Justin Trudeau – Jagmeet Singh calls on Justin Trudeau to help make schools COVID safe
Education may be a provincial responsibility, but it’s time for the federal government to help set nation-wide standards for safety in schools as students attend classes during the COVID-19 pandemic, says NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.
As Ontario prepares to announce Wednesday when students in Greater Toronto and other southern Ontario regions can return to in-person schooling, Singh said in a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that he “firmly (believes) that the circumstances call for the federal government to work with the provinces and territories to make sure reasonable standards are being met.”
Singh is urging an intergovernmental task force so provinces and territories can share their successes, “drive policy coherence across Canada” and to “assess whether the federal government has provided sufficient support to the provinces for the safe reopening of schools.”
He said “I also believe that the federal government has a responsibility to work with the provinces and territories to make sure federal funds from the Safe Restart Agreement are being used effectively and appropriately. Most importantly, I believe that we have a responsibility to Canadian families to do everything we can to get this right.”
Schools in northern Ontario have already opened their doors, and those in four public health regions — Ottawa, London, eastern Ontario and southwest Ontario — resumed in-person classes this week.
In all other southern Ontario regions, students remain learning at home because of higher rates of COVID in their communities.
Across the country, Ontario remains the only province where a number of schools remain closed to in-person learning. Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said Monday they can open their doors when caseloads come down, and local health officials agree enough health and safety measures are in place.
Singh said in his letter that until schools “are safe from COVID-19, we will never be able to control this virus and get our economy running again.”
Last Friday, Trudeau announced the government’s second round of COVID funding for schools, up to $1 billion for things like improved ventilation in classrooms, PPE and cleaning.