McGuinty government opens school doors to children of recent immigrants

Archived Release

McGuinty government opens school doors to children of recent immigrants

Ministry of Education

New Legislation Would Waive School Fees QUEEN'S PARK, May 4 - The McGuinty government is opening up school doors for children of recent immigrants with new legislation that would waive their school fees, Education Minister Gerard Kennedy announced today. "Every child has the right to learn," said Kennedy. "This legislation will rescue these children from administrative limbo and allow them to be in school regardless of their parents' immigration status." Kennedy introduced legislation that would expand the current list of exemptions in the Education Act to allow children of certain classes of temporary residents in Canada to attend school in Ontario without paying fees. If passed, approximately 250 immigrant children and their families will benefit. New exemptions would include: - Children whose parents have applied for permanent residence status to Citizenship and Immigration Canada and plan to stay in the country, - Children whose parents are studying at a publicly funded Ontario university or college. Currently, the act requires school boards to charge fees - which can be $7,000 to $10,000 annually per child - for temporary residents. The act includes several exemptions, including exchange students, children of parents with work permits and children of diplomats. Boards would now be able to claim funding for these students under the Grants for Student Needs. There have been several cases where children recently arrived in Canada are kept at home for extended periods of time because their families do not have proper immigration status and cannot afford to pay fees. "This legislation is an impressive step forward in ensuring that every child's basic human right to go to school is respected in Ontario," said Albert Koehl, a founding member of the Education Rights Task Force. "We applaud Minister Kennedy for standing up for these vulnerable, often forgotten, children in our community." Many of the government's education initiatives already underway are helping thousands of students across Ontario, including reduced class size in the primary grades and programs to help struggling high school students. "There are also some niche education needs that should be addressed - and this is one of them," added Kennedy. "If we are to build better citizens and a stronger society, our education system needs to be one that embraces all Ontarians, especially newcomers to our province." Disponible en fran├žais. www.edu.gov.on.ca www.resultsontario.gov.on.caFor further information: Contacts: Amanda Alvaro, Minister's Office, (416) 325-2632, (416) 509-5696 (cell); Wilma Davis, Communications Branch, (416) 325-6730; Public Inquiries: (416) 325-2929 or 1-800-387-5514; TTY: 1-800-263-2892