Carolyn Bennett
Hon. Carolyn Bennett
Member of Parliament for Toronto—St. Paul's
Community Updates | January 17, 2022
January 17, 2022

January 17 is Blue Monday 2022. 
Apparently in 2005, a travel company designated the third Monday of January as the gloomiest day of the year -  the days being short, the weather cold, and the bills from the holidays arriving. At this time of year, some Canadians struggle with Seasonal Affective disorder for which they can receive specific help. For the past two years, we have also had to deal with the stress of the pandemic; the restrictions and the need to work hard to keep everyone safe and healthy. We have lost friends and loved ones. Just as we thought we could see the light at the end of the tunnel, Omicron delivered yet another blow. Schools and gyms were shut, our favourite restaurants were closed to us being able to come inside and enjoy a meal together. We have had enough; we want this to be over. 
This Blue Monday, we are getting great advice from ParticipACTION and the Canadian Mental Health Association: “Move for your Mood.” They want us to know that physical activity has a really positive effect on our mental health. Research confirms that getting active can help us cope with stress, reduce anxiety and depression, and increase self-esteem. We can do this! Click below for a video from me.

Throughout the pandemic, we have learned how important it has been to get outside and enjoy our parks, ravines and the belt line. Some seniors with mobility issues have been inspired to learn how to exercise safely on their chairs with neat inexpensive resistance bands. Friends have been putting on the music and are dancing up a storm in the privacy of their homes!   
We have also had great advice from my friend Senator Stan Kutcher – Choosing Kindness is good for you. In his therapeutic interview with CBC’s Jeff Douglas he talks about the research into why if feels good to be kind to others.

“Kindness is a bit like throwing a rock in a millpond. It spreads." "Scientific studies demonstrate that when you are kind to another person, your brain’s pleasure and reward centres light up as if you were the recipient of the good deed, not the giver. It’s known as the helper’s high. Kindness actually makes us feel better, it makes us want to do it again. And it makes us calmer.” 

I am proud that on Friday, we were able to launch the PocketWell App which is complementary to the Wellness Together platform launched at the beginning of the Covid-19 in anticipation of the increased need for supports for mental health issues and increased substance use and the lack of access to services due to the pandemic disruptions. In April 2020, with the support of the Government of Canada, a consortium of leaders in digital mental health and substance use support, including Stepped Care Solutions, Kids Help Phone, and Homewood Health, came together to launch Wellness Together, an online portal that provides free, 24/7 access to mental health and substance use support.   

The response has been incredible. Each week an average of 20,000-30,000 people in Canada turn to Wellness Together Canada for mental health and substance use support; to date, close to two million Canadians have accessed the site.  
Please have a look and let me know what you think. You can download PocketWell free from Apple App Store or the Google Play Store, or access WTC online at I’ve really enjoyed the Mindwell Take 5 teachings from the App! 
I’ve also been inspired by Dr. David Goldbloom’s book: We Can Do Better – Urgent Innovations to Improve Mental Health Access and Care. We need to build upon the innovations Dr. Goldbloom describes that exist across Canada to ensure that adequate supports for mental health and substance use are part of the new normal. 
I hope that getting outside and supporting our local businesses and restaurants will also be part of the new normal. Our economy remains strong. Canada has shown its resilience. We still need to look out for those who are struggling; we are in this together and we will get through this together.  
We can all decide to make Blue Monday a little less blue by getting some exercise and making a point of showing some kindness to one another. 
Only two more months until spring!!!!  



COVID-19 Related News

Supports for Businesses & Workers

While many Canadians have returned to work and Canada has surpassed the government’s target of creating a million jobs, there is still more work to do, especially in the face of the current wave of COVID-19. Many businesses, like restaurants, hospitality, and tourism-dependent businesses and the people that work for them are often the cornerstone of our communities. These businesses, and the workers and communities who rely on them, have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic and will be critical to our recovery and long-term growth. 
To continue to support these businesses, workers and communities new measures include:

  • Introducing and expanding the Local Lockdown Program to include employers that face capacity-limiting restrictions of 50% or more and reducing the revenue decline threshold requirement to 25%;
  • Introducing and expanding the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit to ensure more regions would be made eligible as they make the difficult choices to reduce capacity to help reduce the spread of the virus;
  • Extending the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit, the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, and the Canada Recovery Hiring Program to May 7, 2022;
  • Introducing the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program and the Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program to provide supports to businesses that have faced deep losses due to the pandemic.

