Education, school safety left out of Ontario throne speech

Education and school safety were points that were absent in Monday’s Ontario throne speech, which instead focused on recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and how the province has supported its health-care and long-term care sectors.

Provincial party leaders responded to the speech, which was delivered by Lt.-Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell on Monday, calling it “uninspiring” and “disappointing.”

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“I think today’s speech from the throne has to be deeply, deeply disappointing for the people of Ontario,” said Steven Del Duca, the province’s Liberal Party leader.

“Students, and their families, were looking for safe classrooms and support to help with their recovery and make up for lost learning, yet the word education wasn’t used once.”

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Emerging from a federal election, Del Duca said Ontarians “overwhelmingly supported” $10 per day licenced child care, though that was also left out of the speech.

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath echoed Del Duca’s comments that the throne speech was disappointing.

“If I were premier today, we would be investing in health care and our kids instead of cutting deeper,” Horwath said.

“I’ll never give up on the people of this province. Throughout this session, I am going to keep fighting for what was left out of this throne speech.”

Horwath said she’ll continue to advocate for a safe schools plan with smaller class sizes and for hiring more teachers, education workers and student supports. She also said she’ll fight for mandatory vaccines for health and education workers.

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Also part of the Ontario NDP’s plans is to advocate to hire more nurses and personal support workers and to fight for more local business grants, among other things.

Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner called Monday’s throne speech “one of the most uninspiring” he’s ever heard.

“Where is the announcement for a third round of funding for struggling small businesses or legal support to help them enforce vaccine certificates? Or a plan to make schools safer to protect our kids?” he said in a statement.

Leading up to the throne speech, all three party leaders called on the Ford government to address safety in classrooms.

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“This is the third school year affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, yet schools are still not as safe as they should be,” Schreiner said in a statement ahead of the throne speech Friday.

“Where are the rapid tests? Where are the lower class sizes? Where is the commitment to keeping our kids safe and schools open?”

On Monday, Dowdeswell delivered Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s throne speech to mark the start of a new legislative session and to present a new agenda eight months ahead of the next provincial election.

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The speech comes after the Ontario government prorogued the legislature in September. Politicians had been on summer break since early June and returned on Monday, Oct. 4.

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