NDP calls on Ford to cancel $800 million cut, invest in small classes, ventilation and vaccines
HANNON — Official Opposition NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is calling on Doug Ford’s to cancel his $800 million cut to schools, and instead invest in education so students, staff and families can return to small, safe, well-ventilated classrooms in the fall.
“Families are burnt out and frayed from more than a year of disruptions and uncertainty, and our kids are struggling with poor mental health and wellbeing. Kids need to go back to classrooms in September — and the government has the power to make it safe,” said Horwath.
Doug Ford was cutting education before the pandemic, and his 2021 budget cuts $800 million from classrooms. That will return class sizes to crowded pre-pandemic levels and higher, and the teacher and education worker layoffs and course cuts Ford began before the pandemic will resume.
Horwath and NDP Education critic Marit Stiles were in Hannon Friday, where at Hamilton Wentworth District Schools alone, Ford’s pre pandemic cuts led to the cancellation of 173 high school course offerings. The board was forced to use its reserve funds to lower class sizes during the pandemic — so Ford’s newest cuts could hike class sizes, and lead to more teacher and education worker cuts.
“Our kids don’t need more big cuts and bad choices — they deserve better. They deserve small class sizes, and the chance to get one-on-one help when they need it. They need safe, well-ventilated classrooms. And they need two vaccine doses before September,” said Horwath.
The previous Liberal government drove up class sizes, and racked up $15.8 billion in backlogged school repairs, leaving some classrooms without safe ventilation. Stiles said parents, kids and educators deserve certainty that investments will be made in time for September.
“Doug Ford doesn’t believe in spending on education, so he’s doubling down on schemes like remote learning, hybrid learning and frustrating quadmesters — instead of just investing to make schools safe for regular in-person learning,” said Stiles.
“It’s throwing more uncertainty into families’ lives. Instead, let’s cancel the cuts and invest to make schools safe for September.”
The NDP wants Ford’s $800 million cut cancelled, and a Safe Schools for September plan fully funded and announced immediately. That plan should include:
- A classroom cap of 15
- Upgrades to ventilation systems to meet the latest standards and science on airborne transmission of COVID
- Offering two-doses of the COVID vaccine to every teacher, education worker and student over 12
- More in-class supports for kids with special needs or learning challenges
- In-school mental health and wellness supports
“As a parent to two elementary school aged children, I hope that this September children can return to schools that are safe with smaller class sizes as well as plenty of educational and emotional support. This current school year has been one filled with uncertainty. One that has left children, teachers and parents on a roller coaster scrambling to make it through the year. Our children deserve better.”