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To: Minister Lecce and the Ontario Government

Help us Breathe Easier in Schools – An Urgent Plea Regarding the Greenbelt and Air Quality

Sign now to show your support for improving air quality, especially in Ontario schools and buses.

Time and time again, we at Ontario School Safety (OSS) have pushed for safer, healthier schools and school buses, free from airborne pollutants and germs that endanger our kids' well-being and disrupt the essential work that our education professionals provide.

The Ontario government has largely ignored those efforts.

On May 16, 2023, we voiced our concerns about air quality within our schools and on school buses with the provincial government:

"Access to clean air is as basic a right as having clean drinking water. It’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity. As a government, your responsibility is to ensure clean air in spaces that Ontarian families trust.”

Their response? A standardized reply pointing to the investments they have made – which are wildly insufficient.

On June 7th, 2023 — on National Clean Air Day — as wildfires burned across the province and outdoor air quality was at its worst, we tried again. We went to Queen’s Park prepared to collaborate and address air quality in our public schools. We were impressed by the cool and clean indoor air and asked the government for the same in schools. That request went ignored.

This conversation is important because outdoor air becomes indoor air!

If our classrooms and buses lack effective air cleaning systems capable of fully removing pollutants like wildfire smoke and pathogens like viruses and bacteria that cause illness, we’re not just risking kids’ health now, we are gambling with their futures.

We asked for the government to step in and help improve air quality. What has the government done in response?


Actually, worse than nothing. We have since learned that our precious Greenbelt, (previously protected lands!) is being “developed” – one more thing that will add to the ongoing climate crisis that has caused our province to burn this summer. Our green spaces are more than just land; as Ontario’s air purifier, they filter out air pollution (like smoke and smog), and supply Ontario with fresh, clean air. Any move to disrupt this is short-sighted and reckless.

Our government has a duty: to invest in public education, in public health, and crucially, in our families, education workers, students, and communities. So, when we see a whopping $22 billion in “excess funds”, it begs the question: Who is this for if not for Ontarians? That’s $22 billion of our tax dollars unspent on services we expect from our provincial government.

In two short weeks, our students and education workers face the grim reality of sitting in unsafe classrooms. The exposure to wildfire smoke doesn't just sting the eyes; it weakens our defenses against respiratory illnesses in the fall. This puts us all at risk.

Last year, the "tripledemic" – COVID, RSV, influenza – nearly collapsed our healthcare system. Children’s hospitals and pediatric units across the province were flooded with sick kids. Parents struggled to find children’s pain medication and antibiotics were in extremely short supply. Emergency rooms shut down, ambulances were unavailable, and communities were overwhelmed. In schools, absences remained higher than normal, and bus driver shortages caused cancellations of routes, stranding students and parents.

If we let the Ontario government continue letting our province burn, while also failing to protect us from things in the air that make us sick – such as smoke, viruses and bacteria – this year's tripledemic will be even worse.

Why do children have to get sick, or die, before our government steps in to protect them and provide a healthy, safe and stable learning environment?

The Ontario government is sitting on a $22B surplus. That’s taxpayer money that could be used to improve air quality in our schools and school buses. It’s money that will protect us all, given that illnesses in schools ripple forth to affect families, the community and the economy.

Why is this important?

Enough is enough. Now is the time to make sure we have a safe September. Now is the time to make sure every student and education worker walks into a safe, healthy environment. Let’s protect them by getting “back to basics” and providing clean air for them to breathe.

Help us remind the Ontario government of its duty to protect students and education workers. Demand they take responsibility for this terrible failure to protect us all.

Insist that they act to provide a safe September, and invest those unspent tax dollars on improvements to air quality in our schools - for the sake of our communities and healthcare system.

How it will be delivered

OSS will deliver this petition on September 25 when the government is back at Queen's Park.



2023-09-03 10:04:07 -0400

500 signatures reached

2023-08-16 09:40:32 -0400

100 signatures reached

2023-08-15 23:49:49 -0400

50 signatures reached

2023-08-15 21:19:59 -0400

25 signatures reached

2023-08-15 15:44:11 -0400

10 signatures reached