Ford's Sex-ed Consultations Need a Rethink






Have you read the news lately? The media are reporting that the majority of Ontario residents who participated in Doug Ford’s sex-ed “consultation” want to keep the Kathleen Wynne sex-ed. To read the article, click here. This is all based on a “freedom of information” request for submissions in August when the online consultation process hadn’t even started.

So is it true? After the Dec. 15th consultation deadline passed, what is the result?

All we know so far is what Doug Ford has said: that 35,000 responses were received in this autumn’s consultation process, and that might include responses from what Ford refers to as “certain groups” – a thinly veiled shot at the teachers’ unions. Frankly, that’s a very small number.

Recall that PAFE was able to engage over 35,000 Ontarians about the sex-ed in a few short weeks in the summer through our legislative petition. And we don’t have anywhere near the resources the government has! Furthermore, we STOPPED COLLECTING SIGNATURES IN SEPTEMBER and still collected more than 35,000 actual signatures. 

I hope the government is including our petitions on sex-ed in their process because it seems that PAFE’s petition effort got the same number of responses as the government’s 4-month consultation process! Click here to see MPP Toby Barrett read our petition aloud in the legislature.

So if it is true – that only 35,000 Ontarians participated in the government’s process (not counting PAFE’s petition) – then Ford has a problem.

Aftrall, hasn’t Ford been saying that this will be the biggest and widest and most comprehensive “consultation” … ever?  Hmmmmm. Not quite.

Think about it: apart from PAFE’s emails and flyers (and, perhaps, Campaign Life Coalition), did you see the consultation advertised anywhere?

If you or someone in your household is a member of one of Ontario’s teachers’ unions, then you certainly did hear about the consultations. But other than that?

And of these 35,000 who participated in the government process – how many of them are actually parents? According to the Ontario Ministry of Education website, there are over 2 million children attending publicly-funded schools this year. That gives you an idea of how few parents actually participated in these consultations.

Ford’s online portal was open to anyone with an email address – not just parents. This isn’t necessarily a problem, but why did the government not make any special effort to solicit the opinions of parents? Shouldn’t the opinion of parents be of greater interest to the government than any random person with an email address?

If the government was truly interested in hearing from parents, why didn’t they send home a take-home survey to parents through the schools? Shouldn’t a consultation called actually target parents? And for those parents who homeschool, couldn’t the government find a way to consult with them directly?

But I have some good news for Doug Ford: It’s not too late!

The government can still turn around this poorly conceived and executed consultation process, and actually engage in meaningful consultation with parents. The government should send a survey to every parent in Ontario with a unique barcode. They should do it in January. Then they can actually say they’ve consulted with the parents. 

I will keep you informed of this topic in the coming weeks as more information becomes available. 

For the family,
Tanya Granic Allen