Fixing Education and Schools
Schools are the heart of our communities. Children and youth have suffered enormous losses during the pandemic.
Years of Liberal and Conservative funding freezes and cuts have left our schools overcrowded, understaffed, and in urgent need of repairs, with a multi-billion- dollar repair backlog. Ford slashed $800 million from classrooms and refused to spend money to keep schools safe during COVID. The Ontario NDP has a detailed and doable plan to fix what the Liberals and Conservatives broke and invest to ensure Ontario’s world-class public education system thrives. We’ll ensure every student in the province gets the support, education and opportunities they need to succeed.
Reverse Ford’s cuts: We’ll invest to help students get back on their feet academically, emotionally, and psychologically after a tough few years.
Hire 20,000 Teachers and Education Workers and invest in in-school remedial learning programs to help students recover after two years of learning disruptions.
Repeal Bill 124: We’ll restore respect and fair compensation for the people who deliver education.
End violence against education workers: We'll work with teachers and education workers to improve workplace violence reporting and develop training materials to ensure education workers, and kids, are safe at school.
HELPING STUDENTS THRIVE IN SMALLER CLASSROOMS
Overcrowded classes mean less direct support for students. Doug Ford’s careless cuts to education even before the pandemic led to dangerously packed classrooms and fewer one-on-one supports.
The Ontario NDP has a plan to fix this.
Help students thrive by capping class sizes: We’ll cap classes for Grades 4 through 8 at 24. We’ll reduce high school class sizes to ensure students at every age get the direct support and attention they deserve.
Keep Building Early Learning in Our Schools: We’ll build on Ontario’s successful Full Day Kindergarten model by capping class sizes at 26 and maintaining the Teacher-ECE team.
FIXING THE BROKEN EDUCATION FUNDING FORMULA
Students and families pay the price for government cuts to education. Under Liberal and Conservative governments, per-student funding has declined since 2011, and the model for funding has not been updated to reflect the needs of today’s students.
Review and repair the funding formula: We will work with parents, front-line educators, students, and educational experts to overhaul the education funding formula, starting with a comprehensive public review to be completed within one year.
SUPPORT STUDENTS WHO NEED EXTRA HELP
Increase special education funding: We will base special education funding on actual needs with timely needs assessments. This will mean overall funding increases for students with special educational needs, helping schools, teachers and education assistants give children the support they need.
Learn from Demonstration Schools: We will build on Ontario’s Provincial and Demonstration schools’ track record of success, especially in helping students who are deaf, blind or deaf-blind, and students with severe learning disabilities who need greater support.
SAFE AND HEALTHY SCHOOLS
Students deserve safe places to learn.
The Liberals allowed Ontario’s school repair backlog to reach a whopping $15.8 billion. The Ford Conservatives let the backlog grow to 16.8 Billion.
An Ontario NDP government will make real investments to fix our schools.
Clear the school repair backlog: We’ll immediately address the backlog, with a plan to clear it within 10 years.
Hire more custodians and maintenance staff and establish a province-wide standard for cleaning and school repairs.
To support rural and Northern schools as their communities grow, we will double the Rural and Northern Education Fund.
As part of ourGreen Democratic New Deal, we’ll upgrade public school buildings to make them carbon neutral and climate resilient, ensuring they meet the current and future needs of their communities. We’ll bring those same principles to new school buildings, to ensure they meet international energy efficiency standards.
We’ll ensure that all schools have up-to-date ventilation systems to prevent the spread of infection during potential future waves of COVID-19.
Fairness in Education Development Charges:We’ll fix the rules around education development charges so they can fund the new schools families need.
SUPPORTING STUDENTS’ MENTAL HEALTH AND WELL-BEING
Students suffered enormous losses during the pandemic.
The Ford government’s cuts to education have meant fewer support staff in schools to support students’ mental health and well-being.
Hire more mental health workers and child and youth workers: We’ll increase in-school support by hiring more mental health workers, child and youth workers, and other education workers. We will create a new position at the school board to assess and improve the delivery of mental health care in our schools.
