Shady Salah – Media in Toronto
Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce said on Friday that a plan being built to ensure students continue to learn even if they’re not at school, noting that it’s the time to make deals to end the instability that so many families face in Ontario.
“We are building a plan that will be available and to be announced soon on ensuring that kids continue to learn, even if they’re not at school. And that’s an important positive step I want you to know that we’re going to make sure that kids learn”, the minister told Ontario reporters in a conference call.
“I cannot announce that plan today, so no point discussing it beyond a commitment that I’m going to unveil it in the coming days. And that’s where you’re going to hear the results. You’re going to hear the plan, and the actions, we’re going to take to ensure students learn,” he added. He praised finalizing a deal with the Catholic teachers, saying “it’s a good deal for students a good deal for parents and taxpayers and a good deal for education workers as well. And it’s going to help us build momentum that’s going to help us drive further deals with our other union partners, because I believe as I’ve long said that students deserve to be in class. And now is the time to focus on providing resolution and keeping kids in class but of course, ensuring the stability of education.”
“That is our obligation to them so I’m very pleased to see that progress, we’re going to continue to work hard. We’re working as we speak with the elementary preparation.”
He also said that works underway with the French teachers. Responding to a question from MEDIAinTORONTO, on the procedures that should be taken by the government to protect students and families interests in the future, the minister said “I think the unions have to really reflect on the impacts of strikes period. I think parents are fed up with them but I think especially during a time of medical crisis global crisis pandemic. It only underscores the need for unions to never, ever compromise the safety of kids.”
“So my goal is this will drive momentum for negotiation, to be the focus not escalation. And I think what I’m hearing from the grace unions that they’re prepared to work with us. And I think it’s now time to get deals to end this instability that so many families face in Ontario.”
Regarding the decision to extend the March break over the fear of the COVID-19, Mr. Lecce said “I have issued an order to close all schools in Ontario for a two week period following March Break. I made that decision in consultation with cabinet, a deputy premier of the Ministry of Health Christine Elliot and the Premier of Ontario, Doug Ford. After receiving a briefing by Ontario’s chief medical health officer said, there can be risk to students and staff should following March way given that there’s an increase in travel to be precautious to be proactive and to ensure that we do everything we can to reduce the spread of this disease. We took action and decisive action to not only accept the advice but implemented fully literally within hours of receiving it. And that announcement I think is going to help us keep many young people who are already susceptible to disease keep them safe, keep our vulnerable kids safe.”He said that should this situation evolve, he will be making announcements with respect to that.