Oppose Doug Fords Ontario School Budget

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 1834 ... May 27, 2019

Oppose Doug Ford’s Ontario School Budget

Dudley Paul

When it comes down to it, the question is what do we want for our schools?

The government of Doug Ford is actually quite clear about this. It wants to cut money from schools as well as their neighbourhoods, setting them back on their heels and making them more malleable for a government set on hollowing them out. It would like to force schools to privatize, charge more fees, perhaps even offer themselves up for businesses to sponsor them, much in the way that charter schools operate in the USA. The Ford government has brought in so many changes, so quickly, that parents, students and educators have had no time to react to them all.
There is nothing new about this. In 1997, the Progressive Conservative government of Mike Harris took over funding from all the school boards across the province and squeezed it hard with a funding formula that never worked. It would never take into account the varied needs of different schools in different areas with different populations and stresses upon them. According to a 2015 article "Harris-era Hangovers" by Hugh Mackenzie, the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) has, in most years, faced yawning gaps between what it needs to run schools and programs and what it receives from the government. In 2012, he says that gap was $109-million; the next year there was a further $50-million and in 2014, another $30-million. Whether Liberal or Tory, the gap between what this board needs and what it gets has been pretty much constant.

The gap was so bad in 2002, that the TDSB trustees refused to cut $90-million from the budget that year. As a result, the province took over the board and appointed supervisor Paul Christie, who came in and made the cuts he was told to: millions of dollars from caretaking, staff development, vice-principals, supervisors, assistants, secretaries and many others. Yet, in the end, he couldn’t balance the TDSB’s budget for the Tories.

The gap this year is $67.8-million.

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