PROTECTING FRENCH-LANGUAGE EDUCATION
Ontario’s French-language schools are vital to our education system and preserving Franco-Ontarian culture and heritage.
The Ford Conservatives haven’t done enough to attract and retain French language teachers.
The Ontario NDP has a plan to address the French-language teacher shortage and protect French-language schools.
Implement a Working Group on Teacher Shortage in the French-Language School System:We’ll implement the recommendations to help our French language schools thrive.
We’ll respect the constitutional right of French school boards to control their own learning, and scrap plans to take online course content out of the hands of French-language school boards.
Ensure students can access French learning close to home: We’ll review the process for approval of new schools to ensure that students province-wide are able to access French-language learning.
RESPECTING EDUCATION WORKERS
Ontario’s education workers, from teachers to EAs to custodial staff, have done remarkable work under challenging circumstances throughout the pandemic. Yet the Ford Conservatives responded with insults and attacks, ignoring education workers’ expertise and undermining their professionalism.
Andrea Horwath and the New Democrats will forge a new relationship with education workers, founded on respect and collaboration.
Establish a Partnership Table with representation from workers’ unions, school board trustees, principals and other education stakeholders, working together to strengthen public education for the long term.
Roll back damaging changes to the governance of the Ontario College of Teachers, ensuring the profession is truly self-regulating.
Work with education workers to improve school board compliance with health and safety legislation.
Recognizing the role of teachers in curriculum development: We will ensure front-line teachers play a role in curriculum development, and that they are provided with time and support to learn and implement it.
EQUITY IN SCHOOLS
No student, teacher or education worker should have to experience racism in Ontario’s public schools.
The Liberals and Conservatives have failed to fix gaps in the legislation that have allowed racism, discrimination, and systemic barriers in our schools to continue unchecked.
An Ontario NDP government has a plan to keep racism and discrimination out of our schools and across education settings.
Amend the Education Act to address racism and discrimination: We’ll create amendments to set out clear, consistent definitions of racism and anti-racism and standard policies around racial equity training for education workers, procedures for reporting incidents of racism and resources for students who experience racism.
Holocaust education: Ensure students learn the history of the Holocaust, to prevent antisemitism, hatred, and the insidious spread of Holocaust denial.
Support de-streaming: We’ll continue the long- overdue work of ending streaming in Ontario so that no student is put at a disadvantage due to systemic racism, and every student has the opportunity to succeed.
SUPPORTING INDIGENOUS STUDENTS
Indigenous cultures, languages and histories have long been neglected within Ontario’s school curricula.
One of Doug Ford’s first acts as Premier was to cancel Indigenous curriculum writing sessions.
An Ontario NDP government will fix this.
Ensure Indigenous curriculum: We’ll work with Indigenous leaders and educators to ensure that Ontario’s school curricula appropriately reflects Indigenous experiences and histories.
Support more Indigenous representation on boards: We’ll encourage the recruitment of Indigenous school board trustees to ensure Indigenous people are represented in school decision making.
Boost funding for Indigenous language education.
FIXING STUDENT EVALUATIONS
Standardized testing is rigid, outdated and ineffective.
New Democrats believe teachers, not politicians, are best placed to assess individual student progress.
We have a plan to fix Ontario’s outdated system of evaluations.
End the EQAO: We will end EQAO testing, and work collaboratively with educators to determine how random sampling could help spot early trends and determine where we should focus on improvement.
PRESERVING IN-PERSON LEARNING
Online learning has been a rough experience for so many students and their families. The pandemic has made it clear that kids need to be in school for their academic, mental and emotional well-being, with in- classroom, face-to-face interactions with teachers and education workers.
Even before the pandemic, Doug Ford was trying to save money by shifting students out of classrooms into mandatory online courses.
An Ontario NDP government will protect in-person learning for the educational, social, and mental health needs of students.
Scrap Doug Ford’s mandatory requirement for two online courses and end hybrid learning models that leave students without the direct attention they deserve.
