Liberal leadership candidate would reverse Doug Ford's education cuts
Steven Del Duca is seen in this undated file photo. (The Canadian Press)
TORONTO -- Ontario Liberal leadership candidate Steven Del Duca is pledging to reverse Premier Doug Ford’s education policies if the party is returned to power in 2022, promising to lower class sizes and restore funding while also saving money in school boards.
The perceived front-runner in the leadership race unveiled a "better education policy" which is largely predicated on undoing education-related funding cuts by the current Progressive Conservative government.
Del Duca’s plan would reverse scheduled class size increases in elementary and secondary schools, returning them to 2018-2019 ratios under the former Liberal government.
Del Duca said a Liberal government under his leadership would also repeal Ford's "anti-bargaining legislation" and pass new laws to prevent future governments from "imposing arbitrary wage freezes and caps."
Bill 124, passed by the Ford government this fall, limits all Ontario public sector unions — including teachers—to a one per cent salary increase per year. The law has complicated bargaining with the province’s public high school teachers who have requested a cost of living increase of about two per cent a year for three years.
"Doug Ford is obsessed with laying off as many teachers as possible. He doesn’t care if the layoffs come from high class sizes or from mandatory online courses – education to him is no more than a line item on a budget spreadsheet," Del Duca said in a statement.
A spokesperson for Premier Ford took to Twitter to defend the government from the notion that it’s solely focused on spending cuts.
"We're spending $1.2 billion MORE on education than what the Liberals were spending," Executive Director of Communication, Laryssa Waler, tweeted.
The Ontario Liberal party will select its next leader on March 7, 2020.