QUEEN’S PARK — Kids need more help to get back on track — academically and emotionally — but Education Minister Stephen Lecce revealed Monday that the Conservative government will not invest even one dollar more in Ontario’s kids.
Lecce “announced” a five-point plan — but every last dollar was a re-announcement of the old, inadequate plan.
“Teachers and education workers are being laid off. Our kids’ class sizes are far too big, and growing. Children still aren’t getting anywhere near enough support for their mental health. And teachers and education workers are leaving because they’re feeling disrespected by the PC government. What we needed to hear from Stephen Lecce today is that the government is increasing the education budget — not that they’re holding the line,” said NDP Education critic Marit Stiles.
“This funding wasn’t good enough when the Conservative government announced it months ago, and it’s not good enough today.”
The budget the Doug Ford Conservatives ran on showed the government will spend $2.7 billion less than inflation over the next three years, including a whopping $1.3-billion shortfall in Education.
What was new in Monday’s announcement was Lecce’s claim that he won’t tolerate teachers and education workers refusing to do extra unpaid work. Teachers and education workers do not get paid for extracurricular activities — like coaching sports or supervising clubs. Stiles said threats aren’t the way to encourage staff to volunteer.
“Teachers and education workers volunteer to coach sports or lead clubs because they love their students,” said Stiles. “The way to ensure they continue to do that volunteer work is by paying them fairly, and investing in lower class sizes and more supports for students.”