The following is the text of an ETFO news release dated March 15, 2019.

Toronto, ON – The Conservative government announced more cuts to public education today including increases to class size in grades 4-8 and in high school, said the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO). This will result in a reduction of approximately 4,500 teaching positions each year for the next four years according to Ministry of Education staff.

Sam Hammond with media

ETFO President Sam Hammond: Ford gov’t makes hundreds of millions in cuts to education

“The Minister of Education has heard elementary educators and parents and will maintain class size caps in Kindergarten through Grade 3,” said ETFO President Sam Hammond. “However, raising class size in grades 4-8 will have a long-term negative impact on Ontario’s students. Larger classes mean less support for individual students and will disproportionately impact students with special needs.”

“The government has announced hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts at the same time as thousands of students with autism are about to enter schools with no additional supports or resources.”

“The Minister’s proposed changes to current hiring practices are also concerning. Research on new hiring practices introduced in 2012 found that the changes resulted in a more consistent, transparent and fair hiring process for Ontario’s occasional and new teachers when implemented properly by school boards. There was no increase in unsatisfactory teacher performance and no negative impact on hiring for diversity.”

“The government’s intention to increase class size, modify hiring practices and reduce supports for students with special needs outside of the collective bargaining process is a violation of collective bargaining rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. All of these items were the subject of the last round of negotiations and we will use all means at our disposal to defend our right to collectively bargain these matters.”

“As for the Health and Physical Education Curriculum, the Minister has listened to elementary educators and parents by including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) issues, gender identity and consent. While teachers will continue to use their professional judgement, there is still a need to consult further on the curriculum as to when these topics are taught. Our educators will require resources to support implementation of the new curriculum.”