Wholly unsupportable

Ontario’s Minister of Education this week announced that the government was providing “an

additional $381 million, provided through the federal government’s Safe Return to Class Fund to keep schools safe from COVID-19.”

In making the announcement, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said: “We will continue to follow expert medical advice and work to get all schools open, for children in all regions of our province.”

The minister’s statement was only partially true. He may indeed be following expert medical advice, but he is certainly not working to get ALL schools open for children in all regions of our province.

Despite the fact that the province has received an amount of funds from the federal government based upon the number of all children aged 4 – 18-years-old attending schools in Ontario, the province appears once again intent on not distributing any of the Safe Return to Class Funds to children aged 4 – 18-years-old in independent schools.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Education yesterday told GAJE it was not likely any the federal funds would be allocated to independent schools.

And so, yet again, we call out the government for its shameful behaviour. Ontario’s policy is wholly unsupportable by any rules of fairness and justice.

Ottawa did not stipulate that the Safe Return to Class funds must flow only to public schools. Do not the parents of children in independent schools also pay taxes to the federal government? Is there no concern for – or call upon the conscience of the province – for the health and safety of Ontario’s 125,000 children attending independent schools?

We ask again: How can the Government of Ontario continue its callous disregard for the health and safety of all Ontario’s children, of compassionate, caring, let alone fair and objectively justifiable, public policy. 

That it does, is an affront.

Readers should make their views known to the Minister of Education.

•••

Be safe. Be well. Shabbat shalom. 

GAJE, February 5, 2021

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