QUEENS' PARK – Chandra Pasma (Ottawa West-Nepean), NDP Education Critic, expressed disappointment with Minister Stephen Lecce's recent 'smoke and mirrors' announcement, stating that it is unimpressive and fails to address the urgent needs in Ontario's education system:
"The government talks about accountability but blindsides us with last-minute changes to the education sector without adequate funding for meaningful change," Pasma stated. "As a parent, this announcement is frustrating and feels like smoke and mirrors. The underfunding of our education system is impacting our kids directly. We know why they are struggling - oversized classrooms, lack of specialized learning programs, and anxiety levels at an all-time high. How can students focus and succeed in such conditions?
“Adding new demands at this pace sets our students up for failure," Pasma emphasized. "We need a government that truly address the scale of issues we see in the education system, including huge class sizes, issues with violence and mental health."
Pasma further raised concerns about the government's approach to funding, citing the disparity between the government's stated increase of 2.7% in GSNs (Grants for Student Needs) and the much higher inflation rates of 6.8% in 2022 and the predicted 3.6% for 2023.
"How will this meagre increase in funding help when inflation rates are much higher, and the scale of issues in education requires much more support?" Pasma questioned. "We need a government that takes responsibility and stops shifting the blame for the fact that schools are struggling. The funding announcements are well below the inflation rate, and more is needed to address the scale of issues we see in our education system. The government's failure to adequately fund education hinders the system's ability to provide quality education to our students.”
“It's baffling that Minister Lecce is more concerned with selling closed schools than addressing the urgent needs of our students and educators," Pasma stated. "It's time for Minister Lecce to get back to the basics and go back to his drawing board. Maybe then he will realize the current needs in our education system."