Ontario Acting to Combat Antisemitism in Schools

Published on July 05, 2021

Province’s Partnership with Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies will Fight Hate and Discrimination


News Release

TORONTO — The Ontario government is investing in a plan to counter rising antisemitism in Canadian schools and communities. As part of this plan, the government announced new training initiatives and resources for educators and supports for students to combat antisemitism with an investment of $327,000.

According to Statistics Canada, the number of police-reported incidents in Canada targeting the Jewish population in 2019 was 296, the largest number of any religious group.

Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, joined by Robin Martin, MPP for Eglinton-Lawrence, and Gila Martow, MPP for Thornhill, made the announcement with the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies.

“Antisemitism is a scourge and historic evil that must be eradicated from our schools and from our communities,” said Minister Lecce.

As part of the Safe Return to Class fund, the Ontario government is providing the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies with $327,000 to support two summer learning programs:

  • The ‘Unpacking Intolerance: Equity and Diversity Training for Educators’ program, which will provide professional development sessions to help educators learn about dismantling systems of oppression and antisemitism in homes, schools and communities.
  • The ‘Tour for Humanity Virtual Summer Camp,’ which will help students learn about human rights, dealing with injustice, and encourage ideas for creating positive change.

“We will fight antisemitism with every tool available to us to ensure Jewish students feel safe and supported in Ontario schools,” added Minister Lecce. “That is why we are partnering with the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies to strengthen training for educators and supports for students, with the aim of promoting respect for all students, irrespective of their faith or heritage.”

In all, as part of the Safe Return to Class Fund, the Ontario government is directing $6.4 million toward equity-related projects, including funding to community organizations to address anti-Asian racism, antisemitism, and Islamophobia; support for Black, Indigenous and 2SLGBTQI+ students; supports for newcomer parents and families to enhance access to school and community resources; and culturally appropriate mental health supports for youth, families and teachers.


Quick Facts

  • For the upcoming school year, Ontario’s Priorities and Partnership Funding (PPF) will include more than $288 million of funding for approximately 150 initiatives that include a focus on strengthening math skills, access to mental health supports, anti-racism and support for children with disabilities.
  • In March 2021, the Ontario Government announced a two-year investment of $1.6 million on a new Anti-Racism and Anti-Hate Grant Program that will focus on increasing awareness on the impact of racism and hate.
  • To hold educators accountable for racist remarks and behaviour, Ontario amended regulations to explicitly set out remarks and behaviours that expose persons to hatred based on a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Human Rights Code as acts of professional misconduct, effective November 5, 2020.
  • To support teacher hiring practices that are fair, consistent, and transparent, and to ensure a strong and equitable workforce for Ontario’s publicly funded education system, Ontario replaced previous regulation with Policy and Program Memorandum No. 165: Teacher Hiring Practices. School boards are now able to hire based on merit, diversity and the unique needs of the school, while providing protocols to avoid concerns of nepotism.

Quotes

"We are thankful to the Ontario government for the funding provided to our organization, which will help advance our work in delivering education programs that teach about the Holocaust, human rights and the importance of standing up against antisemitism and all forms of hate. Combatting hate starts with education. Amid rising antisemitism, it is so important for young people to learn about the consequences of hate and be both inspired and empowered to stand against it. "

- Michael Levitt
President and CEO, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies

"No country is perfect, but what's unique about Canada is our ability to learn from previous mistakes. I’m proud our government is partnering with the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies to help students and educators alike learn to identify the root causes of hate from a Canadian historical perspective, and equip them with the skills & knowledge necessary to prevent it from taking hold. "

- Gila Martow
MPP for Thornhill

"Last year, the Ontario Government formally adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism. Now, we are taking concrete action to ensure our classrooms are safe learning environments for all students. Together, we will continue to stand against the scourge of antisemitism, hate and intolerance in all of its forms. "

- Robin Martin
MPP for Eglinton-Lawrence