ontario education

Leaked report shows Ford government ignored the public's feedback on education

Ontario's embattled PC government and the province's four main teachers unions continue to wage war against each other in hopes of reaching a new labour deal.

The teachers, who have been without a contract and pursuing job actions (including rotating strikes) since August, argue that the Doug Ford government's "deep, permanent cuts" to the province's education system are jeopardizing the futures of students and undercutting those who teach them.

Chief among their concerns are increased class sizes, less resources and the replacement of actual secondary school classes with "e-learning" modules.

Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, Ontario's government has maintained that what they're doing is in line with what the public wants for its education system.

Newly-leaked results from the province's own mass-consultations prove otherwise.

More than 72,000 Ontario parents, students, educators and employers weighed in on what the province's education system should look like back in December of 2018 during what was touted as "the largest public consultation on education in the province's history."

"I am encouraged by the level and quality of engagement in these consultations," said then-Minister of Education Lisa Thompson when the consultation period concluded. Minister of Education. "I want to sincerely thank the people of Ontario who provided such thoughtful and meaningful feedback."

The Ministry said at the end of December 2018 that it would be "analyzing the feedback received" and provide an update on the findings in winter 2019.

Critics, journalists and advocacy groups have been trying to obtain the full results of the consultation ever since.

The government itself may have refused to release any information about the public's response to larger class sizes, but it came out this week anyway when the consultation reports were entered as evidence at an ongoing Labour Relations Board hearing between the province and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association.

"'Do not increase class sizes' — and forget about e-learning. Those were two main messages for the Ford government from more than 7,000 public submissions during last year's education consultations," wrote The Toronto Star's Kristin Rushowy in a piece published Friday. 

Rushowy, who has obtained the reports, says that one of the "key themes" identified by the consultations was, in fact, that "larger class sizes negatively impact student learning (and) will reduce the quality of education."

The submissions further show that respondents on the whole did not support "mandatory online learning."

"The government spent just shy of a million dollars to gain this input from parents and students and experts," said NDP education critic Marit Stiles to the Star in response the contents of the "secret" reports.

"Despite all of that, when they didn't get the responses they wanted ... they decided to hide them."

Lead photo by

Boris Terzic

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