Rapid Tests
To date, Canada has delivered 120 million rapid tests and billions of pieces of PPE to keep health care and frontline workers safe. There will be an additional 140 million rapid tests arriving this month. 



Canada has developed one of the most diversified vaccine portfolios in the world. To date, over 80 million doses have been delivered to the provinces and territories and as a result, over 80% of eligible Canadians have at least two doses, one of the highest vaccination rates in the world. 


The government has ensured that the provinces and territories have enough booster shots for all eligible Canadians and expanded eligibility for key support programs to ensure Canadians are supported and workers and businesses get the help they need to sustain them through new and necessary public health restrictions. For more details on vaccines, click here.  

Federal Updates

Ban on Conversion Therapy 

Bill C-4, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (conversion therapy) was passed by unanimous consent in both the House and Senate before the new year. No Canadian should be subjected to torture under the false pretense that a person's sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression can and should be altered according to a narrow belief of what is considered "natural" or "normal". 

The new Criminal Code violations become enacted on January 7th. As of January 7th, it will be a crime punishable by up to five years in prison to cause another person to undergo conversion therapy, and if someone is found to be promoting, advertising, or profiting from providing the practice, they can face up to two years in prison. 

The government remains committed to building a society where every LGBTQ2+ Canadian has equal rights and opportunities. Although progress has been made, there is still so much work left to be done to protect gender-diverse communities. We encourage LGBTQ2+ organizations big and small to reach out anytime to us with their ideas for moving Canada forward. 

Click here for the clickable image!

Long Term Reform

This month, the government along with Indigenous partners announced Agreements-in-Principal on compensation and long-term reform of First national child and family services and Jordan’s Principal. 

These agreements will chart a path for long-term reform of the First Nations Child and Family Services program and Jordan's Principle, reducing the number of First Nations children in care, keeping children connected to their families, communities and cultures and ensuring that First Nations children have access to the services they need when they need them. For more information, click here

Funding Announcements

Women Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Fund

Last week the government has announced a new call for applications for the Women Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Fund. This $25 million is allocated to support new projects that are focused on responding to systemic barriers and gaps for diverse, intersectional and/or under-served women. For more information including eligibility of this fund, please visit here

New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) 2020 Transformation Competition Results

Last week, the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Industry announced support for more than 5,500 researchers across Canada. This major science and research investment of over $550 million will strengthen Canada’s research enterprise impart real and lasting change for Canadians and the world.

These innovators are discovering new approaches to the world’s toughest challenges in the fields of environment, reconciliation, health and more! Learn more about these amazing projects and the researchers behind them by visiting here. One of the major projects is here in Toronto!


As the situation is changing daily, please check the following websites for daily updates in Toronto and across Canada:

In Our Community

Local businesses continue to need our support! Find out what stores are open, or what restaurants are offering takeout and delivery. The following BIAs have put together lists of businesses that are still open, albeit doing things a bit differently. Let's do what we can to support our local businesses:

Mental Health Support

Wellness Together Canada

COVID-19 has changed the daily lives of people around the world. During these difficult times, it is critical that Canadians be able to obtain credible information and access services to support their mental health and wellbeing. That's why the government launched a portal dedicated to mental wellness: Wellness Together Canada.


This portal will connect Canadians to peer support workers, social workers, psychologists and other professionals for confidential chat sessions or phone calls, and will make it easier to find credible information and help address mental health and substance use issues.


Kids Help Phone

Although we’re far apart physically, our young people must feel help is close.  Kids Help Phone is a remote mental health service that connects youth with professional counselling, information and referrals across Canada without any face-to-face contact. Contact Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868, by texting 686868, or by going online to

Main office - Toronto
40 Holly Street, Suite 103
Toronto, Ontario
M4S 3C3


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Hill Office
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6


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