LOCATED IN THE PROVINCE, BUT MEDIAN FEES IN ONTARIO PER DAY RIGHT NOW, MEDIAN, INFANT SPACE, 66 dollars, TODDLER 54 dollars, PRE-SCHOOL 45 dollars, KINDERGARTEN-SCHOOL AGE 42 dollars. SO WHEN WE'RE LOOKING AT WHAT WE'RE PROMISED IN THIS BUDGET, 10 dollars A DAY IS A DRASTIC AND TRANSFORMATIVE REDUCTION IN THE COST ASSOCIATED FOR FAMILIES. SO THIS WILL MOVE ONTARIO FORWARD AND CANADA FORWARD IN A BIG WAY IN TERMS OF ECONOMIC JUSTICE AND GENDER EQUITY REALLY.

Steve says KATE, AS YOU LOOK AT THE LANDSCAPE IN ONTARIO RIGHT NOW, LET'S JUST FOCUS ON THIS PROVINCE, CAN YOU COMPARE, PLEASE, THE SUPPLY OF CHILD CARE AVAILABLE WITH THE DEMAND OF PARENTS WHO WANT IT?

The caption changes to "Kate Bezanson. Brock University."
Then, it changes again to "The Week in Review. @theagenda. Tvo.org."

Kate is in her fifties, with long straight blond hair. She's wearing a black blazer and a burgundy blouse.

She says SO PANDEMIC IS AN IMPORTANT AND INTERESTING TIME. WE'VE SEEN THAT THE CHILD CARE SECTOR HAS IN FACT BEEN PUT INTO CRISIS IN PANDEMIC. WE'VE SEEN CHILD CARE CENTRES CLOSE OVER THE LAST YEAR. IN ONTARIO ALONE, 138 CENTRES HAVE CLOSED OVER THE LAST YEAR IN PANDEMIC. CHILD CARE HAS NEVER BEEN MORE ESSENTIAL BUT ALSO HAS NEVER BEEN MORE FRAGILE. SO RIGHT NOW, THERE ARE ACTUALLY CENTRES IN ONTARIO THAT NO LONGER HAVE WAITING LISTS AND THAT'S AS A RESULT OF A NUMBER OF VARIABLES. ONE OF THOSE VARIABLES IS, AS WE'RE BACK... WE'RE BACK IN MARCH 2020 IF WE THINK ABOUT IT IN TERMS OF WHERE WE ARE IN ONTARIO IN THIS HEALTH CRISIS. YOU KNOW, WE HAVE SCHOOLS CLOSED. WE HAVE PARENTS BEING CALLED OR PUSHED OUT OF THE LABOUR MARKET AGAIN AS A RESULT OF THE SECTORS IN WHICH THEY WORK. SO WE'RE NOT IN A PERIOD YET OF RECOVERY OR MOVING TO THE OTHER SIDE. SO RIGHT NOW WE SEE THAT THERE ARE ACTUALLY FEWER ENROLMENTS IN CENTRES THAN THERE WERE PRE-PANDEMIC, AND THIS IS IN PART OWING TO THE COST. PARENTS ARE MAKING A CALCULATION, IF I HAVE A SCHOOL-AGE KID AT HOME, I'M NOT GOING TO KEEP MY OTHER CHILD IN CHILD CARE AND PAY, IN TORONTO, FOR EXAMPLE, 1800 dollars A MONTH. BUT IT'S ALSO OWING TO THE KIND OF CALCULATION THAT PARENTS ARE DOING AROUND VECTORS OF TRANSMISSION AND LEVEL OF EXPOSURE OF MEMBERS OF THEIR HOUSEHOLDS. SO THERE IS, OUTSIDE OF PANDEMIC, A HUGE DEMAND. WE NOW ARE GOING TO COME OUT ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THIS WITH REDUCED SUPPLY AND A PRECARIOUS... A MORE PRECARIOUS SECTOR.

The caption changes to "For more on this story visit: tvo.org/theagenda."

