Queen’s Park Visit

On Tuesday, May 28, 2024 the Co-Executive Directors and Directors of the Ontario Association of Parents in Catholic Education (OAPCE), representing different regions from across the province visited Queen’s Park in Toronto for an unforgettable day of advocacy for Catholic Education.  

OAPCE members were seated in the packed gallery as visitors to the assembly. Upon arrival, they were immediately immersed in a momentous first of its kind event unfolding in the province. Indigenous communities from Sioux Lookout in Northern Ontario had gathered, with their MP, Sol Mamakwa.  He later delivered an address to Parliament in the Anishininiimowen (Oji-Cree) language. The heartfelt speech garnered standing ovations, with even Premier Ford extending congratulations and reaffirming commitments to address long-standing issues, notably the addition of 76 long-term care beds in the northern region. 

Throughout the day, the OAPCE Directors were witness to debates and discussions on various topics. Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, addressed criticisms from Liberal members regarding limited and selective school reconstructions in the GTA. His response underlined the government’s unwavering support for educational infrastructure projects. Minister Lecce highlighted a recent announcement of a new French elementary school in Scarborough, emphasizing the government’s dedication to investing in education across party lines. OAPCE felt very privileged to observe the legislature in session and to witness first hand how Education is debated on the floor.

Following the parliamentary proceedings, OAPCE Directors were invited to meet with Minister Lecce and Premier Ford. Minister Lecce spoke directly with individual OAPCE Directors, as he listened intently to their concerns and ideas. Directors were also greeted by MPP Christine Hogarth, MPP Aris Babikian and MPP Billy Pang. 

Minister Lecce then led everyone to the Premier’s office where OAPCE members had an audience with Premier Doug Ford, Minister Lecce and MPP Michael Ford. During this interaction, they were commended for their tireless efforts in promoting Catholic education in Ontario. The Premier was also presented with an appreciation plaque dedicated to his support of OAPCE as the recognized parent association in the province of Ontario. He was very appreciative of the gesture, especially with the plaque. Despite his busy schedule, he extended warm hospitality to each one of the Directors and invited each one to take individual photos with him in his official Premier’s chair!  

As we were leaving the Premier was very insistent of his support for our organization and offered his contact information to the Co-Executive Directors to “call on him for anything you need”, and to keep doing the work that we all do to advocate for parents in the province. 

During lunch in the Queen’s Park Regional directors continued to network with local MPPs including Vic Fedeli.

It was an exciting experience for all OAPCE Directors, the experience provided valuable insights into the workings of the provincial legislature, many of whom had never experienced a visit to Queen’s Park in the past.  Everyone left Queen’s Park feeling energized about the progress being made in support of Catholic Education in Ontario. 

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