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So important to share how disrepair impacts students and adults in schools!

To exert pressure, we need your stories and photos. We must ensure that Ontario citizens far and wide are as affronted as we are by the unacceptable temperatures in classrooms, the leaking ceilings, the disgusting washrooms, the asbestos, the mould, the crumbling stairs, and the list goes on…

So please take a minute, and send us a photo of disrepair in your local school and explain to us the impact to students and adults who spend their days in this school.

Ontario Alliance Against School Closures (OAASC)

The Ontario Alliance Against School Closures (OAASC) represents 49 school groups, 6 counties and 18 district school boards across the province, largely in rural and Northern Ontario. They emerged out of the belief that a local school is integral to the fabric of any thriving community and that no community should be isolated by having its local school closed. You can find out more about the OAASC here.

Fix Our Schools had the privilege of joining OAASC at a recent panel discussion hosted by CUPE and seeing this presentation by OAASC.

 

Response from Education Minister Hunter

On September 19, 2016, Fix Our Schools sent this letter to Premier Wynne and Education Minister asking the their government please:

  • Explore and implement funding solutions such as issuing provincial bonds to immediately address the $15-billion repair backlog in schools.
  • Work with school boards to develop measurable goals for what school conditions in Ontario ought to be; and plans/timelines for how those goals will be achieved.
  • Release disrepair data at regular intervals to ensure that the $15-billion repair backlog is decreasing; and not continuing to increase.
  • Include school conditions as a key part of your party’s provincial campaign platform.

On October 24, 2016, Fix Our Schools received this reponse_letter from Education Minister Hunter. Although no direct response was received to three out of four of our requests, Minister Hunter did commit to ongoing transparency about the conditions of schools in Ontario, committing to continuing to release the condition and renewal needs of schools in this province. We are optimistic this will be at least yearly and will follow up with Minister Hunter to clarify her commitment.

A small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world…

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”   

With the federal election underway, we have an opportunity to raise the issue of disrepair in Canadian public schools. Please take advantage of this opportunity. Speak to your local candidates and write them a letter urging them to invest in public schools as a critical element of our society’s infrastructure.

As proof of the famous Margaret Mead quote above, we wanted to share a story from early on in the Fix Our Schools campaign during the Spring 2014 Ontario provincial election…

At that time, we had not yet formally launched Fix Our Schools and the campaign only consisted of six parents who all lived in the Parkdale-High Park provincial riding. All six of us agreed that we would ask our local candidates and their canvassers about disrepair in our neighbourhood public schools.

We were pleasantly surprised when, a couple of weeks later, campaign flyers from these candidates were delivered to households and on those flyers, we saw the issue of disrepair in public schools was listed. There, in black and white, was proof that a few thoughtful, committed citizens talking about an issue could bring that issue to the forefront.

Our only regret was that we hadn’t started the Fix Our Schools campaign a year or two earlier so we would have been more organized and had a larger impact! Guess we’ll have to be patient and wait until the next provincial election…

In the meantime, we have a federal election underway and an opportunity for thoughtful, committed citizens to ask their local federal candidates about investing in schools as critical public infrastructure. As a thoughtful, committed citizen, please take advantage of this opportunity!

 

Send a letter to your local federal candidates

To send a letter to your local federal candidates urging them to allocate federal infrastructure dollars to repairing and rebuilding our country’s public schools, click here. You can also simply copy and past the letter, which is printed below on this blog post.

Our federal government provides money for universities, colleges, curling rinks and hockey arenas. Surely the five-million Canadian children who attend public schools deserve some federal money to go towards ensuring their schools are safe and well-maintained?

All you need to do is fill out the names and email addresses of your local federal candidates, then sign your name and mailing address so the candidate knows you are a voter in their riding. To find email addresses for your local federal candidates click here.

Copy of the Fix Our Schools letter to federal candidates

Dear YOUR LOCAL FEDERAL CANDIDATES,

Children in one Canadian school wore winter coats at school this past winter because their classroom was twelve degrees Celsius.

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident of disrepair in Canadian public schools:

  • In Vancouver, schools need approximately $1-billion of seismic upgrades to prevent collapse in case of earthquakes; and there are hundreds of millions of dollars in outstanding maintenance in public schools across British Columbia.
  • In Calgary, there is $1-billion in deferred maintenance in schools at the Calgary Board of Education. Deferred maintenance is defined as “estimate of the required costs to maintain safe, comfortable and supportive learning environments”. Given current provincial funding levels, the amount of deferred maintenance is going to continue to grow.
  • In Edmonton, there is over $250-million in deferred maintenance in Edmonton Catholic School District (ECSD) schools and over $200-million in deferred maintenance in Edmonton Public District School Board (EPDSB) schools.
  • In Ontario, all 72 public school boards have repair backlogs, for a total of over $15-billion of outstanding repairs – many of which are deemed “urgent” by the Province.
  • In Montreal, almost 40% of the 226 schools in one board were recently deemed to be in either an “excessive [or] advanced state of decay”.
  • In New Brunswick, two public schools had to be closed in 2010 because they were unsafe, forcing that provincial government to invest more in school buildings.

The 5-million children who attend Canadian public schools deserve better – as do the countless Canadian children who attend childcare programs in these same schools. Voters across the country consider their local public schools to be community hubs, and expect these buildings to be safe, well-maintained, and funded as critical social infrastructure.

Federal infrastructure money has been used for hockey arenas, curling rinks and gazebos. Surely, Canadians would agree that federal investment in school buildings is equally important? So, our question to the Federal parties is this:

How much federal infrastructure money would your party invest in repairing and rebuilding Canadian public school buildings – a critical part of our country’s infrastructure?

Kind regards,

YOUR NAME & ADDRESS

 

How to find your local federal candidate’s email address

Interested in contacting your local federal candidates by email? Use the links below to navigate to each party’s candidate for your riding.

Click here to find Green Party candidate’s email address – enter your postal code and your local candidate will pop up with email address.

Click here to find your Liberal Party candidate’s email address  – select your province, then locate your candidate listed alphabetically (if you don’t know your Liberal candidates’ name, use the Elections Canada website below!), click on your candidate, and then click on their listed website, which should lead you to their email address.

Click here to find your NDP Party candidate’s email address – enter your postal code to find your candidate and then use the email format firstname.lastname@ndp.ca as their email address. You will generally not find email addresses on candidates websites but instead will see a “contact us form”.

Click here to find your PC Party candidate’s email address  – enter your postal code, then clicking on the magnifying glass icon; then click on the “Learn More” to drill down to find candidate’s email address.

Click here for the Elections Canada website to see all candidates in your riding but no email addresses here!