Hundreds of students gathered at Queen’s Park on Thursday in protest against Bill 115, the ‘Putting Students First Act‘.
Students have become more vocal as the war of wills between the government and teachers, currently locked in a labour dispute centred on Bill 115, continues to drag on.
Alanah Rouse, a protester and a student at Oakwood Secondary School, said that her life has been altered because of the bill. She said that she has been let down as a student and is determined to fight back.
“I go to community centres, so that’s my only my way of getting help with my homework,” said Rouse. “We want our extra-curricular activities back [and we deserve better]… it’s just letting us down.”
Jason Vaughn, a father who accompanied his daughter to the protest, said that he is glad that high school students today are taking the initiative to speak for themselves.
“An option would be to sit back and let the situation play out itself, but they aren’t doing that,” said Vaughn. “They aren’t wasting time being distracted by Facebook or Twitter…it’s good to see this.”
Progressive Conservative MPP for Nepean-Carleton, Lisa MacLeod, whose party supported passage of Bill 115, addressed the students:
“I think the message today should be to those union leaders who are threatening to fine their members or naming and shaming them in union publications – that that has got to stop. There has got to be a better way,” said Macleod.
Protests against Bill 115 continue to dog Ontario’s labour scene, with more strikes looming in the last week of school before Christmas.
According to the Toronto District School Board, elementary school teachers, are expected to strike on Tuesday and teachers in Halton teachers expected to walk on Wedsnesday.
“Education is the greatest equalizer in this country,” Macleod said. “It’s the greatest equalizer in Ontario. It allows students to participate in sporting activities, drama, writing, music courses that their parents may not otherwise be able to afford.
We have to do what is in the best interest of everyone involved.”