Gates supports teachers' unions push for smaller class sizes
Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates is continuing to call on the government to create smaller class sizes.
Gates, who is the Official Opposition NDP critic for Workplace Health and Safety, released a statement following the decision of the four major teachers unions to challenge Ford’s school re-opening plans at the Ontario Labour Relations Board.
Gates says front-line educators deserve a safe workplace and should not be worried about catching the virus and spreading it.
“It shouldn’t have to come to this. Front-line educators and everyone working in our schools are workers just like anyone else – and just like everyone else they deserve a safe workplace. No Ontarian should have to go to work and worry about catching this virus, and potentially spreading it to their families and the community.
Even before this pandemic we were facing classes of 30 and 35 kids who were crammed beside each other with fewer staff and crumbling classrooms with inadequate air filtration systems that have been neglected for years by Liberal and Conservative governments.
It will be hard enough to teach kids these new behaviours and to stay safe even with smaller classes and more caring adults on hand. Expecting them to do it in crowded classrooms and hallways with only one teacher trying to supervise 30 students is downright dangerous and will put the health and safety of students, their families and their communities at unnecessary risk.
It doesn’t need to be this way – the premier and the minister of education can sit down with teachers and education workers today and find a path forward to keep them safe and ensure that kids aren’t spreading the virus in our community. As a province, we have come too far to go backwards now. With safer, smaller classrooms we can protect the health of our kids and our workers, and ensure Ontario can continue to control the spread of this deadly virus and avoid a new wave of infections.”