Cornwall, ON – On May 10th, 175 education workers, parents, students, and concerned community members gathered in front of MPP Jim McDonell’s office in an appeal to protect what matters most – our students’ education. The rally is part of a campaign to convince Ford to reconsider his government’s recent budget, which included decimating cuts to Ontario’s world-class public education system.
The impact of these cuts is amplified locally where geography, declining enrolment, and rural economic challenges already place great strain on our rural schools, which are now being asked to do even more with even less. Disastrous consequences of these cuts will include classes that balloon in size and hundreds of courses that will no longer be available, severely constraining students’ options for planning their pathways for their futures.
Cornwall and area high schools face losing a potential 25 teachers, that equates to a devastating loss of 150 courses. This greatly limits a student’s options of selecting courses that meet their needs and interests, and can inhibit post-secondary options. Furthermore, cuts to special education, student success, guidance, and support staff are setting students up for failure.
“Students in our schools, their parents, teachers, and our communities depend on the high-quality services from the people who make our schools work: custodians, educational assistants, early childhood educators, office/clerical staff, library workers, computer technicians, speech language assistants, alternative education workers and others,” said Carole Airhart, president of Local 5678 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). “The Ford government’s cuts to education will hurt children with special needs who need support from EAs. The cuts will affect students’ health when there aren’t enough custodians to keep Ontario schools clean. Our students deserve better than that; they deserve the quality and levels of services that will help them succeed.”
The Ford government’s requirement for students to complete 4 online courses is also a recipe for disaster. “Many of our families do not have access at home to a computer or reliable internet service. Furthermore, it has been proven that online learning does not work for our students,” stated Danny Thomas, President of the Secondary Teachers’ Union of Upper Canada.
Erin Blair, President of ETFO Upper Canada Local, comments, “Larger class sizes and insufficient funding for students with special needs, mental health issues, and high-risk behaviours further amplify the resulting impact on student safety and wellbeing.”
These cuts are nothing but detrimental to our schools and students, and we need to remind Doug Ford that cost-savings cannot be put before the wellbeing of our students. Investing in education is how we can protect what matters most in Ontario.