On September 16, we sent a letter to all Conservative, Green, Liberal and NDP federal candidates in Ontario, asking them:
“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?”
As of October 19, we’ve heard back from seventeen NDP Party candidates and their responses consistently included the following:
“For decades the federal government has been downloading costs for infrastructure and social programs onto the backs of provinces and municipalities and this is having a direct impact on the state of disrepair in Canadian schools. After years of federal neglect, too many municipalities are struggling with a massive infrastructure gap over $172 billion as well. A lack of federal funding in core infrastructure is preventing provinces from being able to make the necessary repairs needed for schools in our communities.
The NDP will build and repair local infrastructure by increasing the direct transfers to municipalities through the existing Gas Tax Fund by an additional $1.5 billion annually by the end of our first mandate. This means that that other jurisdictions will be better able to manage their education infrastructure to provide our children with a healthy, safe environment for learning. The NDP’s plan will invest fairly in every Canadian community for their priorities, and will help growing meet their long-term infrastructure needs. It provides the most stable, predictable, efficient and transparent way to invest in the priorities of our communities.
We are particularly concerned by the potential for seismic activity in British Columbia which would have devastating impacts on children in schools that are ill-equipped to withstand a significant earthquake. That’s why the NDP has committed to invest $400 million more specifically for disaster mitigation infrastructure. We would ensure that schools in need of repairs for any type of natural disaster, including earthquakes, would be eligible to apply for this funding and other funding within the federal government’s New Building Canada Fund.
Together, we can stop the downloading of costs to provinces, municipalities and school boards and ensure that our children can learn in a safe and healthy environment.”
Several candidates took the time to personalize the opening to their response and this one showed a deep and personal understanding of the issue:
“In my line of work, I visit over 100 schools throughout the year. Whether it’s unbearable heat on the third floor during a heat wave in June, or broken elevators, or other needed repairs, I’ve seen it all….and have worked through conditions that not only made it difficult to teach, but nearly impossible to learn.”