QUEEN'S PARK — Official Opposition NDP Leader, Marit Stiles, and Education critic, Chandra Pasma (Ottawa West-Nepean), are calling out the Ford government for voting down an Opposition Day motion to cover all pandemic-related expenditures incurred by school boards across the province, including supports for students struggling to catch up after years of learning disruption. Their vote will mean school boards will be forced to cut services that support students across the province.
At a press conference held Monday with TDSB Trustee Matias de Dovitiis, Stiles and Pasma urged the Ford Conservatives to provide the funding boards need to prevent staff layoffs and reductions of supports for students.
“Doug Ford’s budget fails to meet the moment and address the very real struggles Ontario’s students are facing today,” Stiles said. “Ford’s budget does nothing to address schools’ dire need to hire more teachers, education workers and mental health professionals, nor does it do anything to reduce class sizes so kids get the attention they need, or invest to fix our growing repairs backlog.
The Ford government underspending on its 2022-23 education budget by $432 million and failure to allocate $600 million in COVID-19 response funds has left boards with an estimated $100-million budget shortfall.
The TDSB had to pay $70 million out of their own reserves to cover pandemic-related expenses and now face a $61 million deficit for the 2023-24 year.
“The Ford government is starving our public education system of funds, and parents, teachers, and education workers are seeing the reality on the ground: crowded classrooms, a lack of mental health supports and cuts to special education,” Pasma said. “Ontarians deserve a government that invests in strong public education. The NDP will keep advancing solutions to put students first.”