Lecce’s Plan to Catch Up draws ire of education crtics

PECI Coach Rob Garden speaks to his players at a game against Nicholson back in early March 2020. Extra curricular activities such as secondary school athletics is being advocated for by Minister of Education Stephen Leece. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)




After two years of pandemic disruptions, the Ontario government launched on Monday its Plan to Catch Up for the 2022-23 school year. 

The plan, which is supported by the government’s historic investments in education, starts with students back in classrooms, on time, with the full school experience including extracurriculars like clubs, band and field trips.

“Our government is looking ahead as we remain squarely focused on ensuring students receive the best stable learning experience possible, and that starts with them being in class, on time, with all of the experiences students deserve,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “We have a plan for students to catch up, including the largest tutoring program in Ontario’s history, a modernized skills-focused curriculum to prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow, and enhanced mental health supports.”

Ontario’s Plan to Catch Up includes five key components:

  • Getting kids back in classrooms in September, on time, with a full school experience that includes extra-curriculars like clubs, band, and field trips;
  • New tutoring supports to fill gaps in learning;
  • Preparing students for the jobs of tomorrow;
  • Providing more money to build schools and improve education; and
  • Helping students with historic funding for mental health supports.

But according to the Ontario NDP,  students need more help to get back on track — academically and emotionally — but Education Minister Lecce’s plan  indicates the Conservative government will not invest even one dollar more in Ontario’s kids. 

Lecce “announced” a five-point plan — but every last dollar was a re-announcement of the old, inadequate plan.

“Teachers and education workers are being laid off,” said NDP Education critic Marit Stiles. “Our kids’ class sizes are far too big, and growing. Children still aren’t getting anywhere near enough support for their mental health. And teachers and education workers are leaving because they’re feeling disrespected by the PC government. What we needed to hear from Stephen Lecce today is that the government is increasing the education budget — not that they’re holding the line. This funding wasn’t good enough when the Conservative government announced it months ago, and it’s not good enough today.”

Based on the budget the Conservatives ran on showed the government will spend $2.7 billion less than inflation over the next three years, including a whopping $1.3-billion shortfall in Education.

Ontario’s opposition party also noted what was new in Monday’s announcement was Lecce’s claim he won’t tolerate teachers and education workers refusing to do extra unpaid work. Teachers and education workers do not get paid for extracurricular activities — like coaching sports or supervising clubs. Stiles said threats aren’t the way to encourage staff to volunteer.

“Teachers and education workers volunteer to coach sports or lead clubs because they love their students,” Stiles said. “The way to ensure they continue to do that volunteer work is by paying them fairly, and investing in lower class sizes and more supports for students.”

To view the whole Plan to Catch Up please visit https://files.ontario.ca/edu-plan-to-catch-up-en-2022-07-25.pdf?utm_source=newsroom&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=%2Fen%2Frelease%2F1002204%2Fontario-launches-its-plan-to-catch-up&utm_term=media