Scrap Ford’s plan to privatize online learning and ensure Ontario curricula is developed and led by certified Ontario teachers, not private companies.
IMPROVING POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION
Post-secondary education shouldn’t be a debt sentence, yet too many students in Ontario are stuck graduating with tens of thousands of dollars of debt. COVID-19 has also hit students hard, eliminating jobs that many relied on to pay tuition and make ends meet while in school.
The Liberals underfunded post-secondary education and the Ford Conservatives have made things worse. Ford cut more than $500 million from the Ontario Student Assistance Program, and left students to struggle with inadequate funding through the pandemic.
An Ontario NDP government will ensure a quality post-secondary education is accessible to all Ontarians who want one, and work towards a future where tuition is never a barrier to education.
Reverse Ford’s cuts to OSAP.
Make sure all students graduate debt-free by converting loans to grants: We’ll overhaul Ontario’s post-secondary education funding system and re-invest in the Ontario Student Assistance Program, with a focus on converting loans to grants and bursaries.
Retroactively wipe out student loan interest:We will wipe out any student loan interest owed or paid to the province by any student or past student who still holds a provincial loan.
FIX COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY FUNDING
Colleges and Universities need stable funding to secure good faculty and deliver quality education to students.
Doug Ford has cut college and university funding and imported “performance-based funding” models from the United States.
An Ontario NDP government will ensure colleges and universities have the funding they need.
We’ll scrap Ford’s U.S.-style funding schemes:We’ll work with colleges, universities, faculty, and students to ensure reliable funding and faculty renewal.
Audit of the sector: Launch a collaborative and holistic find-and-fix audit of college and university funding to fix what Ford has broken and ensure the sector is strong.
PROTECTING STUDENTS FROM SEXUAL VIOLENCE
All students deserve to be safe on campus.
For too long, survivors of sexual violence on campus have been afraid to speak up or have spoken up and been dismissed or ignored.
Liberals and Conservatives have not gone far enough to protect students from sexual violence and update university policies on response to sexual violence. Ford’s sexual violence prevention program for new Smart Serve trainees does not go far enough to provide widespread training to servers to protect survivors.
The Ontario NDP will listen to survivors and advocates to keep students safe from sexual violence and improve policies for post-secondary institutions regarding sexual violence reporting.
Compel universities to update their policies on sexual violence reporting to reflect calls from survivors and advocates, and to protect survivors from further harm.
Fund culturally competent, trauma-informed services: We’ll invest to ensure that post-secondary institutions have properly funded, survivor-centred services and staff.
RESPECT FOR STUDENTS
The rights of Ontario post-secondary students must be protected.
The Ford government waged an attack on post-secondary student unions and attempted to strip them of funding – a scheme that was struck down by the courts.
The Ontario NDP will protect students’ fundamental right to organize and operate autonomous groups and clubs.
Enshrine students’ right to have a union, groups and clubs: We’ll work with student unions, groups and clubs to enshrine in law students’ right to organize and form clubs.
MAKE COLLEGE MORE ACCESSIBLE
A college education is a pathway to professional training and a rewarding career for many Ontarians.
Liberal and Conservative governments have failed to deliver the support colleges need.
A New Democrat government will work with colleges, unions, and employers to ensure college graduates are ready for the workforce and help establish partnerships between colleges and employers to provide ongoing training for workers to help them transition to technological changes in the workforce.
As technology changes and we move towards a net-zero economy, opportunities for workers to gain new skills and retrain mid-career will become increasingly important.
The Liberals and Conservatives have neglected to make the investments Ontarians need to get accessible skills and training opportunities while making ends meet.
The Ontario NDP has a concrete plan to put Ontario workers on the path to prosperity now and in the future, with paid work training opportunities in every part of the province.
Create thousands of new, paid co-op and internship opportunities for young people: We’ll invest to create thousands of new paid placements for post-secondary students to get real-life work experience.
Double Ontario’s Career Ready Programfrom 2020 levels so Ontario colleges and universities can create additional work-integrated learning opportunities.