Facts on the Ontario Government’s Public Education Changes

Published on May 30, 2019

Concerning the Ontario Government’s new education reform plan 

May 30, 2019 OTTAWA -- Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, MPP for Kanata-Carleton issues the following statement in response to recent public comments made concerning the Ontario Government’s new education reform plan and the changes being made to the K-12 public education system.

The Ontario Government’s new education reform plan, Education that Works for You, includes measured and responsible changes to the Province’s public education system, with the best interests of Ontario students in mind.

The Government has been clear about our government’s commitment towards investing in education and students in a way that is focused on student achievement and well-being. Every one of our proposals has come after continued and ongoing consultations with our labour and education partners. Our plan is designed to serve the best interests of Ontario’s students in a way that works for families and school boards and is fair to our educators.

More money for the public education sector

Our Government will be investing over $700 million more in education this year over last year. It includes over $90 million more for special education (for a total of over $3 billion), and $92 million more for student transportation.

We are also investing $1.4 billion this year to repair and renew schools across Ontario, and $13 billion over the next 10 years to build new schools in high-growth areas, and to improve our existing schools.

No teachers are losing their jobs because of the Ontario Government policy

Let us be clear: we are not firing teachers. Layoff notices are an annual occurrence during the budget planning process, in line with deadlines established in local collective agreements. Staff are then recalled as funding and enrolment projections are analyzed by board administrators. Suggestions otherwise have caused grief and anxiety to both students and teachers.

Class sizes will not grow significantly. In fact, we are hiring additional elementary and French language teachers to ensure our youngest students see no increase in class size. Students in grade 4-8 may see one extra student per class, and our mature high school students will see an increase from 22 to an average of 28 students per class, a move that brings us in line with other provinces.

Class size organization, course offerings, and staffing decisions have been, and will continue to be made by our local school boards, based on enrolment and student demand. Across the Province, the hard reality is that student enrollment numbers continue to decrease, which makes it difficult to maintain current teacher levels, especially when many schools are already well below capacity. However, our government is committed to ensuring that none of our dedicated, hardworking teachers will lose their jobs by providing $1.6 billion in new attrition protection funding. This $1.6 billion is provided to school boards to ensure that not a single teacher in Ontario loses their job due to our proposed changes on class sizes and e-learning.

We hope that our school boards provide greater clarity to families on their staffing and course offerings in the coming weeks, and we are committed to working together to ensure the local priorities and needs of our students are met, including through night school, summer school, and e-learning options. In some places in Ontario this is happening and, in other areas, the school boards have chosen to miscast their decisions as having been forced by “cuts” made at the provincial level.

Again, there are not cuts. This year we have increased payments for education. Now those increases are not as great as the increases of the previous government – but that level of funding is unsustainable.

Working to ensure greater student achievements

The Minister of Education’s Task Force on School Boards will also work to ensure that the funding provided goes to classrooms, not bureaucracy and administration. Every dollar spent in education needs to be focused on maximizing value for student achievement in the classroom.

To this point, we’ve undertaken the largest education curriculum consultation in the province’s history. Improving our curriculum is aimed at helping achieve better student outcomes. A revamped STEM curriculum, alongside new mandatory financial literacy and mental health studies, will help better prepare our students for the challenges they will face in our rapidly changing world.

As we near the end of the school year, we are focused on working together to protect and enhance our public education system for next year and years to come. We also hope through the summer months, when the teachers’ unions will be active with their respective bargaining negotiations, that we can continue positive and proactive steps towards a better public education system for our Ontario students.

I look forward to discussing this matter with residents and getting the facts out in the public domain so that Kanata-Carleton residents can make informed decisions about our Government’s plans to improve Ontario’s K-12 education sector.

 

Media Contact for Merrilee Fullerton, MPP:

Tiffany Lepack                           613-599-3000

Constituency Assistant            merrilee.fullerton@pc.ola.org