Public Relations Officer
Federation of Canadian Secondary Students | Fédération des élèves du secondaire au Canada (FCSS-FESC)
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 10, 2017
Well-being programmes in Ontario schools
TORONTO, ONTARIO, SEPTEMBER 10, 2017 — A new multi-year plan from Ontario’s Ministry of Education aims to improve the well-being of students, educators, and staff in Ontario’s schools, starting in September 2017. Student well-being and equity are essential components of education that the Federation of Canadian Secondary Students | Fédération des élèves du secondaire au Canada (FCSS-FESC) has strived to promote and improve. As such, this development is a welcome change that the Federation believes will benefit students across Ontario.
In the 2016-2017 school year, the ministry gathered input from thousands of students, parents, educators, partners, and community members on student well-being in schools. The feedback collectively emphasized the importance of well-being in the forms of positive relationships, a sense of community, student engagement, safety and inclusivity, mental and physical health, as well as positive sense of self. From this, a plan to promote well-being was formed, and will be executed throughout the next three years. The plan includes the allocation of $49 million to fund system-wide changes integrating well-being in all areas of education. As well, the ministry will provide increased support for initiatives targeting the broad range of factors which affect well-being in schools, whether they are physical, mental, emotional, or social.
One such initiative is School Mental Health ASSIST, a provincial support team that supports, leads, and provides resources for the promotion of student mental health and well-being across Ontario. Funding for this programme will be increased from $1 million to $6 million by the end of the three years. Dr. Kathy Short, director of School Mental Health ASSIST, says this is a “welcome investment in the well-being of all Ontario students”, and will “enhance mental health promotion and prevention efforts in schools across the province.”
Funding will also be provided to support active school transportation — for example, walking school buses and bike to school programmes, which promote physical activity. Well-being programmes in schools, such as breakfast programmes, peer mentoring programmes, and bullying prevention programmes, currently receive $6 million in funding — which is set to be doubled by the 2018-19 school year. Not only is student well-being considered, but staff well-being as well. Efforts will be made to expand and develop programmes supporting staff well-being and violence prevention in school environments. Furthermore, the plan puts a focus on improving the well-being and academic achievement of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students, through the Indigenous Education Strategy.
“As we begin this new school year, these new investments and initiatives will strengthen the well-being of all students in our schools,” said Mitzie Hunter, Ontario’s Minister of Education. She went on to explain that “students are better able to learn when they feel safe and welcome at school, and have the tools to lead their lives with confidence and resiliency.”
The FCSS-FESC firmly believes that student well-being is central to academic success and future development. In past years, the Federation’s committee for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity (EDI) has worked tirelessly towards improving student well-being, with a focus on mental health during the 2016-2017 school year. The FCSS-FESC commends the integration of education with mental and physical health, and will continue to actively promote healthy, positive learning environments for all Canadian students.
The Federation of Canadian Secondary Students | Fédération des élèves du secondaire au Canada (FCSS-FESC) aims to deliver the student voice to education stakeholders, when it is often forgotten in daily discourse. We are a non-partisan, not-for-profit organisation that is led completely by youth. Together, we are the largest student alliance of its kind in Canada. Our programmes supplement public education with networking events, leadership opportunities, peer mentorship, and conferences. Our events are designed to guide Canadian youth of today and ensure their successful tomorrow, while working to improve education today.
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