January 20th, 2022

Dr. Hirji right to protect kids, in-person learning: Niagara NDP MPPs

NIAGARA – NDP MPPs Jennie Stevens (St. Catharines), Jeff Burch (Niagara Centre) and Wayne Gates (Niagara Falls), and NDP candidate for Niagara West Dave Augustyn released the following statement in response to a letter from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kieran Moore to Niagara’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mustafa Hirji:

“Families are relieved that their children have headed back to school, and they want to keep schools open this time. The last thing any parent wants is their child getting sick, or for schools to close again — that puts pressure on the whole family.

Dr. Mustafa Hirji’s extra precautions come in the absence of real leadership from Premier Doug Ford. Dr. Hirji should be lauded for his initiative, not attacked by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Moore’s letter has Ford’s fingerprints all over it. Dr. Hirji was right to take extra measures and Ford should not be trying to make schools in Niagara less safe.

The goal now should be to keep schools open right through to the end of the school year. Ford has refused to put in place the safety measures that parents, education workers and experts have asked for — like smaller class sizes, air quality testing and vaccine mandates. Families in Niagara deserve nothing less, and we believe the Niagara region is doing the right thing by going above and beyond to keep schools safe, and to keep schools open. We will keep fighting to make schools safer so they can stay open.”


The Ontario NDP have been calling for stronger COVID safety measures in schools including:

  • A vaccine blitz for students with in-school vaccine clinics with permission from parents, and an outreach campaign including culturally-relevant outreach
  • Mandatory vaccination for all teachers and education workers
  • Putting the COVID vaccine on the student immunization list
  • Free rapid tests for all students, teachers and education staff
  • Access to PCR tests again
  • Reduced class sizes and school busloads
  • Improved ventilation in all schools and regular on-site air quality testing
  • Free N95 masks for all teachers and education workers
  • Support for teachers and staff to help address critical learning gaps caused by previous shutdowns