On April 12, 2017, the Province announced its education funding for the coming 2017/18 school year, ahead of the provincial budget so as to provide school boards with more lead time for planning. Capital funding is outlined on page 5 of the GSN Memo.
In June 2016, the provincial government announced a $1.1-billion infusion of money to be allocated by school boards over two years specifically for school repairs. This new money, in effect, brought annual funding for school repairs for both 2015/16 and 2016/17 to the $1.4-billion that it always ought to have been.
We were pleased that on April 12, 2017, the Province announced a continuation of this baseline $1.4-billion/year funding for school repairs, deemed necessary by industry standards and Ontario’s Auditor-General, to stop further erosion of Ontario’s publicly funded schools. However, we are very concerned about the failure to address the $15-billion repair backlog that continues to plague Ontario’s schools.
Moreover, the $200-million of the $1.4-billion that is mandated to be spent by school boards by March 31, 2018 on environmental upgrades should, in our opinion, have been provided on top of the $1.4-billion amount instead of cutting into the amount urgently needed for basic school repairs such as roof leaks.
We call upon Kathleen Wynne’s government to find funding solutions for the $15-billion repair backlog that has accumulated in Ontario’s schools over 20 years of chronic and gross underfunding by provincial governments for school repairs. These solutions may include long-term education infrastructure bonds and education development charges. We also expect that, in preparation for the June 2018 election, all three provincial parties look to reinvent Ontario’s education funding formula to ensure that the priorities of all Ontario communities are met.