Our provincial government must take responsibility for the $15-billion of disrepair that has accumulated in Ontario’s schools. The 2015 Auditor-General’s report confirmed that $1.4 billion per year is needed to maintain Ontario schools in a state of good repair. However, actual annual funding in the last five years has ranged from only $150 million to $500 million. This gross underfunding of school infrastructure by our provincial government means that an unacceptable level of disrepair has accumulated in our public schools and will continue to worsen…unless funding solutions are found.
One avenue for new funding sources would be for the provincial government to change O. Reg 20/98, which guides the collection and use of Education Development Charges (EDCs). The existing regulation is now antiquated and prevents many school boards from receiving money from new condo/housing/commercial developments within that board. Furthermore, the existing regulation only allows school boards to use EDC money for purchasing new land – not for building new schools or building new additions or repairing existing schools.
Therefore, in Fix Our Schools’ Submission to the Ministry’s 2016/17 Funding Consultation, we recommended that the Ministry of Education change O. Reg 20/98 so that every School Board can benefit financially from new residential and commercial development within its boundaries; and can use Education Development Charges (EDCs) for repairs, capital projects, or purchasing new land.
All 72 publicly funded School Boards in the province face capital repair backlogs, for a total of over $15-billion of disrepair in Ontario schools. The $11-billion in capital grants to School Boards over ten years that Premier Wynne and her government have committed is simply insufficient to address this issue. New funding solutions must be found. Given the ease with which a provincial regulation can be changed, when are Premier Wynne and Education Minister Sandals going to prioritize changing Regulation 20/98 as a new potential revenue source for many school boards in this province? Certainly, EDCs do not hold the potential to be the complete solution… but any new funding for school infrastructure in this province would be beneficial!
The two million children who attend Ontario public schools deserve safe, well-maintained schools that are conducive to learning, as do the adults who work in these buildings every day.