Students across Ontario walked out of their classrooms on Thursday in protest of planned education cuts by the Ontario government.
Over 100,000 students from 700 schools were expected to participate in the walkout, which got underway at 1:15 p.m.
The movement Students at @bloorci walled out and joined teenagers from 700 high schools across Ontario protesting changes to education by @OntarioPCParty @fordnation #studentssayno #ONPoli pic.twitter.com/723LRdxefD
— Adrian Ghobrial (@CityAdrian) April 4, 2019
The movement is to protest what organizers call the Ford government’s “attack on public education” which they say will be “extremely detrimental to students on both a long-term and widespread scale.”
The protest comes in the wake of announced changes to the education system including the slashing of almost $100-million in education job funding, the loss of 18,000 teaching jobs, revamping the health and physical education curriculum and an almost 30 per cent increase in high school class sizes.
Premier Doug Ford addressed the planned walkout during the legislature’s Question Period on Thursday, calling the students, “pawns.”
“Stop using the students as a bunch of pawns because that’s what the union bosses are doing right now,” Ford said.
A co-organizer of the movement, Grade 12 student Frank Hong, said, “These cuts will deeply hurt us in terms of the online courses, the cuts to teachers and the class sizes. In every one of these points, students are going to suffer.”
Meadowvale Secondary School was one of the first schools to walkout at 9 a.m. with over 200 students participating. Around 175 students continued on for an hour and walked down to PC MPP Nina Tangri’s office in Mississauga.
WATCH: Students from Mississauga’s Meadowvale Secondary School talk about their efforts to speak to Conservative MPP Nina Tangri
The students say since they were not allowed inside and no one came out to talk to them, they decided to keep protesting outside.
“We may not be able to vote right now, but we are still doing something and that’s what matters,” a student told CityNews.
Students also shared why they walked out and the issues that matter to them.
“I’m out here because, for me, I’m a drama student, I’m a music student, I’m a visual arts student, and the thought of my younger cousins not being able to get that same exposure, honestly, saddens me,” one said. “And the idea that our OSAP is going to be cut is just sickening.”
“Cuts for autistic programs, I say, are really sad.” another added.
In addition, students expressed their disdain for the potential mandatory online programs.
WATCH: Students take protest over planned education cuts to lawn of Queen’s Park