The Ontario Liberal Plan for Education

Over these past two years, it was hard to keep learning. Our kids struggled with opening and closing classes, teachers felt disconnected with remote learning and parents were overwhelmed. To make matters worse, the Ford Conservatives targeted our schools and teachers – planning to fire 10,000 teachers, increase class sizes and move more classes online just months before the pandemic began.

Our province and our kids deserve the best education in the world, not chaos and disruption. A good education is the best tool we have to help people find success and build a stronger, more prosperous Ontario.

Setting our kids up for success from Kindergarten to Grade 12

✅ Reinstate Grade 13 as an optional fifth year of high school

✅ Cap class sizes at 20 students for all grades

✅ Hire 10,000 more teachers

✅ Offer classes on mental health, financial literacy, taxes and more

✅ End the Ford Conservatives’ mandatory online learning

✅ End academic streaming

✅ Hire 5,000 more special education workers and reduce wait times for special education

✅ Ensure no student waits more for critical mental health help

✅ Invest an additional $10 billion to build and repair more schools

“The Ford Conservatives cut education budgets by $1.3 billion last year, making the brutal impacts of the pandemic on our students even worse. Ontario Liberals choose to invest in helping students fill in the gaps in their education, ensuring that the impacts of the pandemic do not leave a permanent mark on their futures.”
— Steven Del Duca

Cap class sizes in all grades at 20 students

Ontario Liberals will:

  • Cap class sizes at 20 students for all grades 
  • Hire 10,000 more teachers

As our kids try to catch up on learning lost during the pandemic, they need their teachers’ focus and attention more than ever – so they can not just teach, but reach them. While the Ford Conservatives try to cut education funding and raise class sizes, we’ll put a hard class size cap on every grade at 20 students across the province – starting first with schools where this would have the biggest impact. 

Capping class sizes means we’ll need more teachers. To reach this goal, we’ll recruit teachers from other provinces – including those whose religious freedoms are being threatened by Québec’s Bill 21. We’ll also help qualified teachers immigrate to Ontario and attract some of the 80,000 Ontario certified teachers not currently employed by schools back to the teaching profession. Finally, we’ll increase the number of new teachers, particularly in French language programs, by supporting teacher education programs. 

Reinstate an optional Grade 13

Ontario Liberals will: 

  • Reinstate Grade 13 as an optional fifth year of high school
  • Offer classes on mental health, financial literacy, taxes and more

The pandemic stole so much learning and so many experiences from students. They want their high school time back, so we’ll create an option for all current high school students to register in a Grade 13 at no penalty to them or their school. This new grade will allow students to make up for learning and credits where needed, as well as offer new credits in mental health and resilience, financial literacy and taxes, civics, experiential or co-op placements and post-high school pathway planning.

End mandatory online learning

Ontario Liberals will:

  • End the Ford Conservatives’ mandatory online learning
  • Create high-quality online options for high school students

Online learning can be valuable for some students and families, but it should always be optional – something the Ford Conservatives don’t understand. They planned to permanently move K-12 education online, outsource its delivery and require mandatory online courses – a plan that isn’t supported by credible research. Rather, it’s a way for them to cut publicly-funded education, increase class sizes and save money by shortchanging students. We’ll end mandatory online learning while continuing to invest in high-quality, optional online resources and courses for high school students. 

Replace standardized testing and end streaming

Ontario Liberals will:

  • End academic streaming, which unfairly limits a student’s future learning potential
  • Make report cards easier to understand
  • End EQAO tests and replace it with a new assessment strategy

Streaming students into ‘academic’ and ‘non-academic’ classes in Grades 9 and 10 can permanently and prematurely limit a student’s future learning and job potential. We’ll end streaming with the appropriate supports – including smaller class sizes, teacher training and additional help for students experiencing learning gaps. We’ll also address how streaming can perpetuate anti-Black racism and further segregate students from marginalized backgrounds, including before high school and through special education.

We’ll also modernize school report cards to make them easier to understand and more meaningfully communicate progress to families. As well, we’ll end EQAO assessments so students and teachers can focus on making up for lost learning during the pandemic. Since we’ll need a way to measure how our kids are catching up in math and literacy, we’ll collaborate with parents, teachers and education experts to develop a new assessment strategy to capture and address the pandemic’s impact on learning.

