A Robust Plan for
World-Class Public Education
Ontario Liberals win when we lead boldly on education. Our kids deserve high-quality public education, our educators deserve respect, and the Ford government doesn’t seem to care.
My parents were both teachers, and I was on the picket line with them as a kid in the Harris years. We deserve better. Our plan will restore world-class public education in Ontario to set our kids up for success, and ensure that cost is never a barrier to post-secondary opportunities.
Ford is underfunding our education system. Our plan makes smart investments in our future, delivering high quality K-12 and post-secondary education.
- Improve students’ in-class support by eliminating waitlists for special education, capping class sizes and hiring more educators, and strengthening the curriculum in collaboration with educators.
- Support students’ out-of-class experience by expanding funding for extracurriculars, broadening access to mental health supports, and implementing a universal healthy school food program based on the work of the Coalition for Healthy School Food.
- Deliver the best facilities for our kids by funding necessary repairs and upgrades, ensuring access to high-quality internet, proper air conditioning and filtration, expanding green retrofits, and keeping schools accessible to rural and northern communities.
- Ensure equity and inclusion by creating space for everyone to be who they are, supporting reconciliation, strengthening French education, and improving school safety.
- Respect for our educators by committing to fair bargaining, encouraging teacher-led professional development, delivering employment dignity for support staff, and more.
- Ensure cost is never a barrier to post-secondary education by providing free tuition for low-income families, expanding OSAP grants, eliminating interest on student loans with more flexible repayment, and new student housing.
- Upgrade on-campus experiences and opportunities by taking action to address sexual and gender-based violence on campuses, delivering greater access to youth mental health services, and levelling the playing field for northern institutions.
- Support all kinds of post-secondary success by supporting the trades and work-integrated learning at the same time as we increase support for graduate research.
- Improve conditions for international students by addressing exploitation and a lack of transparency, working with post-secondary institutions to increase operational funding, and align international enrollment with programs that lead to in-demand jobs.
High quality public education is the foundation of equal opportunity, good citizenship, and economic prosperity.
Unfortunately, the Ford government has failed to make high-quality public education, from primary to post-secondary, a priority.
The Ford government has underfunded public education, undermined the collective bargaining rights of workers, and shown disrespect and disorganization as it changes policies without engaging or supporting educators and parents.
They have also underfunded our post-secondary education system, rolling back student financial aid, creating inequities for northern and rural institutions, and worsening conditions for international students.
We deserve a government that will restore world-class public education in Ontario and ensure that students have opportunities to reach their potential inside and outside the classroom.
We also deserve a government that values all kinds of higher education, whether it’s a diploma in the trades or a PhD in basic science.
As Premier, Nate will defend high quality public education for our kids, reverse underfunding of K-12 and postsecondary education, improve working conditions for our educators, and help post-secondary students and recent graduates prepare for careers in a changing economy.
Ontario should be one of the best places in the world for an education. Our kids deserve high-quality resources, facilities, and educators, and our educators deserve respect.
Nate’s plan will restore world-class public education in Ontario to set our kids up for success, and ensure that cost is never a barrier to post-secondary opportunities.
We will build a high-quality public education system at the K-12 level, by:
- Improving students’ in-class support by eliminating waitlists for special education, capping class sizes and hiring more educators, and strengthening the curriculum in collaboration with educators.
- Supporting students’ out-of-class experience by expanding funding for extracurriculars, broadening access to mental health supports, and implementing a universal healthy school food program based on the work of the Coalition for Healthy School Food.
- Delivering the best facilities for our kids by funding necessary repairs and upgrades, ensuring access to high-quality internet, proper air conditioning and filtration, expanding green retrofits, and keeping schools accessible to rural and northern communities.
- Ensuring equity and inclusion by creating space for everyone to be who they are, supporting reconciliation, strengthening French education, and improving school safety.
- Respecting our educators by committing to fair bargaining, encouraging teacher-led professional development, delivering employment dignity for support staff, and more.
We will also build a world class postsecondary education system by:
- Ensuring cost is never a barrier to post-secondary education by providing free tuition for low-income families, expanding OSAP grants, eliminating interest on student loans with more flexible repayment, and new student housing.
- Upgrading on-campus experiences and opportunities by taking action to address sexual and gender-based violence on campuses, delivering greater access to youth mental health services, and levelling the playing field for northern institutions.
- Supporting all kinds of post-secondary success, by supporting the trades and work-integrated learning at the same time as we increase support for graduate research.
- Improving conditions for international students by addressing exploitation and a lack of transparency, working with post-secondary institutions to increase operational funding, and align international enrollment with programs that lead to in-demand jobs.
