By CAROLINE ALPHONSO
Toronto Globe and Mail
December 14, 2005
The province has introduced legislation that would also see 16- and 17-year-old students who are habitually absent to be fined as much as $1,000. Parents and employers, too, could be legally reprimanded. Those who fail to ensure their under-18 children attend class, and employers who hire students during school hours, could be fined $1,000 - up from $200 - under the proposed bill.
"It is a privilege to have a driver's license, and one of the corresponding obligations is to be serious about taking your learning as far as possible," Education Minister Gerard Kennedy told a news conference at Queen's Park Tuesday before introducing the legislation.
The incentive being used to keep students in school comes as the province attempts to cut its dismal dropout rate in half by 2010. Currently, about 30 percent of students leave high school without a diploma.
If Ontario's new bill is passed, students under 18 will have to present an acceptable academic record to the Transportation Ministry when applying for their licence. There will be some exemptions for medical or family circumstances, the Education Minister said.
"We're going to have a proactive way of saying that the G1 and G2 (graduated) licenses can't be applied for if you haven't got a certificate in good standing to show that you're not habitually truant from school," Kennedy said.
The penalty would only come into effect after schools add more co-operative education programs and courses for struggling students, the government said.
The proposed bill would allow judges to suspend a dropout's driver's license.
"We're looking from this point on to rally the province to this basic idea that we need to confer an education advantage to all students in Ontario," Kennedy said. "Every student deserves a good outcome from high school."
In the past, students found themselves in court and were given fines or put on probation if they dropped out. In 2003-04, 181 secondary school students faced a judge.
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