April 23rd, 2020

Misleading government announcement leaves kids, teachers and parents disappointed and without iPads

Doug Ford and Stephen Lecce gave teachers, students and families the impression that at least 21,000 new iPads were on the way to give families in need access to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. The truth is that school boards won’t get a single extra device.

“We’ve heard from boards all over the province that are inundated with calls from parents looking for the iPad they believed the government was sending their child,” said NDP Education critic Marit Stiles. “But the sad truth is that Mr. Ford and Mr. Lecce were just taking credit for devices already owned and distributed by school boards.

“Mr. Ford’s words don’t match his actions, and as a result, thousands of kids — especially kids from lower-income households — are being let down. This really adds to the inequity. We need solutions for kids in communities with less resources, and those in remote and rural areas.”

On April 17, a government press release announced “iPad devices are being purchased and distributed by Ontario school boards, pre-equipped with free Rogers LTE wireless data.” The carefully-worded announcement added that “over 21,000 will be sent to the homes of families in need.”

This week, the Toronto and District School Board was forced to distribute a statement to its trustees, which the NDP has obtained. It reads:

“Last week’s announcement by the Minister was highlighting, from a provincial level, what school boards are doing with regard to distribution of devices at the local level. At this point in time, there are no additional iPads (or additional money for iPads) being provided by the Province.”


Bluewater District School Board meeting

April 21, 2020

Trustee Thomson: Regarding the announcement by the Minister last week. How many iPads will our board receive?

Alana Murray, Director of Education: We have absolutely no information on this other than I heard announcement on TV as well. My understanding is we should be receiving something, but we have received none to date and we have not received any info about how those will be distributed to school boards. It’s 21K iPads and across 72 school boards it would be a very small number but we have not received any information.

Chair: Have you put forward anything to the ministry about that? Asking the ministry? How will they be loaded? And getting into students hands?

Director of Education: Yes, chair, we, the Directors have asked a lot of questions about this. Executive Officer of CODE has put forth our questions to the Deputy Minister - there may be an update Thursday when we have our weekly call, but we have no more information.