Ontario Premier Doug Ford said his patience for Ontario’s education unions is "running low" as teachers bring forward concerns about the province’s school reopening plan, according to CTV News.
Ford asked teachers to "step up" in the same way that other front-line workers stepped up during the pandemic, when speaking with reporters in Ottawa.
"We have the store clerks at the peak of the pandemic checking out hundreds and hundreds of people. We have the incredible front-line health-care workers, doctors, nurses through the peak of the pandemic, dealing with COVID patients," Ford said. "Now, it's time teachers step up, everyone else has sacrificed."
Ford noted that he does differentiate between actual front-line teachers and their unions, adding that union leaders need to "get with the program."
Some controversy was raised by social media users after the premier’s comments and Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca was among them.
"What is Doug Ford asking them to sacrifice? Their lives?" tweeted Del Duca.
"PSWs [person support workers] caught COVID and died because Ford didn’t give them PPE [personal protective equipment]. Now he won’t give students and teachers a safe reopening."
Ford often refers to his back-to-school plan which has been approved by Dr. David Williams, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, as "the safest and the most cautious plan in the entire country."
About $350 million was allocated by the Ford government for prevention measures such as infection control, in Ontario high schools.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday announced another $2 billion for upgrades in provinces back-to-school plans—roughly $762 million for Ontario.
According to Ontario’s education minister, the funds will be used to hire public health nurses, custodians, and teachers. They will also be used to improve classroom ventilation and physical distancing measures on school buses.