KATHLEEN WYNNE, ONTARIO'S NEW PREMIER IS A FRIEND TO ADULT LEARNERS                       by Wendy Terry

originally published in the 2013 Spring Issue

Ontario has never had a Premier with such deep commitment to adult learning. Consider the following about Kathleen:

  • She was an ESL instructor in Holland;
  • She has an M.Ed from the Ontario Institute for Education in Adult Education;
  • She was chair of the Task Force on Adult Education at the TDSB 2002.

As a parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Training Colleges and Universities, she completed a provincial report Ontario Learns, Strengthening our Adult Education System in June 23, 2005. When I was rereading this report it became clear that many of the recommendations have been acted on while Kathleen was the Minister of Education or as a Member of Cabinet as Minister of other departments, and even the Deputy Premier. Consider the following:

  • An Adult Education Unit that works with both the Ministries of Education and the Ministries of Training, Colleges and Universities has been established;
  • High school programs up to 18 then to 21 are now fully funded which had previously been fully funded only up to 16 years of age.
  • Funding for ESL programs has been increased;
  • A Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement which helps foster language and settlement services for newcomers was signed in 2005;
  • Career Bridge programs for the internationally trained was initiated in 2006 that include Occupation Specific Language Training and Mentorships;
  • The Office of the Fairness Commissioner was set up in April 2007, an independent agency to make sure people (internationally trained) are treated fairly in Ontario when they apply to become licensed professionals;
  • A Canada-Ontario Labour Market Agreement was signed with the federal government in 2008, which better supports adult training.
  • The Second Career program was initiated in June 2008 which has enabled thousands of laid-off workers to retrain, from 2009 on;
  • The Employment Ontario Centres were reorganized in the fall of 2010 so that they are one-stop centres for adults seeking work and retraining;
  • The Ontario Council of Articulation and Transfer was set up in 2011 which administers ONTransfer a website providing students with information on how they can transfer credits among post-secondary programs of study in publically funded colleges and universities.

In her riding of Don Valley West, she pays frequent visits to Overland Learning Centre, one of the TDSB’s largest community schools for adults which offers ESL and General Interest courses and Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office which offers LINC and computer courses.


One final hurrah, when you go to the www.ontario.ca all you have to do is put Adult Learning or Adult Education into the search engine and you are immediately into program summaries, links and a hotline 1-800-387-5656 to help you find courses in Ontario. If you punch in Newcomers you are immediately led to program summaries and links in the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration. Now that is progress– Information without drilling down through layers of organizational structure.


Thank you, Kathleen, and keep it up!

Toronto, Canada