August 25th, 2021

Horwath calls on Ford to prepare now to vaccinate kids under 12

BURLINGTON —Andrea Horwath, leader of the Official Opposition New Democrats, wants Doug Ford to invest now in a plan to rush the COVID-19 vaccine to students under 12 as soon as Health Canada approves the shot for kids.

“As soon as Health Canada gives us the green light, we can get every eligible child their first dose within just a few days — if we’re ready to go,” said Horwath. “Doug Ford needs to invest now in a rock-solid plan to reach out to every family proactively in advance, and be ready to deploy a vaccine clinic to every single school, immediately.”

Horwath said Ontario families shouldn’t have to hunt for a location and struggle to book a shot this time — not when the school year is on the line, and kids are desperate for it to go ahead safely, without disruption. Horwath is also calling for the COVID-19 vaccine to be added to the existing list of student immunizations, and for the vaccine to be mandatory for teachers and education workers.

“Families are at the end of their rope with at-home learning, kids are struggling with their mental health and wellbeing, and teachers and education workers are burnt out. We have to do everything we can to prioritize education, and give people hope that the disruptions are over,” said Horwath.

Horwath was in Burlington Wednesday for a conversation with local parent Vanessa Slee about concerns looking ahead to the fast-approaching school year and what the government can do to address them.

The Ontario NDP has been calling for a Safe September plan for school reopening that also includes capped class sizes, more mental health, educational assistants and counselling supports for students; a minimum and enforced standard for ventilation; and paid sick days and family care days for everyone — all necessary to lower the risk of outbreaks and more disruption.

Ford’s penny-pinching back-to-school plan doesn’t do any of those things. In fact, Ford is cutting $800 million from education this year. That’s according to Ford’s own budget and verified by Ontario’s independent Financial Accountability Officer.


Horwath’s Safe September plan includes:

  • Smaller class sizes
  • Improved ventilation with standards
  • Mental health supports
  • Paid sick days and family care days for everyone
  • A proactive strategy to reach out to families about vaccines, and a ready plan to get the vaccine into schools for children under 12 as soon as Health Canada approves. Horwath is also calling for all teachers and education workers to be vaccinated, and for the COVID-19 vaccine to be added to the existing vaccines list for students.


Vanessa Slee, parent of two elementary school-aged children and Catholic secondary teacher in Halton
“I want my children back in school this fall, as the benefits of in-person learning are invaluable. However, the reopening must be done safely for it to be sustainable. The government's back to school plan is disappointing and incomplete. They need to invest in what is needed to ensure a safe return to school like smaller class sizes, improved ventilation, robust testing and tracing and improved vaccination education and accessibility.”