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Press Releases 2004

December 14, 2004

For Immediate Release

Education Critic Responds to Education Minister's

Anti-Bullying Announcement

Following is the response MPP Frank Klees prepared, anticipating that Education Minister Gerard Kennedy would make a Minister's Statement in the Legislature following his earlier announcement and photo opportunity on his government's plans to deal with bullying in Ontario schools.

Klees was disappointed that the Minister did not consider this issue merits time and consideration in the legislature.

 

"This Minister of Education has been truant in his responsibilities to ensure a safe school environment.

Today's announcement comes too late for too many students and parents, and lacks credibility given this Minister's track record on this issue.

This Minister and his Liberal colleagues voted against the " Safe Schools Act " passed by the former Conservative government.

That legislation provided the very framework this Minister is announcing with great fanfare today. That framework mandated the establishment of "Safe School Committees" for every school in the province, and one of the roles of those committees was to "AUDIT" the safety of the schools.

Rather than waste his time developing junk food regulations, this Minister should have recognized the serious issue of bullying in the schools for which he has responsibility. And instead of advertising an "anti-bullying hotline", this Minister should have been working to ensure that the provisions of the Safe Schools Act were being implemented in every school in the province.

The Minister should have been assuming his responsibilities by ensuring that every student in this province knows that their "hotline" for protection from intimidation and bullying is directly to their principal or the nearest teacher in their school.

That was the intent of the " Safe Schools Act " and that was one of the objectives of the Professional Learning Program for teachers.... A professional development program through which teachers had access to training that provided guidance for such issues as bullying behaviour.

                                                                                                

This Minister of Education is eliminating that professional development program through legislation he considers more important than the safety of students.

Speaker, this Minister and this government has failed vulnerable students by ignoring this issue over the more than one year they have had the responsibility of government.

And now, we see the overlaying of yet another Task Force, another Study and yet another Program.

We don't need more programs, we DO need to give students and parents the confidence that this issue will be taken seriously by those in authority, and we DO need to give principals and teachers the responsibility and the authority to take swift action to protect vulnerable students and ensure a safe and secure environment for every student in this province."

-30-

 

For further information:

Frank Klees, MPP

416-325-7316