Kate continues SO THIS INVESTMENT RIGHT NOW IS ESSENTIAL TO GETTING US TO THE OTHER SIDE, TO JUST RETURNING US TO WHOLE, WHERE WE WERE BEFORE THE PANDEMIC. AND WHERE WE WERE BEFORE THE PANDEMIC WAS NOT A LOT OF SPOTS FOR THE NUMBER OF KIDS WHO NEEDED THEM.

Now music plays as an animated slate reads "The week in review."

Steve sits in the studio.
A caption on screen reads "A pandemic upending women's lives. Life at work."

Steve says HOW WAS BUSINESS AT THE WORKAROUND BEFORE THE PANDEMIC KICKED IN?

The caption changes to "Amanda Munday. The Workaround."

Amanda is in her thirties, with long brown hair. She's wearing glasses and a khaki shirt.

She says WE OPENED IN THE FALL OF 2018, AND WE CLOSED IN MARCH 2020. SO WE WERE OPEN ONLY ABOUT 18 MONTHS. AND I HAD SERVED 846 FAMILIES, 220-PLUS UNIQUE CHILDREN. IT WAS A PROFITABLE, FLEX, DAYTIME CHILD CARE AND CO-WORKING BUSINESS, ONE I WAS PLANNING ON OPENING NEW LOCATIONS IN 2020, ACTUALLY.

Steve says HMM. WHAT PROSPECTS DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE FOR GETTING THE BUSINESS OPEN AND WHEN?

The caption changes to "Amanda Munday, @amandabella."

Amanda says YOU KNOW, IT'S REALLY HARD, IN ONTARIO AND IN TORONTO IN PARTICULAR RIGHT NOW. I'M IN AN INDOOR SHARED SPACE WITH SHARED WASHER AND SHARED KITCHEN FACILITIES, AND AT THE SAME TIME DAY CARE, WHICH IS SO CRITICALLY IMPORTANT FOR WORKING PARENTS. AND SO... I'M OPTIMISTIC BY THE FEDERAL BUDGET CHILD CARE FUNDING. THAT GIVES ME SOME HOPE THAT THE BUSINESS HAS SOME REALLY AMAZING GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES IN THE FUTURE. IN THE SHORT TERM, I THINK WE'RE GOING TO BE CLOSED FOR A LITTLE WHILE STILL. I ECHO KALLISHA. THE NUMBER OF BLEACHING WE DID AND DISINFECTING AND CLEANING AND SPRAYING DOWN DOOR HANDLES. I HAVE 13,000 SQUARE FEET AND I LAID ALL MY STAFF OFF. IT WAS ME WHO WAS DOING ALL OF THAT. YOU KNOW, I JUST WANT TO GET BACK TO SERVING AS MANY FAMILIES AS SOON AS WE CAN.

Steve says WE HOPE YOU GET THAT CHANCE. LAUREN, THAT'S A WOMAN-OWNED BUSINESS THAT WE'VE JUST HEARD FROM THERE. HOW DID THE PANDEMIC, BROADLY SPEAKING, AFFECT FEMALE-OWNED BUSINESSES OVERALL?

The caption changes to "Lauren McKeon. Author, 'Women of the pandemic.'"

Lauren is in her thirties, with long wavy brown hair. She's wearing a black jacket.

She says WELL, I THINK WE'RE SEEING A TREND HERE, AND THAT IS THAT WOMEN HAVE SUFFERED MORE, AND THAT CERTAINLY HAS BEEN THE CASE FOR WOMEN-OWNED BUSINESSES. THEY'VE FACED HIGHER CHALLENGES, YOU KNOW, PARTLY BECAUSE OF THE SECTORS THAT WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS ARE MORE LIKELY TO BUILD A BUSINESS IN, WHICH IS HOSPITALITY, CARE, YOU KNOW, THINGS THAT... BUSINESSES THAT HAVE BORNE THE BRUNT OF THE CLOSURES. SO I THINK, YOU KNOW, IT'S ACROSS THE BOARD WE'RE SEEING NOT ONLY WOMEN EMPLOYEES BUT CERTAINLY WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS LOSE OUT.

