Newspaper article The Canadian Press

NDP Support Mandatory Phys-Ed through Grade 12; Tories Worry about the Cost: NDP Backs Mandatory Phys-Ed in High School

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

NDP Support Mandatory Phys-Ed through Grade 12; Tories Worry about the Cost: NDP Backs Mandatory Phys-Ed in High School

Article excerpt

TORONTO - Ontario's Liberal government wouldn't commit Tuesday to adopting a recommendation from two provincial health agencies to make physical education classes mandatory all through high school.

Cancer Care Ontario and Public Health Ontario released a joint report on ways to reduce the province's 79 per cent death rate from various ailments including chronic respiratory disease, cardiovascular diseases, some cancers and diabetes.

"These largely preventable diseases diminish our quality of life, economy and communities," concluded the two health agencies.

"As Ontario's population increases and gets proportionately older, the rising burden of chronic disease on the health care system will also become unsustainable."

The report called on the province to ban smoking on restaurant patios, increase tobacco taxes and alcohol prices, and make physical education mandatory until Grade 12.

Education Minister Laurel Broten refused to give an opinion on making phys-ed classes mandatory all through high school in order for a student to graduate.

"I look forward to the report and I look to all the advice that we get," Broten told reporters when asked about the recommendation.

"We have a curriculum council that we work with regularly in the province to constantly update and reform our curriculum."

The Opposition said a government facing a $16-billion budget deficit should not be looking at new programs like mandatory phys-ed all through high school.

"We're on track to a $400-billion debt and I know that provinces and jurisdictions that have big debt chase investment and they chase away jobs," said Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak.

"We can't afford new big spending programs."

The New Democrats, however, like the idea of mandatory phys-ed, even though party leader Andrea Horwath didn't enjoy taking the classes herself.

"I hated phys-ed in school but it's something that I had to do, whether I hated it or not, and now of course I have a healthier habit of attending the gym and swimming," said Horwath. …

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