In the wake of even more cuts to education in the province, Brampton students are speaking out again.

More than 360 teachers with Peel District School Board were informed that they will no longer have permanent positions in the coming school year.

176 elementary and 193 secondary school teachers will be let go, and Brampton students are feeling the impact already.

17-year-old Bianca Modi, a student at Turner Fenton Secondary School, says students are already feeling the effects of the changes.

“These cuts have begun to and are continuing to impact myself and nearly everyone around me,” says Modi.

Modi says students are starting to see their favourite teachers get handed their notices.

Referring to one such teacher Modi says, “[Mr. Babcock] made an enormous impact on many students including myself with not only his teaching, but his presence within the school. He was the understanding and advising figure that is difficult to find, yet one that everyone needs in the tough struggle of high school. He has shaped the lives of many of us not only as students but as individuals.”

This is just a taste of what’s to come. With larger class sizes expected as soon as September, and the integration of more online learning, even more changes are on the way.

More than anything, students haven’t felt like they’ve been heard. In the leadup to the budget, thousands of students from across Brampton and the rest of the province staged walkouts to protest the planned changes to class sizes, online learning and a major overhaul to OSAP — but the province didn’t budge.

“Doug Ford is ignoring the basis of a society in which democracy is prized and the opinions of the people are heard,” says Modi.

But Minister of Education Lisa Thompson has so far downplayed the cuts, saying in the legislature that the NDP was “perpetuating fear” and that what’s happening is standard procedure.

However, Mike Bettiol of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation’s District 19 said in a statement, “This is not routine. In fact, secondary has not had any surplus teachers since 2013 … and then it was 40 teachers. The layoffs are all due to budget cuts and entirely the government’s fault.”

Brampton Centre MPP Sarah Singh questioned Ford about the layoffs in the legislature Wednesday, referencing the concern thousands of parents, teachers and students have expressed.

Premier Ford didn’t answer the question, choosing instead to deflect. “I’ll tell you what strengthens our education system, but even better strengths our country, was the big win from our friend Jason Kenney yesterday,” he said, referencing the Alberta provincial elections the night before that saw Rachel Notley’s NDP government unseated in favour of a majority for Kenney’s United Conservative Party.

In response to the layoffs, students have started an open letter to Premier Ford, including a collection of stories from students on how the cuts are affecting them.

“We [are asking] that any and all students affected by [Ford’s] education cuts share their stories in order to bring awareness to the situation,” says Modi.

Check out the open letter here.

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