Tag Archives: NDP

NDP Education Critic calls for Wynne government to fully address $15-B repair backlog in schools

During question period at Queen’s Park on September 14, 2016, Education Critic Lisa Gretzky called upon Premier Wynne to account for the $15-billion of disrepair in Ontario’s schools, citing classrooms that are too hot in spring and fall … and too cold in the winter for students to learn:

From the official hansard:

Mrs. Lisa Gretzky: My question is to the Premier. Schools across the province are crumbling and they have reached a tipping point. There is a $15-billion repair backlog, $3.4 billion in Toronto alone. Students and education workers have been in sweltering hot classrooms and will have to wear winter jackets in the classroom in the winter.

To make matters worse, Ontario’s teachers are being forced to load French and music lessons onto carts and transport them from classroom to classroom because of Liberal cuts to education. The Premier can shake her head all she wants, but the boards are even speaking out. Will the Premier admit that her misplaced priorities are forcing our young people to pay the price?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I was only shaking my head because it is the reality that core French teachers and music teachers for many, many years in this province—itinerant music teachers—have not necessarily had a dedicated classroom. It has worked very, very well that teachers have moved from classroom to classroom. Certainly, my three children who went through the publicly funded education system in Toronto had exactly that situation, and it’s not unusual.

I think sometimes what happens is when there has been a school where there has been a dedicated classroom, and then enrolment may go up or there may be a change and then that changes so that the core French teacher is moving from classroom to classroom, that can cause an adjustment in the school. But it’s not an unusual practice and the kids get very, very good education in that way.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mrs. Lisa Gretzky: Back to the Premier. Premier, there are classrooms that are being closed and the teachers are being moved out of those classrooms. If you think it’s working, maybe you should actually talk to the education workers delivering the curriculum.

Recently, a school in Thames Valley had to close because of health concerns related to a lack of air conditioning. Our schools are in crisis. A teacher in Toronto was forced to spend $500 of her own money to install an air conditioner in her classroom because students were feeling faint and lethargic and she felt the environment was unsafe. Our children should not be trying to learn in classrooms without windows. I’m sure the Premier has windows in her office. They should not be in classrooms with poor air quality. Will the Premier immediately ensure that the repair backlog for schools across the province is remedied? And I’m talking about $15 billion.

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Mr. Speaker, we acknowledge that there needed to be an increase in funding in terms of the repair and renewal of schools. We added a historic $1.1 billion on top of an existing $1.6 billion. We have acknowledged that there is a need to continue to fund the renewal of schools. We will continue to work with school boards. The $1.1 billion that we put in on top of the $1.6 billion is funding projects around the province—did over the summer and continues to.

School boards make the decisions about how they use those funds. School boards have priorities. They take those funds and they apply them to the priorities.

We understand that there’s a need, Mr. Speaker, that’s why we put in over $1 billion on top of the billion dollars that was already there.

Letter to all federal parties: What will you invest in repairing & rebuilding Canadian public schools?

Fix Our Schools is sending the following letter to the Green, Liberal, NDP, and PC Parties of Canada; and to all Ontario federal candidates. Print it out to review with any federal canvassers that come knocking on your door or take it with you to a federal candidates debate.

To: The Green, Liberal, NDP and Conservative Parties of Canada

My son wore his winter coat at school this past winter because his 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 across British Columbia there are hundreds of millions of dollars in outstanding maintenance in public 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,

Krista Wylie – Co-Founder, Fix Our Schools

www.fixourschools.ca: grassroots, non-partisan advocates for safe, well-maintained schools

NDP and PC education critics agree we need to fix our schools

Fix Our Schools met with both NDP Education Critic Lisa Gretzky and PC Education Critic Garfield Dunlop in recent weeks. Both education critics agreed the $14.7-billion issue of disrepair in public schools affects students and families across the province and must be addressed.

Lisa Gretzky recollected a school’s gym ceiling falling in during her tenure as a School Board Trustee in Windsor. Luckily, no students were injured in this incident but it underscores the importance of keeping public schools in a state of good repair.

The health, safety and achievement of students is impacted by the outstanding repairs and maintenance plaguing Ontario’s public schools.