The caption changes to "The Week in Review. @theagenda. Tvo.org."

Steve says LAUREN, FOLLOW UP WITH THIS, IF YOU WOULD, BECAUSE I KNOW IT CANNOT HAVE ESCAPED THE ATTENTION OF ANY OF THE PEOPLE ON THIS PROGRAM TONIGHT THAT CHRYSTIA FREELAND, THE FINANCE MINISTER, ANNOUNCED YESTERDAY A MULTI-YEAR, MULTI- BILLION-dollar CHILD CARE PROGRAM WITH THE IDEA BEING EVENTUALLY TO GET TO A 10 dollars A DAY PER CHILD PROGRAM. IMAGINE THAT PROGRAM IN PLACE, LAUREN. WHAT KIND OF A GAME-CHANGER IS IT?

The caption changes to "Trying to balance it all."

Lauren says I THINK IT'S A HUGE GAME-CHANGER, OR IT HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BE A HUGE GAME-CHANGER. AFFORDABLE CHILD CARE IS SOMETHING THAT WOMEN HAVE BEEN LOBBYING FOR FOR DECADES, YOU KNOW. AS I'VE SAID BEFORE, THE PANDEMIC HASN'T CREATED THESE PROBLEMS, BUT IT HAS EXPOSED THEM, AND IT'S MADE THEM UNDENIABLE. AND I THINK IT'S VERY UNDENIABLE NOW THAT WE NEED AFFORDABLE CHILD CARE. AT THE SAME TIME, WOMEN HAVE TO HAVE JOBS TO RETURN TO AND WE HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT AS WELL. YOU KNOW, CHILD CARE IS ONLY ONE PIECE OF THE PUZZLE TO HELP WOMEN TO GET THEM BACK TO WORK.

Steve says INDEED. BIRGIT, HOW MUCH OF A CHILD HAS CHILD CARE BEEN FOR YOU?

The caption changes to "Birgit Umaigba. I.C.U. Nurse."

Birgit is in her thirties, with straight black hair. She's wearing a purple blazer and a black headscarf.

She says OH. A LOT. I'VE HAD TO USE BABYSITTERS AS OPPOSED TO REGISTERING MY DAUGHTER IN A CHILD CARE CENTRE BECAUSE I COULDN'T AFFORD IT, RIGHT? AND I'VE LOST INCOME A LOT OF TIMES BECAUSE WHEN MY BABYSITTER CALLED IN SICK, I HAVE TO STAY HOME WITH MY DAUGHTER. SO, YEAH, IT'S AN ONGOING ISSUE FOR ME AND FOR MANY OF US ON THE FRONT LINES. WE HAVE BEEN AFFECTED BY THIS.

Steve says RIGHT. I THINK YOU MENTIONED EARLIER YOU'RE DOWN TO TWO SHIFTS A WEEK NOW BECAUSE OF THE WHOLE SITUATION YOU'RE IN NOW. CAN YOU MAKE ENDS MEET ON TWO SHIFTS A WEEK?

Birgit says I CAN BARELY SURVIVE. I CAN BARELY JUST PAY MY BILLS AND THAT'S ABOUT IT.

Steve says HMM. SO HOW ARE YOU DOING IT?

Birgit says I DON'T KNOW. TWO SHIFTS A WEEK. CREDIT CARDS. RIGHT? IT'S A CYCLE.

Steve says SO YOU ARE TAKING ON ADDITIONAL DEBT RIGHT NOW.

Birgit says ABSOLUTELY.

Steve says AND WHEN THE BABYSITTERS COME IN, DIFFERENT BABYSITTERS DEALING WITH YOUR CHILDREN, I PRESUME YOU FIND THAT A LESS VALUABLE, LESS EFFECTIVE OPTION THAN IF THEY HAD QUALITY, CONSISTENT DAILY CHILD CARE?

