Ontario Liberals promise to cap class sizes for all grades at 20 students

A physically distanced classroom is seen in Toronto amidst the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday, September 1, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio

The Ontario Liberals would spend $1 billion to cap class sizes at 20 students for every grade across the province and hire 10,000 teachers if elected in June, party leader Steven Del Duca announced Thursday.

Del Duca said it would ensure every student gets the focus and attention they deserve.

"I want to stress a hard cap of 20, so that students and their teachers can connect with one another, so that students can be taught, but so that the teachers can also reach the students," he said in Vaughan, Ont.

To hire 10,000 teachers, the Liberals said they would recruit some from other provinces, help qualified teachers immigrate to Ontario, and work to attract some of the 80,000 Ontario-certified teachers they say are not currently employed by schools back to teaching.

As well, the Liberals are promising to end a mandatory graduation requirement for two online credits introduced by the Progressive Conservative government.

Del Duca said he will be releasing more planks in his education platform, but that he wants to address pandemic-related learning gaps and review and update the standardized testing system.

The NDP has promised to introduce a cap of 24 students for Grades 4 through 8 and hire 20,000 teachers and education workers if elected in June, as well as scrap the requirement for two online courses.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the previous Liberal government let class sizes balloon and froze teachers' wages.

"No matter what Steven Del Duca says now, he had 15 years to to make sure we had smaller class sizes, and the Liberals refused to do it," she said in Toronto.

"They had 15 years to pay attention to our public education system, but instead, they didn't do that work."

Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford said the Liberal government actually closed schools.

"So they won't have to worry about capping anything because they won't have the schools to put the students in," he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 5, 2022.