Ontario’s Parents and Students have Good Reason to Oppose Ford Government’s Drastic Cuts to Public Education

Parents and children are looking at larger classes, fewer course offerings for older students, and mandatory online learning.

More than 200 students join at Holy Cross Secondary School join in an April 4th, 2019 province-wide walkout to protest cuts the Ford government is making to their education.

A Message from Ricardo Tranjan, Senior Researcher, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (Ontario)

Posted December 27th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

Over the past year, the Ontario government has announced a number of budget changes affecting schools and school boards across the province.

Parents are increasingly concerned about how the resulting cuts — both current and future — will harm their children’s education. This is understandable. Parents and children are looking at larger classes, fewer course offerings for older students, and mandatory online learning. The end result, according to the Financial Accountability Office, will be the elimination of 10,000 teaching positions across the province by 2023-24.

Teachers in St. Catharines, engaged in one of some of the one-day walk-outs teachers across Ontario participated in this fall, as Ford cuts to schools loom. Photos by Doug Draper

These changes have been met with significant and sustained opposition, and for good reason: parents and educators want accessible, high-quality public education that meets the needs of all students.

In the face of drastic cuts, there is a growing understanding that educators and education workers, parents and advocates must work together to build a public school system where all kids make progress.

Here at the CCPA, we’re committed to providing parents, educators and education workers, and community advocates with the tools they need to understand the policy debates, push back against decisions they know will damage their children’s educational experience, and advocate for the changes they want to see in their classroom and communities.

In a piece published (http://behindthenumbers.ca/2019/09/04/ontario-school-boards-map/?mc_cid=e2ce0765ca&mc_eid=[UNIQID]) at the beginning of the 2019 school year, I showed just how much funding every school board will be losing this year under the current government. With a $430 million funding reduction, every district will be forced to make drastic changes to the education they are able to provide to the children in their care.

Teachers in Niagara join thousands of their colleagues across Ontario this fall in protest of Ford government cuts to public education. Photos by Doug Draper

Following that, I explored (http://behindthenumbers.ca/2019/10/30/board-by-board-impact-larger-class-sizes/?mc_cid=e2ce0765ca&mc_eid=[UNIQID]) the impact of the proposed larger class sizes and mandatory e-learning modules by mapping the elimination of the projected 10,000 teaching positions by 2023-24 across all district school boards.

Public resistance has led the provincial government to try and change the narrative on some of their least popular policies. But as myanalysis of the province’s recent fiscal update (http://behindthenumbers.ca/2019/11/07/no-new-money-for-schools-in-ontario-fiscal-update/?mc_cid=e2ce0765ca&mc_eid=[UNIQID]) demonstrates, claims of increased funding for education do not take into consideration enrolment growth and inflation. As a result, there remain significant budget shortfalls in elementary and secondary school funding.

Ontario students protest Ford cuts to public education

Parents and educators have expressed their anger and frustration with the Ontario Ministry of Education over its chosen means of consulting with the public over education changes, especially its refusal to release the results of the public consultation on class size increases. I’ve summarized the ministry’s process and put together a manual on what governments should not do (http://behindthenumbers.ca/shorthand/how-not-to-engage-parents-lessons-from-the-ontario-ministry-of-education/?mc_cid=e2ce0765ca&mc_eid=[UNIQID]) if they want real public engagement on critically important issues like education.

Here at CCPA Ontario, we’ll be continuing our work on education and all the public services Ontarians depend on. Stay tuned for more updates, and thank you.

Sincerely, Ricardo Tranjan, Senior Researcher, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (Ontario)

About the Canada Centre for Policy Alternatives – The CCPA is one of Canada’s leading sources of progressive policy ideas. Our work is rooted in the values of social justice and environmental sustainability. As non corporate-funded policy think tanks continue to be silenced, the importance of the Centre has never been greater.

Visit the Canada Centre for Policy Alternatives’ website by clicking on – https://www.policyalternatives.ca/ .

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