Birgit says OF COURSE. DEFINITELY. THE CHILD WANTS CONSISTENCY TOO. THEY NEED IT.

Steve says FOR SURE. AMANDA, WITH WOMEN OFTEN TAKING ON UNEVEN AMOUNTS OF CHILD CARE AND HOUSEWORK, HOW DID THE PANDEMIC IN YOUR VIEW AFFECT ALL OF THAT?

The caption changes to "For more on this story visit: tvo.org/theagenda."

Amanda says YOU KNOW, WE NEED TO RECOGNIZE THAT WORK HAS CHANGED, AND WITHOUT CHILD CARE, WE CANNOT GET WOMEN BACK TO THE WORKFORCE. LOOK AT THE WOMEN ON THIS PANEL. FULL-TIME MONDAY TO FRIDAY CENTRE-BASED CARE IS NOT GOING TO SERVE THE SATURDAY NIGHT GROCERY STORE WORKER, THE ICU NURSES WHO NEED OVERNIGHT CARE, THE ENTREPRENEURS WHO I SERVE WHO MIGHT HAVE A FREELANCE GRAPHIC DESIGN CONTRACT FOR A FEW MONTHS BUT CAN'T POSSIBLY COMMIT TO A FULL YEAR. I THINK WHAT I'M HOPEFUL ABOUT WITH THE CHILD CARE ANNOUNCEMENT THAT WE RECOGNIZE THAT WE NEED TO FUND CHILD CARE. THE NEXT STEP IS TO RECOGNIZE THAT THE TYPES OF CHILD CARE THAT CANADIANS NEED IS FAR MORE DIVERSE THAN WHAT'S AVAILABLE RIGHT NOW.

Now music plays as an animated slate reads "The week in review."

Steve sits in the studio.
A caption on screen reads "Being black in Ontario politics. Why get into politics?"

Steve says NOW, WE'RE JUST ACTUALLY A FEW DAYS PAST THE ACTUAL SECOND ANNIVERSARY OF THE CREATION OF THE BLACK CAUCUS BY THE NEW DEMOCRATS AT QUEEN'S PARK. AND LAURA MAE, LET ME GET YOU BACK IN ON THIS. GIVE US SOME BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF WHY YOU THOUGHT THERE WOULD BE VALUE IN THE CREATION OF A SO-CALLED BLACK CAUCUS IN THE NDP PARTY AT QUEEN'S PARK? WHAT DID YOU HOPE IT COULD ACHIEVE?

The caption changes to "Laura Mae Lindo. NDP Black Caucus."

Laura is in her thirties, with black hair in an updo. She's wearing a colourful printed headscarf, a black shirt and a beaded necklace.

She says SO I THINK I HAVE TO ANSWER THAT AND TAKE IT A STEP BACK BECAUSE IT WASN'T ACTUALLY THE NDP THAT DECIDED TO FORM THE BLACK CAUCUS. IT WAS THAT WE HAD HAD A COMMUNITY MEETING WITH BLACK LEADERS, ZANANA AKANDE WAS ACTUALLY WITH US ON THAT DAY, AND A NUMBER OF PEOPLE AT THAT TABLE WERE SHOCKED THAT THERE WERE THAT MANY BLACK PEOPLE IN ONE PARTY AT THAT ONE TIME. AND IN THAT MOMENT, A NUMBER OF PEOPLE KEPT SAYING, WOW, IT WOULD BE KIND OF NEAT IF THERE WAS A BLACK CAUCUS. WOW, IT WOULD BE REALLY INTERESTING TO FIGURE OUT, HOW COULD YOU USE THIS MOMENT IN HISTORY TO DO SOMETHING TO ADVANCE THE NEEDS AND SUPPORTS AND ADVOCACY FOR BLACK COMMUNITIES. AND I ACTUALLY REMEMBER ZANANA AT THE VERY END SORT OF WHISPERING IN MY EAR, IT WOULD BE KIND OF COOL TO HAVE A BLACK CAUCUS, WOULDN'T IT?
[LAUGHTER]
AND SO WE BROUGHT ALL OF THE INFORMATION BACK TO THE LEADER OF THE OFFICIAL OPPOSITION, TO ANDREA HORWATH, AND I REMEMBER ANDREA PULLING ME ASIDE AT ONE POINT, BEFORE THE ACTUAL DECISION WAS MADE, AND SHE SAID TO ME: OVER THE YEARS I'VE DONE A LOT OF WORK WITH BLACK COMMUNITIES. THERE'S ALWAYS SORT OF STEPS AND IDEAS THAT WE HAVE ON WAYS TO STRUCTURE SUPPORTS FOR THEM AND RARELY DO THEY WORK IN MAKING REAL CHANGE. SO I DON'T WANT TO GO THIS STEP UNLESS THERE'S A COMMITMENT THAT WE'RE ACTUALLY GOING TO DO THE WORK. AND SO FOR ME, THAT BECAME A MOMENT WHERE I THOUGHT, OKAY, THE BLACK CAUCUS CAN ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING REAL, THEN I TOO WOULD LIKE TO BE PART OF THE FORMATION OF THE BLACK CAUCUS.

