QUEEN'S PARK--Ontario NDP Education critic Marit Stiles re-tabled a bill Monday to establish a Child and Youth Recovery Action plan to lessen the pandemic's impacts on children and youth, especially those disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
The bill would create a Child and Youth Post-Pandemic Recovery Secretariat and Action Plan to ensure policies and programs supporting the well-being of children and youth are centered in the post-pandemic recovery.
"Since I tabled this bill over a year ago, the impacts of this pandemic on kids' and young peoples' mental and emotional health and academic development have been even more profound. They have been disproportionately felt by young women and girls, Black and Indigenous youth, racialized youth, 2SLGBTQIA+ youth, youth with disabilities and those from low-income backgrounds," Stiles said
"The Ford government has failed to address children and youth in its COVID-19 response. Yet experts warn that without a clear plan to mitigate the damages, there will be lasting consequences for the next generation socially and economically."
Doug Ford held back funds and allowed a piecemeal back-to-school plan that has put students and educators at risk, with students jerked between in-person and remote learning. Ford's 2019 budget cut funding for OSAP and student financial assistance by about 30 per cent, with universities forced to close and student job opportunities vanishing.
Ford’s conservatives cut $69 million from children and youth mental health services in 2019. An estimated 28,000 kids are waiting to receive mental health care thanks to years of government underfunding.
"We need a strategy to mitigate the damages of COVID-19 to this generation of young people," Stiles said. "We must centre the experiences of children and youth and ensure they benefit from all legislation related to the post-pandemic recovery."