Liberal Party Leader takes another swing at the Premier over school opening

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

August 4th, 2020



He may not have a seat in the Legislature but Steven Del Duca, Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party, is playing political hardball and using the returning students to school issue as the baseball bat with which he is battering the Premier.

Last week he put forward a plan to get the schools opened opened in September that put student safety at the top of the list.

This week he is calling what the province announced on Thursday as the Premier’s “half-baked plan to reopen schools” which Del Duca claims “is nothing short of a catastrophe for parents, students, and teachers. The plan falls short of even the basic standards set out by Sick Kids and blatantly ignores recommendations from school boards, teachers, education workers, healthcare associations, and parents.

“Parents in Halton have been waiting anxiously for a plan to reopen schools safely – Doug Ford gave them one written on the back of a napkin,” said Del Duca. “None of the concerns parents raised have been addressed. None.”

Doug Ford’s school reopening plan gets a failing grade on every measure. The SickKids’ report, released last week, makes it clear that a proper plan must include smaller class sizes and a significant amount of new caretakers (custodians and cleaning staff).

“The Ontario Liberal Party took this advice seriously and, in consultation with experts in health care and education, released their Plan to Help Our Students last week.

Steven Del Duca

Steven Del Duca, Leader of the Liberal Party in Ontario

“To reopen safely, the Liberal plan would fund 650 new classrooms in Halton, which are necessary to allow for physical distancing. Under Doug Ford’s Conservatives, there will be no new spaces at all.

“The Liberal plan would also support 710 new teaching positions in Halton to help keep class sizes small. Doug Ford’s plan only supports 14.

“To keep classes and schools clean, the Liberal plan would also create 320 new caretaker positions in Halton. The Conservatives will only create 36. That’s about 1 for every 3 schools.

Miller engaging a prent at Central - ugly

Director of Education Stuart Miller facing an irate parents during the Central School closing issue. Central prevailed and is still open.

Del Duca adds that: “This plan continues to make it clear that Doug Ford is treating our students, their parents and everyone involved in the public education system as an afterthought. What Doug Ford gave us isn’t a plan to safely reopen schools – what he gave us was irresponsible. It doesn’t provide the smaller class sizes we need or enough resources to keep schools clean. It’s a dangerous roll of the dice with our kids’ safety.”

What Del Duca doesn’t include in his plan is where is anyone going to find the 650 classrooms that he maintains are needed. The space just doesn’t exist. As for the number of teachers – the Halton Board does not as yet know how many of the existing teachers are going to opt to return to a classroom.

Halton District School Board Director of Education Stuart Miller is surveying the teacher compliment to determine how many are not prepared to go into classrooms. Miller has said that he believes there are enough supply teachers who will teach in classrooms.


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6 comments to Liberal Party Leader takes another swing at the Premier over school opening

  • Jim Young

    Del Duca removes any doubt whatsoever that when Conservatives let you down, the answer is not Conservative Lite but NDP. Compare Del Duca v Horvath? Nor should Ljberal disappointment lead to unhinged Tories. Again compare Scheer v Jagmeet . Then tell me who wins on policy, integrity and general political presence..?

  • Blair Smith

    First a disclosure – I am an ex provincial bureaucrat and was never openly politically active because I believed in the tradition of a neutral civil service. I still do. However, now that I’m retired I can voice my opinion and from a position of some experience. I joined the Ontario Liberal Party this year because of Steven Del Duca. Indeed, I wanted to influence the leadership selection and do whatever was necessary to ensure that he was not successful. His uneven history as a member of the Wynne cabinet, his sense of entitlement and his demonstrated problems with obvious conflict of interest situations as the Minister of Transportation made his possible leadership completely unacceptable to me. So, I am very disappointed with his election and feel that the Liberals have lost a remarkable opportunity to renew the party. Instead, we have an extension of one of the worst leaderships in recent memory and Mr. Del Duca’s plan for returning Ontario students to the classroom is a prime example of a continuing lack of vision. What it amounts to, quite simply, is buying votes by pandering to the teachers and the education establishment – a classic Liberal strategy that kept them in office for over 15 years and, incidentally, almost bankrupted the province without the expected return on investment. And who is going to pay for his plan? There is but one taxpayer – a lesson that the Liberals (and most politicians) still need to learn. Moreover, how would it be implemented in any reasonable timeframe? Given that Mr. Del Duca need not worry about the practicalities of implementation, this is opportunism of the very worst sort and what I would expect of his government if elected. I am disappointed but certainly not surprised.

  • Lynn Crosby

    Ahh, yes, Steven Del Duca. The leader of the Ontario Liberal Party, and a Minister in the disastrous Wynne government that was decimated at the polls.

    Everything I know of Del Duca shows me that he has a shocking sense of entitlement – from his meddling and improperly influencing Metrolinx while Minister of Transportation (!!), to recently putting a swimming pool in his backyard, without proper permits, on Conservation Authority land and expecting the Conservation Authority to just hand over the land to him. It is, I imagine, this same sense of entitlement that extends to the Ontario Liberal party itself. Why else would the party think they should choose Del Duca as Leader of the party? What a colossal wasted opportunity for them to not come out with fresh (non-Wynne government) faces. Why not choose someone who could criticize the Ford government with some form of credibility?

    Del Duca is part of the government that had 15 years to properly fund the school system – in fact McGuinty originally ran on that premise – and they did not. Instead, they gave us more school closings, maintained the deeply flawed funding formula, continued the disastrous PAR processes, and let schools deteriorate in such a manner that I think the worst fear of sending the students and staff back to schools is the terrible condition of many of them, when we know that poor ventilation of indoor spaces spreads the virus. How easy it is for Del Duca, from the sidelines, to tell us what his party would do. Unfortunately since he and his party have no credibility anymore, the whole plan is meaningless. The other Liberal candidates who ran against him in the leadership race seemed to do it not to try to win, but to get name recognition for the next election, and to hope to have Del Duca choose them for significant roles. It was all one big happy family, blindly publicly celebrating Wynne as if she didn’t go down in one of the biggest defeats in Ontario election history. At this point, I’d vote for Ford before I’d vote for Del Duca, and I’m no fan of Ford.

  • Hans Jacobs

    Re: “What Del Duca doesn’t include in his plan is where is anyone going to find the 650 classrooms that he maintains are needed. The space just doesn’t exist.”

    If Pearson and Bateman were re-opened, would that create some needed space?

  • Phillip Wooster

    Del Duca is a typical Liberal–loves to spend $$$$$. As I remember, he was trying to influence Metrolinx to spend $100 million in his riding when he was an MPP as part of the free-spending Wynn government. School reopening is not an easy decision no matter what government is in power and we can see this across the provinces and indeed across the developed world. I think the Ford government has tried to strike a balance–the European experience tends to show that there is little risk with very young students but that this risk does increase, particularly into the teens. In Halton, the decision to basically split classes into two with students attending every second day is likely the best that can be hoped for–it allows for social distancing with students wearing masks and with the current state of the pandemic, this seems like a reasonable attempt at reducing the risk of infection. Is it ideal? NO–much will depend on how well students are required to follow the guidelines and let’s hope this is better than the non-enforcement of other school rules which is endemic to schools these days. Nor is it necessarily good for student learning–it now places much more emphasis on independent learning which is not a bad thing, but not all students have the self-discipline to make this work.

  • PClarke

    Officially there is not a Liberal Party of Ontario, they were decimated at the last election and lost official party status. This is the platform of one man. Your personal platform is just as relevant as Del Duca’s.