MPPs returned to the Legislature on March 18 after their constituency week.

Bill 48, Safe and Supportive Classrooms Act

MPPs continued Third Reading debate on this legislation. On February 25, OPSBA President Cathy Abraham and Executive Director Rusty Hick presented to the Standing Committee on Social Policy regarding the bill and its proposed amendments. This legislation was introduced on October 25, 2018.

Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act

Prior to the March Break, this legislation was referred to the Standing Committee on General Government. Public hearings were held on March 18, 2019. The bill had clausal review and was sent back to the House for Third Reading. OPSBA sent a written submission to the Committee responding to proposed amendments in Schedule 3 that affects the Education Act and the Child Care and Early Years Act. This legislation was introduced on December 6, 2018.

Government’s New Vision for Education – “Education that Works for You”

On March 15, 2019 Education Minister Lisa Thompson issued the news release, ‘Back-to-Basics’ Math Curriculum, Renewed Focus on Skilled Trades and Cellphone Ban in the Classroom Coming Soon to Ontario. The announcement includes the government’s plans for many areas in education, including: e-learning, the Grants for Student Needs (GSN), Technology/Broadband, Cellphones, the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO), Math Curriculum, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) curriculum, Skilled Trades, Financial Literacy, Indigenous Education and the Health and Physical Education (H&PE) curriculum.  Included in this announcement were details for a next phase for consultations regarding Hiring Practices and Class Size, with a feedback deadline of May 31, 2019.

For these two consultations, OPSBA’s Labour Relations team will take the lead and work with our member boards via HR leads (senior negotiators) and the Association’s Labour Relations Steering Committee. OPSBA’s Executive Council and Board of Directors will discuss the input to this extended consultation at their next meetings. The Education Program and Policy Development Work Teams will also be discussing the other pieces at their upcoming meetings.

Following the announcement, OPSBA issued the news release, OPSBA welcomes continued engagement but has class size concerns and a separate statement about proposed secondary class sizes.

Ministry Memo B8: New Vision for Education

Ministry Memo B9: Next Phase of Consultations on Hiring Practices and Class Sizes

Ontario Autism Program (OAP)

On March 21, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services Lisa MacLeod issued the news release, Ontario Enhancing Support for Children with Autism. The ministry will reopen consultations on how to provide autism treatment services to children with the most complex needs. Under the “enhanced” program, families with children with autism under the age of six will still receive $20,000 annually and those with children six and over will receive $5,000. However, the funding will no longer be connected to a family’s income. The government’s goal remains to clear the province’s 23,000-child long waitlist for services.

In response to this and restating concerns about class size, OPSBA issued the following statement:
“Following today’s announcement regarding enhanced support for children with autism, we look forward to the government taking a similar second look at proposed secondary class size changes during the consultation process that has been established. Raising class size averages from 22 to 28 will have a dramatic and harmful effect on both students and staff in secondary schools across Ontario. We will continue to seek every opportunity to consult with the government on the impacts of any proposed changes to public education.”