OTTAWA AND TORONTO — The Official Opposition NDP believes getting kids back in school should be Ontario’s top priority — and is asking why Doug Ford has chosen not to release a plan or made investments to make schools safe for September.
“Kids are really struggling with their mental and emotional health. They so desperately need to get back to school, and back to extracurricular activities — it should be the top priority for Ontario. So where’s the plan?” said NDP Education critic Marit Stiles. “Parents, teachers, education workers and kids need to know: what’s going to happen in schools in September, and what is Ontario doing to make it safe?”
Stiles joined the NDP’s Ottawa team on Tuesday to push for a plan, along with investments and action. MPP Joel Harden (Ottawa Centre) and candidate Chandra Pasma (Ottawa West—Nepean) said their communities are frustrated and worried by the lack of information and action on a Safe September strategy.
“Doug Ford should be working around the clock on ventilation upgrades, and hiring extra mental health professionals, teachers and education workers so our kids have small, safe classes with lots of caring adults around them. Instead he’s cutting $800 million from the education budget,” said Pasma.
“Parents in our community are worried about Ford’s wait-and-see approach,” said Harden. “We could be using this summer to proactively reach out to parents to provide information, and help them make the decision and the arrangements to vaccinate their kids. The first day of school is coming fast — we don’t have time to waste.”
The NDP wants a provincial program to proactively reach out to families about vaccinating children over 12, to provide them with information to help them make the decision, and the appointment, to get kids vaccinated before mid-August. Horwath and the NDP are also fighting for ventilation upgrades, 14 paid sick and family care days so parents can keep sick kids home from school, small class sizes and more mental health professionals in schools to help kids recover from the longest school shutdowns in Canada.