Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday May 10, 2022
Ontario Liberals pledge they would bring back Grade 13 on an optional basis
The Ontario Liberals would reintroduce an optional Grade 13 to allow students to catch up on learning lost during the COVID-19 pandemic, leader Steven Del Duca said on the campaign trail Friday.
The measure that would be brought in if the Liberals were elected next month would not be a “victory lap,” the party leader said, and would be available for a minimum of four years.
“This is going to be a structured option for our kids,” Del Duca said in a park near a high school in Kitchener, Ont.
“Structured so that they can get more mental health supports, so that they can learn more about personal finances, so that they can learn more about civics and citizen engagement and all of the tools that they need to be able to catch up from the past couple of years.”
Del Duca said his government would work with teachers, principals, school councils and boards to develop curricula for the extra year.
The program would cost $295 million, he said.
Grade 9 student Tessa Jagiellowicz, who was among several teens the Liberal leader glad-handed with before his announcement, said she’d benefit from an extra year of school.
“I feel like Grade 13 would be like closure for me to get a full normal four years,” she said.
Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford, who is seeking re-election in June, was asked twice about the idea to bring back an optional Grade 13 but didn’t directly answer.
“We’re pouring money into education,” Ford said in Bowmanville, Ont. “We’re building new schools … and repairing them to a tune of $14 billion and we’re delivering better education with more funding into education.”
Ontario was the lone province to have a fifth year of high school until it was eliminated under the leadership of Progressive Conservative premier Mike Harris.
Grade 13, which was officially called the Ontario Academic Credit — known colloquially as OAC — began being phased out with Grade 9 students in 1999 and was eliminated in 2003. The so-called “double cohort” year saw two grades graduate at the same time. (Global News)