Ontario parliament
Ontario parliamentiStock

The Minister of Education of the Canadian province of Ontario, Stephen Lecce, on Monday announced the province's plan to counter rising anti-Semitism in schools and communities.

Lecce said the province will give $327,000 to the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies to support the courses.

One program will provide professional development sessions for educators aimed at dismantling anti-Semitism in various environments. Another will help students learn about human rights and how to deal with injustice, according to The Canadian Press.

Lecce said the province wants to ensure Jewish students feel safe and supported in school.

Jewish groups welcomed Monday’s announcement.

Noah Shack, Vice President, GTA, of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), said, “Anti-Semitism is an enormous challenge for schools across the province. Over the past several years, young Jewish children have witnessed rising levels of hate, both virtually and in person. Bullying, vandalism, and hateful discourse targeting Jewish youth creates an unsafe learning environment and compels children to mask their Jewish identity. This is a realty that no Canadian should accept.”

"CIJA welcomes today’s announcement as we experience an unprecedented spike in anti-Semitic incidents. As a society, we must commit ourselves to uprooting all forms of hate and discrimination, starting in our schools. Measuring the extent of the problem is an essential step. We continue our call for the Ministry of Education to require school boards to report annually on incidents of hate and discrimination. This data should include information on the nature of the bias, prejudice, or hate that motivated the incident,” he added.

"We look forward to continuing our work to support boards, teachers, and families in pushing back against the world’s oldest form of hate,” concluded Shack.

Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada, said of Monday’s announcement, “The Government of Ontario must make good on its commitment to fighting anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitic indoctrination in public schools is a grave threat to the Jewish community, and must be treated as such.”

“We welcome today’s announcement as a positive step, and look forward to working with Queen’s Park to ensure that words are translated into action,” added Mostyn.

Ontario’s announcement comes amid a rise in anti-Semitic incidents in Canada in recent years.

In late March, Statistics Canada released its annual survey of police-reported hate crimes which found that Jews have remained by far the most targeted religious group for hate crimes in Canada.

The Statistics Canada report found that there were 1,946 police-reported hate crimes in Canada in 2019, up 7 percent from a year earlier.

In April, B’nai Brith Canada released its Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, which found that anti-Semitic incidents in Canada have increased 18 percent since 2019.

The study affirms that Canadian Jews remain the most targeted religious group in the country.