Ontario Cracking Down on Cellphone Use and Banning Vaping in Schools

Province removing distractions from classrooms as part of its back-to-basics plan

April 28, 2024

NORTH YORK — Ontario is introducing the most comprehensive plan in Canada to reduce distractions in classrooms and improve the health of children by standardizing and strengthening provincewide measures and mandatory learning to directly counter the alarming rise of vaping and cellphone distractions within classrooms.

As students benefit from three more years of uninterrupted learning as a result of the government’s historic signing of deals with all teachers’ unions, the government is taking further action to go back-to-basics by combating the negative impact mobile devices, social media and vaping are having on in-class learning.

“We have heard loud and clear from parents and teachers alike that cellphones in classrooms are distracting kids from learning,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “Our government is introducing the toughest policy in Canada to tackle this issue by cracking down on cellphone usage during class time, as well as banning vaping in all schools. When it comes to cellphones, our policy is ‘out of sight and out of mind,’ as we get students back to the basics by restoring focus, safety and common sense back in Ontario schools.”

Students in kindergarten to Grade 6 will be required to keep phones on silent and out of sight for the entire school day, unless explicitly permitted by an educator. For students in Grades 7 to 12, cellphones will not be permitted during class time unless explicitly directed by the educator. Moreover, social media websites will be removed from all school networks and devices, and report cards will include comment on students’ distraction levels in class. The government will provide mandatory training for teachers and new supports for students and parents.

The government is also strengthening the rules around students caught using or carrying vapes or cigarettes. Students will be required to surrender these products, along with parents being notified immediately of the situation. The government also officially announced $30 million in the 2024 Budget to install vape detectors and other security upgrades in schools.

To support these initiatives, the government is investing $17.5 million in new wrap-around supports for student mental health and parent engagement. This will include:

  • $15 million to provide supports for students at risk of addictive behaviours
  • $1 million to partner with School Mental Health Ontario to develop webinars and resources targeted to parents and students across the province to learn how to talk about the adverse effects of vaping and excessive cellphone usage 
  • $1.5 million to Parent Involvement Committees and students to run local prevention campaigns to help deter vaping and cellphone distractions

These changes and investments are part of the government’s plan to get students back to basics. By removing distractions in the classroom, students can focus on learning the skills they need to succeed after graduation.