The caption changes to "The Week in Review. @theagenda. Tvo.org."

Steve says LET ME FIND OUT... LET ME FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THAT FROM ZANANA AKANDE. WHAT TANGIBLE THINGS DID YOU THINK THE CREATION OF A BLACK CAUCUS AT QUEEN'S PARK COULD ACTUALLY ACHIEVE?

The caption changes to "Zanana Akande. Former MPP."

Zanana is in her sixties, with short-cropped gray hair. She's wearing rounded glasses and a black shirt.

She says I THOUGHT THAT IT WOULD BE A COLLECTIVE VOICE SPEAKING TO EFFECT THE CHANGES THAT ARE NECESSARY FOR OUR COMMUNITIES. I REMEMBER WAY BACK WHEN I WAS IN GOVERNMENT AND I HAD TO... I WAS DETERMINED TO GET EMPLOYMENT EQUITY PASSED. I HAD TO GO AND SOLICIT AMONG THOSE WITHIN MY PARTY, NONE OF WHOM WERE BLACK, TO GET SUPPORT OF NINE PEOPLE TO FOCUS OUR WHOLE ATTENTION ON GETTING THE CAUCUS TO SUPPORT US IN BRINGING THAT TO THE TABLE. IT WAS NOT EASY. AND BECAUSE I WAS ONE VOICE... ACTUALLY TWO, BECAUSE GARY MARKOWSKI WAS THERE TOO, SPEAKING TO ENCOURAGE THE OTHERS EVEN THOUGH WE WERE A MAJORITY AT THAT TIME. AND I THOUGHT HOW MUCH EASIER THAT WOULD BE TO HAVE A GROUP, A BLACK CAUCUS, TO HELP TO MOVE THE WHOLE AGENDA ALONG. AND ALSO TO LOOK AT EACH ISSUE FROM OUR POINT OF VIEW TO SEE IN FACT IF WE WERE OMITTED ALMOST WITHOUT HAVING BEEN CONSIDERED. THAT WOULD BE EXTREMELY IMPORTANT, AND I'M SURE THEY'LL DO IT.

Steve says GARY MARKOWSKI, IF I RECALL WAS THE FIRST-EVER DEAF MPP IN THE ONTARIO LEGISLATURE AND HAD SOMEBODY ON THE FLOOR WITH HIM WHO WOULD SIGN HIS QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS DURING QUESTION PERIOD. ALVIN CURLING, I WOULD LIKE YOUR VIEW ON THE CREATION OF THIS BLACK CAUCUS AND WHETHER YOU THINK IT'S A GOOD IDEA.

The caption changes to "Alvin Curling. Former MPP."

Alvin is in his late seventies, with short curly white hair and a trimmed mustache. He's wearing a printed jacket and a black shirt.

