Hundreds from Windsor-Essex Join Protest against Education Cuts

More than 30,000 people brought a message to Queens Park over the weekend, that proposed changes to Ontario's education system should receive a failing grade.

Five busses departed from Windsor early Saturday morning, delivering 230 teachers, students and concerned citizens to Toronto, according to Adelina Cecchin.

Cecchin tells AM800 News it was exhilarating to see so many people united against inflated class sizes, a possible shift to e-learning, and cuts to autism programs.

"It was impactful, it was meaningful, it really gave a focus to people and it started to say, what's happening to public education? We started to feel that we can reclaim some of our power in trying to define where public education is going," says the president of the Greater Essex Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario.

Tweets from Ontario PC Leader Doug Ford dismissed the protest, saying PC's will not be distracted, "from making the necessary reforms to create a sustainable, world-class education system."

Cecchin says it's not the approach of a responsible government.

"To say that we will not be distracted is really saying we do not want to hear the voices that are affected by these cuts and that's not the approach that should be taken when we're looking at preparing our students and the teaching profession for the future," she added.

Everyone she spoke to is worried about the reputation of Ontario's education system.

"We have a reputation as a world renowned education system and with these cuts, what's going to happen to this reputation that we have? What's going to happen to student learning and what's going to happen to the teaching profession," she says. "It's something we need to protect very dearly to ensure that we continue with the success and the results that we've seen in Ontario."

According to a memo sent by Ontario's Ministry of Education on Wednesday, 3,475 teaching positions will be phased out over the next four years.

That's to save an estimated $851-million.

Thousands of students from throughout the province staged walk-outs to protest that move last week.