Ontario Liberals will offer optional Grade 13 and put 1,000 more mental health professionals in schools to reach students coping with pandemic harms

KITCHENER – Steven Del Duca was in Fischer Park to release the full Ontario Liberal Public Education Plan, designed to help our kids recover from the long-term harms of the pandemic. The plan offers an optional Grade 13, smaller class sizes, and the mental health supports kids will need to make up for time spent out of the classroom and stuck on a computer at home.

“Utilia and I have watched with pain as our daughters struggled with remote learning and lockdowns that set them back both academically and socially. Many of the older students aren’t ready for college or university,” said Del Duca. “Giving those kids the choice of attending Grade 13 will make sure they’re prepared to take the next big step in their lives.”

The Ontario Liberal commitment to reinstate a Grade 13 choice is the cornerstone of its comprehensive public education plan, providing a structured alternative to the informal and often-discouraged “victory lap.” The new Grade 13 will give students the choice of spending more time on required courses for postsecondary education and offer completely new classes that will deepen their literacy in personal finances, civics, and mental health and wellbeing. 

The Ontario Liberal Education Plan will:

  • Reintroduce a new, optional Grade 13 for students who want to catch up on lost years during the pandemic;
  • Hire 1,000 more mental health professionals for students and staff, and an additional special education worker for every school to directly support students and staff year-round;
  • Lower and cap class size at 20 in all grades, province-wide;
  • Build 200 new schools across Ontario, as well as repair, upgrade and rebuild more than 4,500 schools;
  • Hire 10,000 teachers, including by attracting some of the 80,000 Ontario certified teachers not currently teaching back to the profession;
  • Hire 5,000 more special education workers – to reduce waiting for services that help close learning gaps, including support for students with autism and reading disabilities.
  • Expand the Student Nutrition Program to provide a free Ontario-grown breakfast for students in every grade who needs one;
  • End streaming – and address how it can perpetuate anti-Black racism and further segregate students from marginalized backgrounds;
  • End EQAO tests and replace them with a new assessment strategy;
  • Scrap Stephen Lecce’s requirement that students obtain two online credits to qualify for graduation.

“The Ford Conservatives cut education budgets by $1.3 billion last year, making the brutal impacts of the pandemic on our students even worse,” said Del Duca. “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. My message to Ontarians today is: the choice is yours.” 

Key Facts:

  • Optional Grade 13 will be offered for a total of four years. An Ontario Liberal government will reevaluate the future Grade 13 at that time.
  • The Liberal plan will fully fund all students who choose Grade 13 and pause the current policy of reducing funding for students taking a “victory lap” (after 34 credits).
  • New courses included in an enhanced Grade 13 curriculum will include personal finances, civics, and mental health and wellbeing.
  • Learn more at: https://ontarioliberal.ca/education-plan.

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