He says WELL, LET'S SAY THIS. LET ME TAKE SOME OF THE GLORY AWAY FROM LAURA MAE. ZANANA AKANDE WAS THERE. WE HAD A BLACK CAUCUS WITH ALVIN CURLING AND ZANANA AKANDE. ZANANA REMEMBERS PUTTING HER BILLS THROUGH, HOW STRATEGIC IT WAS. AND I WAS EVEN THE CRITIC. BUT I WAS ASKED TO RESPOND TO SOME OF THE ISSUES OF THE DAY AND RATHER SKILLFUL. LET ME COMMEND ZANANA AKANDE FOR THIS BECAUSE I WANTED TO BE FORCEFUL IN A POLITICAL WAY. IT WASN'T WORKING. IT WAS A SOCIAL CONSCIOUS MOVE WE HAD TO MAKE. SO WHEN THIS WAS FORMED, I SAID, WELL, HERE WE GO. IT DOESN'T MATTER. JUST LIKE YOU ASKED THE QUESTION BEFORE. AS LONG AS WE ARE ABLE TO FOCUS ON THE ISSUE, IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT PARTY IT WAS. SO I WAS DELIGHTED TO HEAR THAT.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Steve says ALL RIGHT. LET ME FOLLOW UP WITH JILL ANDREW ON THAT. THE IDEA OF CREATING THE BLACK CAUCUS, WE HAVE SOME UNDERSTANDING OF THAT NOW. WHEN THE RUBBER HIT THE ROAD, WHAT WAS IT ABLE TO ACHIEVE OVER THE PAST TWO YEARS?

The caption changes to "Jill Andrew. NDP Black Caucus. @Jillslastword."

Jill is in her thirties, with short-cropped black hair. She's wearing a black suit and a white shirt.

She says THANK YOU, STEVE. YOU KNOW, I CERTAINLY THINK THAT WE HAVE WORKED HARD TO CONTINUE BUILDING TRUST IN BLACK COMMUNITIES ACROSS ONTARIO AND THAT WE HAVE DONE THAT THROUGH SEVERAL CONSULTATIONS ON KEY ISSUES IMPACTING OUR COMMUNITY, EVERYTHING FROM ARTS AND CULTURE TO EDUCATION TO JOBS AND EMPLOYMENT TO THE JUSTICE SYSTEM, QUOTE, UNQUOTE, TO THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM, TO HOUSING. WE HAVE SPOKEN, YOU KNOW, WITH BLACK ONTARIANS TO GET THEIR VOICE AND TO HEAR THEIR VOICE AND TO HAVE THAT CONSIDERED IN EVERY PIECE OF LEGISLATION THAT WE HAVE CERTAINLY, AS NDP, PUT FORTH.

The caption changes to "For more on this story visit: tvo.org/theagenda."

Jill continues SOMETHING ELSE THAT WE ACHIEVED THAT IS VERY, VERY NEAR AND DEAR TO MY HEART IS WE HAVE BROUGHT HUNDREDS OF BLACK YOUTH, OF RACIALIZED YOUTH, TO QUEEN'S PARK TO LITERALLY WALK IN THAT BUILDING AND TO TAKE STOCK OF WHO'S ON THE WALLS AND WHO IS NOT ON THE WALLS, WHO IS IN THE SEATS AND WHO IS NOT IN THE SEATS, SO THEY CAN RECOGNIZE THAT QUEEN'S PARK IS THEIR HOUSE AND THAT THEY TOO CAN ONE DAY BE ELECTED OFFICIALS AND CREATE CHANGE IN THEIR COMMUNITY.

The clips end, and Nam appears.

She says THAT'S JUST SOME OF WHAT WE COVERED THIS WEEK ON THE AGENDA. FOR MORE, INCLUDING THE FULL CONVERSATIONS, YOU CAN VISIT OUR WEBSITE, TVO.ORG, OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL AT YOUTUBE.COM/THEAGENDA OR OUR TWITTER FEED: TWITTER.COM/THEAGENDA.

Watch: Crisis at Queen's Park and Other Top Stories