TORONTO and HAMILTON — NDP Education critic Marit Stiles and Mental Health and Addictions critic Monique Taylor released the following statement in response to a new report by the Hospital for Sick Children showing disturbing levels of clinically significant depressive symptoms among children and teens as a result of the pandemic and school closures:
“The kids are not alright. The NDP is deeply saddened and worried by the results of the latest Sick Kids study, showing half of kids eight to 12 and 70 per cent of adolescents reported clinically significant depressive symptoms.
None of us have the right to be shocked, though. We know that it’s critical for kids to be in school, participate in extracurricular activities, interact with peers, and be supported by caring adults like teachers and education workers. Despite knowing that, Doug Ford marched us right into a terrible third wave, and chose schools to be the first to close and last to open because he didn’t want to spend the money on education. Our kids are paying a horrifying price for his choices.
This Sick Kids report is clear. The longer kids spend online instead of in school, the more likely it is they’ll experience depression and anxiety, and that they won’t just bounce back. The government cannot continue to take a wait-and-see approach to school safety in September, and can’t continue to ignore the rising youth mental health crisis.
We need investment and action right now to guarantee that schools will be safe for kids to return to for regular, full-day learning in September, and we need to get mental health supports in place immediately — from in-school councillors to crisis intervention and long-term supports.”