High-Quality Public Education From K-12
Improving in-class support:
- Eliminate waitlists for special education and increase resources to hire education assistants, social workers, psychologists, behavioral specialists, speech language pathologists, and more. We will require boards to use funds to wind down the assessment backlogs. We will also re-examine the model that supports special education funding, and focus on the areas that are currently most underserved.
- Cap class sizes, and hire and train more educators by getting rid of the class size averages and guidelines that allow boards to create large classes, and setting a reasonable cap on class sizes at all levels, in consultation with educators; hiring additional teachers, early childhood educators, and special educators to support the cap; look into expediting teacher education, modeled on Western University.
- Work in direct collaboration with educators to strengthen the curriculum by:
- Putting critical thinking skills at the centre of what we teach;
- Encouraging student independence and creativity, including through more hands-on learning;
- Expanding civic literacy, making civics a full credit course and teaching — at every grade starting in grade 5 — the importance of democratic participation and responsible citizenship;
- Supporting continued emphasis on numeracy and literacy, and expanding exposure to STEM, robotics, coding, skilled trades, and entrepreneurship;
- Expanding experiential teaching of life skills, including financial literacy, healthy living and nutrition, and self-reliance skills in cooking, shopping for necessities, and more;
- Promoting respect, tolerance, and pluralism, and addressing all kinds of discrimination, including antisemitism, Islamophobia, transphobia and homophobia; and
- Restoring reconciliation as a priority through Indigenous language education, and by teaching about both the positive contributions of Indigenous Peoples to Canada, as well as the historical injustice and legacy of residential schools.
- Support Skilled Trades Pathways by working with labour unions to support recruitment and promotion of skilled trades at the high school level, and promoting pathways, like the Specialist High Skills Major Stream (SHSM). However, we will cancel the policy that allows grade 11 students to transition fully out of the classroom.
- Ensure equitable access to technology: Boost technology resources, starting with providing basic broadband internet access everywhere, with a focus on underserved schools first.
- Review the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) assessment to determine whether and how it should be improved or replaced.
- End mandatory online learning as part of secondary school diploma requirements.
Supporting out of class experiences
- Significantly expand funding support for extra-curricular activities to establish equitable access across schools and regions, and to improve student engagement and satisfaction. We will ensure that current educators and staff will not be asked to do more for the same compensation.
- Significantly broaden access to mental health supports in school by increasing the availability of mental health professionals (e.g. counsellors and graduation coaches), starting with those schools that are currently most underserved. We will also expand funding to School Mental Health Ontario to support the 91% of schools that report needing more resources to support mental health, and 46% of schools that report having no access to professionals at all.
- Implement a universal healthy school food program based on the work of the Coalition for Healthy School Food, including a summer food program to close the learning gap in communities experiencing food insecurity.
- Rethink student transportation to ensure every student is guaranteed a safe and timely ride to school, and explore partnerships with municipal transit providers.
- Appoint a Premier’s Expert Task Force on Student Wellbeing Improvement to provide additional recommendations.
Maintaining and upgrading our facilities
- Keep schools accessible to rural & northern communities: We will support creative solutions like community hubs, focus on joint-use school planning, and ensure rural and northern communities do not lose access to essential public education services.
- Build, repair and retrofit our schools to ensure we have the best facilities for our kids: We will ensure proper air conditioning and filtration (i.e ASHRAE standard or similar), high-quality internet access, and upgrade infrastructure, technology, and facilities to support learning (e.g. in skilled trades).
- Sustainable schools and green retrofits: We will retrofit schools to deliver energy efficiency and local energy solutions. We will also help schools transition from polluting diesel to clean electric buses, ensure they are vehicle to grid ready, and install electric vehicle chargers in school parking lots.
- Maximize the use of school space for community benefit: We will improve the coordination between before and after school care, and the use of public school space. We will also improve the process for booking space for community events and summer programs.
Ensuring equity and inclusion in the classroom:
- Protect students’ rights and create safe spaces: Everyone must be free to be who they are in our public school system, regardless of one’s sexual orientation, gender, race, or religious faith. At all times, decisions must be made in the best interests of our kids.
- Support reconciliation in our schools by updating the curriculum, expanding access to Indigenous language courses, improving the recruitment and retention of Indigenous educators; and prioritizing in-school cultural support for schools that serve Indigenous students.
- Strengthen French education across Ontario including by supporting community and cultural partnerships and inter-board cooperation, as well as by training and hiring additional French teachers and education workers.
