student walkout ontario

Students walk out from hundreds of Ontario schools to protest education cuts

An estimated 100,000 elementary and high school students in Ontario are walking out of their classrooms this afternoon in protest against the provincial government's recent cuts to education.

The youth-led #StudentsSayNo movement, organized online by teen activists from across the province, is one of the largest and most comprehensive protests Ontario has seen since Doug Ford was elected Premier last year.

Students from as many as 700 schools left class at 1:15 p.m. today in opposition of controversial PC government policies that will (or already do) affect them directly.

"The announced policy changes and financial cuts will be extremely detrimental to students on both a long-term and widespread scale," reads a letter from the organizing team.

"In addition to its financial impact, the changes will hurt students in a non-monetary and social capacity. It is clear that they do not have the best interests of we the students at heart."

"The time to speak up is now," the letter continues. "It is crucial that we take back our education and show that we have a loud and powerful voice."

"We must not let our opinions be brushed aside just because of our age. These education cuts are directly affecting all of us students, so our point of view matters. We need to hold the government accountable and ensure that we are being heard."

Their voices are coming across pretty clear today as they storm out of schools en masse, thought it's unclear how much the government will listen.

Opposition leader Andrea Horwath and Green Party leader Mike Schreiner are among the many politicians who've thrown their support behind the student walkout.

"It is my honour to stand in solidarity with you, the tens of thousands of students who are walking out today to demand better from the government," said Horwath in a statement on Thursday morning.

"Over the last nine months, Doug Ford has taken aim at public education over and over again. He scrapped $100 million in critical school repairs when schools are literally crumbling across the province. He cut $25 million in education programming that was helping put young people and families on a good path," she continued.

"He made students unsafe by dragging the sex ed curriculum back to the previous century. And now, Doug Ford is removing caps on class sizes, ripping $1 billion away from your education, and taking 10,000 teachers and educators away from you. You deserve better."

Ontario NDP Education Critic Marit Stiles is joining local students in their protests at Bloor Collegiate Institute and Oakwood Collegiate Institute in Toronto.

NDP MPPs Jill Andrew, Jessica Bell, Tom Rakocevic and Kevin Yarde are similarly attending protests at GTA highschools to lend their support to the movement.

Many parents, teachers and even schools are also speaking out in support of the young activists and their cause.

Nobody's too young for a little mid-day civic engagement, it seems.

"This is no longer just a walkout; it's a movement. Because of young people like you, awareness is being spread and our voices are being listened to," reads a message from protest organizers.

"Together with young people across Ontario, you are challenging the status quo and achieving an unprecedented level of impact. We commend you for your hard work and dedication. It will not go unnoticed."

Lead photo by

Brian English

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