Ontario government backs off class sizes, mandatory e-learning

Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce speaks during a news conference on Tuesday, March 3, 2020. Lecce says the government is making a policy change and will back off changing class sizes and mandatory e-learning. (Ontario Parliamentary Channel via Newswatch Group)

TORONTO – The Ontario government is backing off an increase in class sizes and mandatory e-learning as it works to secure collective agreements with teacher unions.

During a snap news conference Tuesday afternoon, Education Minister Stephen Lecce says the government is making a policy change and will keep class sizes at 23 students for the 2020-2021 school year.

The minister added that there will not be “significant changes” to class sizes.

“Enough is enough,” Lecce said during the news conference. He said the government has been “reasonable” and has tabled “positive, reasonable” offers and called on the unions to back off strike escalation. “This is a resolution to get to a deal.”

Lecce said that having parents decide whether their children should do online learning (e-learning) is a “reasonable, practical solution to the impasse.” Parents will have an opt-out for the online learning.

Hours before the news conference, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association said it would be willing to accept salary and benefits offered by the province in exchange for lower class sizes and the cancelling of mandatory e-learning.