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Our Statement Regarding ETFO's School Survey and Premier Ford's Response

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Hamilton, Ontario - May 16, 2023

Yesterday, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) released the results of a survey that had been done to draw attention to the government's chronic underfunding of Ontario's public education system. While attention-grabbing, their usage of the word "violence" in their statement is problematic. Looking at many of the responses in social media, some people are blaming students and parents - not the government's lack of support - for the rise in incidents. This is disheartening. Not only have children had to deal with unprecented events over the past couple of years but they are still underdeveloped neurologically and learning how to self-regulate. Describing "challenging" behaviours as "violent" only circumvents the real issue: kids in schools are unbelievably overstressed and "acting out" in response.

When asked to comment, Premier Ford made some remarks that were flippant and disrespectful. This is unacceptable and disregards the problems that exist.

We wholeheartedly believe that students and educators deserve a school environment where they feel safe and are supported. However, it's also important to use wording that better describes what is happening. The disruptions that occur are difficult to handle and witness for everyone involved. But, referring it as "violence" frames it as something that is done with premeditation and intent. However, students - especially those who are neurodivergent and/or disabled - do not intend to cause harm. They are struggling in an overcrowded environment that is not meeting their basic needs with staff who are too ill-equipped to support them.

Public education should be a non-partisan issue. However, years of underfunding by this government and its predecessors have eroded its quality. COVID-related lockdowns have significantly impacted the mental well-being of students and educators. The effects of which will be felt for years to come. Rather than provide the resources schools desparately need to support students and educators, the government continually fails to engage and come up with effective solutions.

For more information, please contact our team at

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