Hire an additional special education worker for every school

Ontario Liberals will:

  • Hire 5,000 more special education workers
  • Reduce wait times for special education

So many families told us how the pandemic greatly disrupted the education of their kids with special needs. Because routine and focused attention are so important for these students, we’ll hire a new special education worker for every school – more than 5,000 professionals – to reduce wait times for services and help close learning gaps, including additional support for students with autism and reading disabilities.

Update curriculum to add more Indigenous, French, diverse and modern learning

Ontario Liberals will:

  • Update curriculum to reflect a more modern and diverse Ontario
  • Bring back and expand Indigenous history, languages and culture lessons – including learning about residential schools
  • Support learning French and other languages 

What students learn in the classroom should not only be up-to-date and modern, but they should also be able to see themselves reflected. We’ll review and update curriculum and evaluation tools – working closely with educators, school boards, parents and experts to make sure lessons and learning materials include diverse communities.

As part of this curriculum update, we’ll bring back Indigenous lesson plans the Ford Conservatives cut and make them mandatory, including on the painful history of Ontario’s residential schools. We’ll also make it easier to choose a First Nations language class alongside more support for French learning. In fact, we’ll increase funding for language lessons of all kinds since knowing multiple languages is so important in our globally-connected world.

Support students’ health and wellbeing

Ontario Liberals will:

  • Ensure no student waits more for critical mental health help
  • Hire 1,000 more mental health workers for students and staff
  • Make mental health first aid training more available to staff
  • Give a free breakfast to every student who needs one
  • Get elementary school students moving three times more a day

Two years of a pandemic dealt a devastating blow to the mental health of all our kids who feel more isolated, anxious and uncertain about the future. We need to connect with and inspire students to learn, interact, engage and succeed. In 2019, the Ford Conservatives cut planned funding to student mental health. We’ll hire 1,000 more mental health professionals to directly support students and staff year-round, to eliminate community service wait times and focus especially on culturally-competent services that understand and affirm all kinds of lived experiences. We’ll also make mental health first aid training available for all education workers.

We know that nutritious food helps kids learn and focus, so we’ll ensure no student goes hungry by providing a free Ontario-grown breakfast for every K-12 student who needs one by expanding the Student Nutrition Program. We’ll also make sure elementary students have a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity a day (up from the current 20 minutes).

Make the largest investment to build and repair schools in Ontario’s history

Ontario Liberals will:

  • Invest an additional $10 billion to build and repair more schools
  • Make schools more modern with technology
  • Put schools and community hubs in the same building

Ontario is growing, but more students shouldn’t mean the quality and access to learning suffers. To keep up with this growth, we’ll build new schools and add to existing schools to fit more students where needed. We’ll also make sure schools already built are accessible and in a good condition measured by publicly-reported standards, especially when it comes to ventilation.

We’ll build and repair schools by cancelling the Ford Conservatives’ misguided Highway 413 project and reinvesting that $10 billion in schools and eliminating the repair backlog. We’ll also put new technology and devices in classrooms to close the digital divide, increasing the existing budget for such resources. Finally, we’ll support schools as community hubs, reverse budget cuts to after-hours community programs in schools and encourage schools and community services to share buildings so students and their families can easily access services, especially in rural and Northern Ontario.

Improve the way we fund and listen to school communities

The Ontario Liberals will:

  • Review and update how elementary and high schools get funded
  • Protect the right of students, parents and education workers to be heard

The way Ontario funds schools is based on a decades-old, one-size-fits-all formula – one that forces smaller and rural schools to close while also failing to upgrade schools in larger, fast-growing communities. It’s time to refresh that formula top to bottom – including a review to ensure equitable access to Education Development Charges. We’ll also consider the needs of Franco-Ontarians, students with special needs, people living in rural and Northern Ontario and those in fast-growing neighbourhoods in this new formula. 

Finally, we’ll protect the rights of parents, students and education workers to be heard in evidence-based decision making by reconvening the Education Partnership Table. We’ll listen to associations, school boards, unions, municipalities and parent groups on the commitments we’re making around learning.

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