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'The word education wasn't used': Critics say Ford's throne speech abandoned education

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TORONTO -

The Ford government had an opportunity to reset its roadmap on Monday in a throne speech that was set to describe a fresh agenda in advance of a provincial election.

While Premier Doug Ford’s throne speech, delivered by Lt.-Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell, largely focused on economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, critics say the speech entirely neglected education and child-care.

“The word education wasn’t used once in the speech,” Ontario Liberal leader, Steven Del Duca, said in a news release on Monday.

A pledge to establish $10 a day child-care was on the minds of parents, especially working mothers, Del Duca noted, “but they were abandoned.”

The federal government promised to spend $30 billion over the next five years to cut child-care costs to an average of $10 a day across the country. Ontario has yet to sign on to the deal.

Ontario's education minister, Stephen Lecce, has said he is open to an affordable child-care deal, but that it must address the province’s “unique” circumstances, including seeing Ontario’s already existing full-day child-care program reflected.

Del Duca said students and their families were hoping for promises that would ensure safe classrooms and address the loss of learning throughout the pandemic.

The province’s Green Party was also aiming to see education highlighted in Ford’s throne speech.

“Almost 1 in every 5 schools across the province has COVID cases, and the recent Science Table modelling clearly shows that cases in children are increasing,” Mike Schreiner, Ontario’s Green Party leader, said in a news release on Friday, prior to the province’s declarations.

“Where are the rapid tests? Where are the lower class sizes? Where is the commitment to keeping our kids safe and schools open?” he said. “These are the types of questions that need to be urgently addressed.” 

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