On Wednesday, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath called on the government to work with the NDP to get more help to Thunder Bay to stop the spread of COVID-19, including in schools.
Thunder Bay–Atikokan MPP Judith Monteith-Farrell and NDP Education critic Marit Stiles joined Horwath in pushing the Ford government to support urgent changes the NDP has proposed to make schools safer.
"In Thunder Bay, nearly 600 students and 55 staff are self-isolating at home right now due to school outbreaks," Monteith-Farrell said. "Teachers and educators are overwhelmed and families are worried. We need the government to provide the resources to make schools safer."
On Tuesday, Lakehead Public Schools passed a motion asking the Thunder Bay District Health Unit and the province to move all schools at the board to remote learning for at least two weeks.
"Ford has continually refused calls to cap class sizes, ramp up asymptomatic in-school testing and improve schools' ventilation," said Stiles. "Now we have the added threat of variants. The goal should be to invest in school safety so that they don’t have to close again – but across Ontario, the Ford government is still relying on a wing and a prayer to keep them open."
The Official Opposition used a unanimous consent motion to call on all MPPs to pass a motion Wednesday to cap class sizes at 15, institute a comprehensive in-school COVID-19 testing program and improve air quality in schools.
“We really believe in the positive solutions we’re bringing to the table,” said Monteith-Farrell. “Thunder Bay needs the Ford government to get on board, and start putting public health ahead of money and politics.”
As of Wednesday, there are 401 schools in Ontario with at least one case of COVID-19, and 16 schools have been completely shuttered because of outbreaks.