Government of Ontario

MPP French takes Oshawa families’ school concerns to Doug Ford

Published on September 16, 2020

QUEEN’S PARKDuring question period Monday, Oshawa NDP MPP Jennifer French called on Doug Ford to listen to local families who are calling for smaller classes, and more staff to keep children safe this September as the COVID-19 crisis continues.

“Families in Oshawa are anxious about their children going back-to-school during this pandemic,” said French, who directed their concerns to Doug Ford.

“Tina Walker points out that ‘Special needs kids have not been addressed at all. The plan is unsafe, callous and risky.’

French invited local families and parents to provide their perspectives through a community survey that received an overwhelming response. Families of school-aged children expressed their apprehension and stress. Parents are asking for smaller class sizes, increased staff, more custodians, and for schools to have the funds and supports they need for all children to be kept safe.

“Amy Colegate says ‘I am a parent of a vulnerable child and my own parents are seniors. I worry that the government is prioritizing the economy over lives. When I say this, I don’t mean it abstractly. The life of my child is at risk.’

“Mike Mutimer says, ‘We only have one chance to do this properly. It can’t be rushed and it can’t be done just to satisfy reopening the economy. We need to make sure we’re doing this right.’

“Will the premier ‘do this right’ and make smaller classes and children’s well-being the priority this September?”

French called on Ford to cap class sizes and commit to parents like Heidi Wayling that their children will be safe. French shares Wayling’s letter with the legislature:

“My 5 year old should be entering his second year in kindergarten. For the past two months my stress levels trying to decide what we are going to do have been very high. It has only gotten worse the last couple of weeks. I do not feel he is safe, physically, mentally or emotionally returning to his class of 29 kids and being told he must stay distanced from them all. How will this even be possible? He is very energetic, and will not be successful sitting at a table all day. At the same time, spending hours a day watching a teacher online is not in his best interest.

“I cry myself to sleep often. I feel like if I send him, I’m putting his life and the lives of our family members at risk. Most of my friends are very angry about the position we’ve been put in.”