Ontario New Democratic Party Leader Andrea Horwath made a campaign stop in front of the Ontario Legislature to talk about the party's education platform and Premier Dalton McGuinty's Liberal government's record.
Speaking in Toronto Thursday, Ontario New Democratic Party Leader Andrea Horwath criticized the provincial government’s record on education and in particular school fees and fundraising.
As part of a photo-op, the Ontario NDP Leader sat down with Ryan Rocca, a 13-year-old student, outside of the Ontario Legislature at Queen’s Park. Horwath talked briefly about the issue of fees and guaranteed students that they have the right to attend schools without paying fees.
Horwath stated that the Liberal government has not adhered to the Education Act, which restricts schools in the province from charging fees for things like workbooks, course fees, textbooks and musical instruments.
If elected on Oct. 6, Horwath said the New Democrats will provide cash-strapped high schools with $20 million to avoid these fees. Furthermore, under the NDP, the government will provide each school with a per capita grant that will be given to special events, clubs and sports teams.
Ontario New Democratic Party Leader Andrea Horwath speaking with Ryan Rocca, a 13-year-old student.
This would compensate schools for lost revenue.
“We are proud of our education announcements today – both in post-secondary this morning and this afternoon. For far too long, children in some schools have been unable to get the quality education that other children are able to get,” said Horwath during a media scrum.
“So what our announcement does is it provides a base amount of funding for parent councils so students are not short-changed for when it comes to having access to the basic essentials of a decent education and it also makes sure the fees currently being charged to students in secondary schools are ended so the ability to get a credit in a high school won’t be reliant on paying a fee for that course.”
Horwath explained that there are a number of issues facing schools and education in the province, which is why they have committed to review the funding formula because public schools should remain public. She said the current system is turning into a “two-tier system.”
The party’s plan, says Horwath, will encourage successful parent councils to partner up with the government because “I think parents overall want to be involved in the education of their children, they want to do things to help out to provide a good education environment and good learning experience for their kids.”
Ontario New Democratic Party Leader Andrea Horwath speaking at a media scrum at Queen's Park.
Earlier in the day, Horwath spoke outside of Ryerson University where she promised a freeze on tuition for four years and to eliminate the interest on the provincial portion of student loans. She also pledged to establish a youth employment initiative.
Following the Queen’s Park event, Horwath heads to Brampton to meet with supporters.
Liberal Member of Provincial Parliament responds
Don Valley West Liberal MPP and Ontario Transportation Minister, Kathleen Wynne, stood by the media scrum to listen on Horwath’s campaign announcement.
Speaking during a media scrum, Wynne said that she was surprised that the NDP only announced their education platform Thursday considering that many people in the province have already voted.
“What I did hear was about funding for schools, I heard fundraising raised, but what we need to understand is that a lot of what Andrea is talking about is already happening in the schools,” said Wynne at Queen’s Park. “I don’t know if she understands that.”
Wynne, though, noted that when it comes to fees, the government has “clearly” stated that there are no mandatory fees.
“I didn’t hear anything about student achievement, I didn’t hear anything about graduation rates, I didn’t hear anything about kids having more opportunity to excel,” added the Liberal MPP. “I’m very, very surprised the thinness of the platform.”
When asked for her thoughts on Horwath’s plan on a tuition freeze and elimination of interest, Wynne said that when she speaks to her constituents at the door, she said that voters are excited more about a tuition cut “because the sticker shock sometimes is too much for families.”
Polling numbersDigital Journal reported Wednesday about the recent Ipsos Reid poll that showed a tight race between Premier McGuinty and Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak. The numbers show that McGuinty holds a one-point edge over Hudak.
Andrea Horwath’s NDP sits in third with 24 percent. Green Party’s Mike Schreiner polled at only one percent.