TORONTO -- The Ontario government is investing in a number of advertisements they say will help inform parents and members of the public of the health measures that will be in place as kids return to schools in September.

The advertisements, which will run on the radio in both English and French as well as in print, don’t tell parents much they don’t already know. In one of them, the province reiterates that elementary students will be in class five days a week while secondary students will start the year in an adaptive model with “part-time classroom attendance.”

“To keep everyone safe, steps are being taken to maintain physical distancing through the use of social groupings, lunch in classrooms and limited interaction among students and staff,” the ad reads. “To learn about other health and safety measures in our schools, please visit”

Another ad touts the government’s involvement in the creation of the back-to-school plan while saying that everyone has “a role to play in safely reopening Ontario’s schools.”

“That’s why the Ontario government asked doctors, health officials, school boards and educators to help build a comprehensive plan to keep our kids safe. Working together, our plan includes physical distancing, putting more nurses in schools, masking, enhanced cleaning and hand sanitization and other measures to ensure the wellbeing of students and school staff.”

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday afternoon, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the advertisements are critical in order to communicate with parents.

“Maybe I'm wrong but I think it's so important to communicate with parents,” the premier said.

“We won't stop communicating. And I think that's the key to the success of Ontario and the residents here. Imagine if we didn't have any ads and no one knew what was going on. That'd be terrible.”

back-to-school ads

Ford would not say how much the advertisements cost, only saying that the advertisements are part of a wider public awareness campaign strategy used throughout the pandemic about a variety of issues. The price tag of the total campaign will be presented to the financial accountability office.

Opposition leaders have argued the money spent on the advertisements could have been put to better use hiring teachers or personal protective equipment for the classrooms. In a statement, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said that Ford is “doling out a secret amount of public money on wasteful propaganda to promote his crowded classrooms scheme.”

“Mr. Ford should be listening to and responding to the legitimate fears of parents, teachers, education workers and health experts. Instead, he’s gaslighting them with ads promoting a bargain basement scheme,” Horwath said in a statement.

“Every dime spent on these partisan defensive ads should be spent on a safe September.”

Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said that one of the advertisements was released on Friday and has aired more than 500 times.

“Ford’s ads were cooked up by the same team that ordered propaganda stickers to be added at the gas pumps across Ontario and who spent millions of dollars producing illegible blue licence plates,” Del Duca said. “It’s typical of Doug Ford. Rather than investing so that our students and education workers can safely get back to the classroom, he’s spending tax-payer money to mislead Ontarians.”

Ontario advertisements for back to school

But Ford argued that all levels of government use advertising to get important messages across to the public.

“I think it’s critical that we inform the people, we inform the parents. I think it's a no brainer. It'd be terrible if we didn't run ads,” he said. “Running ads is the right thing to do.”

The Progressive Conservatives say the advertisements have been approved by the auditor general and meet current guidelines for government advertising.

Ford announces funding for new Catholic school

The advertisements were released just before Ford held a news conference in Etobicoke alongside Education Minister Stephen Lecce announcing $16 million in funding to build a new Catholic school in the area.

The funding is part of the government’s previously announced $12 billion investment meant to help build, expand and renovate schools in Ontario.

The Toronto Catholic District School Board facility will accommodate 600 new students and open up 33 more child-care spaces.

“We're building a better education system, one that will equip our students with the skills to succeed in the modern economy, including hands on learning in skilled trades, basic math skills, financial literacy and coding, regardless of race, religion or background,” Ford said.

“Every child should have a good start in life, every child should have a solid foundation for success.”