TORONTO, ON – Once again, the Ford government has delivered a fall economic statement that ignores students, educators, and other education workers. Despite expected growing surpluses over the next few years, the government is projected to underfund public education by $6 billion over the next six years.
“In 2021-2022, Ontario recorded a $2.1 billion surplus despite a projected deficit that fiscal year. Despite this, the Ford government refused to invest adequately in Ontario’s public education system,” says Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) President Karen Brown. “It’s becoming increasingly clear that their dismissal of public education as a sector that needs attention and investment is strategic. Their long-term goal seems to be to privatize this most valued public service. Their privatization agenda must be stopped.”
In its recent report, Economic and Budget Outlook, the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO) found that the Ontario government is projected to see growing surpluses for the next six years while underfunding public education to the tune of $6 billion over the same period. In addition, the FAO reported that the government would have more than $44 billion in unallocated contingency funding by 2027-2028.
Adds Brown, “Ontario’s current fiscal position provides a unique opportunity to adequately fund public services and reinstate the funding that has been cut from public education over the past four years. The government must make the necessary investments to provide educators, students, families, and communities with the supports they need.”
The pandemic exacerbated pre-existing concerns about large class sizes, the poor physical condition of schools, insufficient and inequitable access to in-school supports, and the province’s failure to provide appropriate funding to meet the needs of all students, particularly students with special needs, English Language Learners, and those from marginalized communities. Yet, to date, the government’s response to these challenges has been more cuts. This cannot continue. The government must change course.
“To alleviate inequitable burdens, avert a recession, and build a more just and equitable province, the Ford government must invest in public services. Those investments must include public education,” notes Brown.
ETFO represents approximately 83,000 members, including public elementary teachers, occasional teachers, designated early childhood educators, education support personnel, and professional support personnel. Visit BuildingBetterSchools.ca.