Ontario Government Releases COVID-19 Back-To-School Ad Campaign Despite Criticism from Opposition

The Ontario Government is currently investing in several advertisements which they say will help inform parents and members of the public about the health measures that will be in place as students return to school this fall. 

The advertisements will be running on the radio in both English and French as well as in print advertisements. 

Through one of the advertisements, the province reiterates that elementary students will be in class five days a week while secondary students will start the year in an adaptive model with “part-time classroom attendance”.  

“To keep everyone safe, steps are being taken to maintain physical distancing through the use of social groupings, lunch in classrooms and limited interaction among students and staff,” read one of the ads.

 “To learn about other health and safety measures in our schools, please visit Ontario.ca/ReopeningSchools”.

Another ad mentions the government’s involvement in the creation of the back-to-school plan while saying that everyone has a “role to play in safely reopening Ontario’s Schools”. 

“That’s why the Ontario government asked doctors, health officials, school boards and educators to help build a comprehensive plan to keep our kids safe. Working together, our plan includes physical distancing, putting more nurses in schools, masking, enhanced cleaning and hand sanitization and other measures to ensure the wellbeing of students and school staff” described the advertisement. 

The back-to-school advertisement campaigns have prompted criticism from opposition parties with many saying that the ads do not tell parents much that they don’t already know. 

Additionally, opposition leaders have argued the money spent on the advertisements could have been put to better use such as hiring teachers or purchasing personal protective equipment for the classrooms. 

In a statement, New Democratic Party (NDP) Leader Andrea Horwath said that Premier Ford is “doling out a secret amount of public money on wasteful propaganda to promote his crowded classroom schemes”. 

“Mr. Ford should be listening to and responding to the legitimate fears of parents, teachers, education workers and health experts. Instead, he’s gaslighting them with ads promoting a bargain-basement scheme,” said the NDP Leader in a statement.

“Every dime spent on these partisan defensive ads should be spent on a safe September.”

On the other hand, Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said that one of the advertisements was released on Friday and has aired more than 500 times. 

“Ford’s ads were cooked up by the same team that ordered propaganda stickers to be added at the gas pumps across Ontario and who spent millions of dollars producing illegible blue licence plates,” said the Liberal Leader. 

“It’s typical of Doug Ford. Rather than investing so that our students and education workers can safely get back to the classroom, he’s spending tax-payer money to mislead Ontarians.”

Addressing the criticisms from the provincial government’s daily press conference, Premier Ford accused the opposition leaders of “playing politics”. 

“Imagine if we didn’t have any ads and nobody knew what was going on? That would be terrible,” said the Premier. 

“I think it’s critical that we inform the people, we inform the parents. I think it’s a no brainer. It’d be terrible if we didn’t run ads. We inform the people, we inform the parents,” Premier Ford said of the campaign. 

“I think it’s a no brainer … Running ads is the right thing to do, we’re going to continue running ads.”

Additionally, Premier Ford has said that the Progressive Conservatives have had the advertisements approved by the Auditor General and meets the current guidelines for government advertising. 

The announcement today came after Premier Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced a $16 million funding to build a new Catholic school in the Etobicoke area. 

The funding is part of the government’s previously announced $12 billion investment meant to help build, expand and renovate schools in Ontario.

The Toronto Catholic District School Board facility will accommodate 600 new students and open up 33 more child-care spaces.

“We’re building a better education system, one that will equip our students with the skills to succeed in the modern economy, including hands-on learning in skilled trades, basic math skills, financial literacy and coding, regardless of race, religion or background,” said Premier Ford.

“Every child should have a good start in life, every child should have a solid foundation for success.”

Ontario COVID-19 Update: Province Reports 5th Day in a Row with Triple-Digit Increases in New Cases

As of Tuesday morning, health officials in Ontario are reporting 100 new cases of COVID-19, marking the fifth day in a row in which the daily number of infections has been in the triple digits. 

Health officials also confirmed an additional two deaths, bringing the total number of deceased COVID-19 patients in Ontario to 2,800.

To date, there have been 41,607 lab-confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Ontario, including deaths and recoveries.

According to Health Minister Christine Elliott, more than 20,000 tests had been conducted in the last 24 hours with 30 of Ontario’s 34 public health units reporting five infections or less. 

Tuesday’s epidemiological report, which was released later in the day “due to a slight technical delay,” shows that at least half of the COVID-19 cases were recorded in the Greater Toronto Area.

Twenty-six of the patients were from Toronto while 25 were in Peel Region and 12 in York Region. Ottawa is the only other region outside of the GTA to record more than 10 cases.

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