- Improve school safety and address behavioral issues and violence: We will deliver a comprehensive approach that includes character education, social-emotional learning, access to mental health supports, school-based partnerships and mentorships, extra-curriculars, anti-bullying programs, and empowering teachers and administrators.
Respecting our educators
- Encourage and fund teacher-led professional development and creativity: We want to attract talent, create leadership opportunities in schools, and encourage ongoing professional learning, including by re-establishing support for professional learning communities.
- Work in collaboration with educators on any curriculum updates, with adequate funding and support for training and implementation. We commit to regular consultations (e.g. with teachers’ unions, principal associations, parent and community groups, etc) on system needs, policy and curricular development, and implementation of any reforms. We want to attract talent, create leadership opportunities in schools, and encourage ongoing professional learning, including by re-establishing support for professional learning communities.
- A fair and honest collective bargaining process: We will repeal Bill 124 and return to collaborative and respectful collective bargaining. We will never use the notwithstanding clause to undermine the collective voice of workers.
- Better mental health for educators: We will increase support for mental health, recognizing the relationship between an educator’s mental health, and the achievement and well-being of their students.
- Employment dignity for support staff: Many support staff are underemployed. We will work to increase support staff hours to 40 hours per week. As part of this effort, we will work to expand before and after school supervision.
- Support educators in managing and responding to misbehavior and in-school violence: In addition to the new special ed assistants and the comprehensive approach promised above, we will support educators with training and disciplinary tools to control their classrooms, as well as to de-escalate and address root causes of in-school violence.
World Class Post-Secondary Education
Ensuring cost is never a barrier to post-secondary education
- Provide free tuition for low income families by restoring funding that Doug Ford cut in his first year of office.
- Expand grants and OSAP support for middle-income families to ensure that financial assistance is primarily about grants, not loans.
- Eliminate interest on provincial student loans and defer payments until graduate earns at least $50,000, and phase in repayment obligations incrementally based on income.
- Invest in building new, affordable on-campus student housing, in partnership with universities and colleges, by providing an appropriate mix of capital grants and low-cost financing to get safe student housing built.
- Increase funding support for graduate researchers through an expansion of graduate scholarships and research funding to universities, as well as supporting applied research at colleges.
Upgrading on-campus experiences and opportunities
- Action to address sexual and gender-based violence on campuses by establishing a provincial-wide advisory committed to update the current prevention and response strategy, increasing support to on-campus gender-based violence response measures to better support survivors, and improving on-campus education.
- Deliver greater access to high quality, youth-appropriate, evidence-informed mental health services by investing in integrated service hubs and post-secondary institutions. Through the province-wide strategy discussed above, require reporting and support institutions to lower wait times for services.
- Protect student unions and newspapers through provincial policy that enshrines a right to exist and introduces governance standards.
- Increase program offerings that align with labour market and community needs and provide sufficient labour market information to help students make informed choices.
- Levelling the playing field for northern institutions by recognizing the high costs of delivery and increasing government grants.
Supporting the trades and work-integrated learning
- Limit co-op fees and expand work-integrated learning at colleges and universities through support for employers and institutions.
- Support skilled trades pathways, increasing recruitment, retention, and support for students in partnership with colleges, unions and trade councils, focusing on increasing gender and racial diversity in trade programs. In particular, we will ensure newcomers and international students are welcomed and adequately supported.
- Collect and publish the data on apprenticeship starts and completions, as well as the average time by sector, industry, and employer class.
- Create accelerated apprenticeship pathways through the new Ontario Home Building program.
- Partner with trades colleges to clear the backlog of certification exams and work to address any backlogs on the government’s trade program expansion.
- Create a career transition program for those who are currently in the workforce looking for a new career in the skilled trades, and develop (re)training and up-skilling programs to support workers in sectors impacted by the global clean energy transformation.
Improving conditions for international students
- Address and prevent unsafe and crowded living conditions by building new, affordable student housing on or near campus, and ensuring municipalities and postsecondary institutions are planning together for enrollment growth.
- Protect students by appointing an ombudsperson to track and resolve complaints, setting minimum standards for information that students are to receive (including cost of living), cracking down on predatory recruiters, reviewing the public-private partnership model, and ensuring the Ministry of Labour has the resources and tools to police any exploitation of students.
- Work with post-secondary institutions to increase operational funding and reduce the reliance on international students as a means to balance the books. We will review international student tuition as part of this process.
- Align international enrollment in programs that lead to in-demand jobs, and use a portion of international student funding to support quality work-study opportunities, such that students can gain relevant Canadian work experience.