Almost 700,000 Ontario students will return to in-class learning on Monday as schools across the province gradually reopen.
In advance of their return, the Ministry of Education has revealed how much hiring has been done across all provincial school boards. A spokesperson says around 3,400 new teachers, 1,400 custodians and 620 public health nurses have been hired as part of the government’s commitment to curb the spread of COVID-19 and reduce class sizes.
Union officials, however, are questioning the Ford government’s claims they’ve invested COVID-related funds into those hirings. Laura Walton, the president of the Ontario School Board Council of Unions, says the new hires have yet to be seen by frontline staff.
Walton says when they tried to get more details on the hiring data through a Freedom of Information request back in December, they were denied with the Ministry citing “cabinet secrecy”.
“I’m not sure why it is so difficult to provide to us exactly board-by-board how many people have been hired,” said Walton. “There should be some accountability here, not just a matter of money going out or money being claimed but exactly how much money is being used, where are those hires, what do those hires entail.”
Schools in Durham, Halton and Hamilton are among those set to reopen starting next week while schools in Toronto, Peel and York will remain closed at least until Feb. 15.