Economist Hugh Mackenzie estimates that in order to eliminate the $15.9 billion of disrepair in Ontario’s publicly funded schools, an additional $1.6 billion per year in provincial funding is needed for repairing, maintaining and rebuilding schools.
The next provincial election is in June 2018. The Liberals have one more budget to issue before Ontarians head to the polls. The Ontario Liberal, PC and NDP parties are all preparing their election platforms in the hopes of forming the next provincial government.
Interesting times at Queen’s Park.
At the PC policy convention in late November, Leader Patrick Brown revealed a “People’s Guarantee” and pledged not to run for a second term if he fails to deliver on five major commitments. Sadly, there was not even a mention of the $15.9 billion of disrepair in Ontario’s schools, let alone any commitment to an additional $1.6 billion per year in provincial funding to fix our schools. This was disappointing, given Brown’s willingness to take on the issue of disrepair in Ontario’s schools in June 2016.
In April, 2017, the Ontario NDP party unveiled their vision document, upon which their platform for the June 2018 election will be based. In it, the mounting repair backlog in Ontario’s schools is highlighted as an issue, noting that Ontario children are being sent to schools with leaky roofs and broken boilers. The NDP vision document states that “a New Democrat government will take immediate action to bring community schools up to a reasonable state of repair and address all repairs quickly moving forward.” However, no financial details have been outlined in an actual platform so it remains to be seen if the NDP party will commit the additional $1.6 billion per year needed to truly fix Ontario’s schools.
When the Liberals took over from the PCs in 2003, they inherited a legacy that included $5.6 billion of disrepair in Ontario’s schools. Today, disrepair in Ontario’s schools stands at $15.9 billion – triple the amount of disrepair they inherited in 15 years ago. To reverse this appalling trend, an additional $1.6 billion per year must be committed to repairing, rebuilding and maintaining our schools. The upcoming Liberal budget will signal their level of commitment to ensuring all Ontario children attend school in a safe, well-maintained and healthy building.
Interesting times indeed.