In 2019 pre-budget hearings, the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) urged the Ontario government to make investments, not cuts, in public education to better prepare all students for success.
“Our students’ education and future should not be sacrificed in the government’s zeal to cut spending, particularly when tax cuts have disproportionately benefited corporations and high-income earners and Ontario’s public program spending as a share of GDP is the lowest in the country,” ETFO president Sam Hammond told members of the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. ETFO’s submission can be viewed at www.etfo.ca/link/pbb2019
“Ontario doesn’t have a spending problem; it has a revenue problem. ETFO urges the government not to make cuts to, or privatize, public services and assets.”
“ETFO is very concerned at this government’s lack of commitment to providing needed support for students with special needs and those dealing with mental health issues, putting in place appropriate caps on class sizes for grades 4-8 and increasing front-line supports to reduce violence in classrooms. These were all identified by ETFO in its pre-budget submission one year ago,” added Hammond.
“Since 1998, the significant reduction in guidance teachers and specialist teachers in the arts, health and physical education, as well as the lack of investment in computers, classroom supports and school libraries at the elementary level will make it more difficult for this government to meet its priorities in preparing skilled students for Ontario’s future workforce.”
Hammond also asked committee members to heed the conclusion of the Auditor General in her 2017 Annual Report that the education funding formula is out of date and needs a full external review.
“Basic shortfalls introduced in the 1998 revised funding formula have never been addressed by successive governments. Along with a Special Education Fund that in no way meets the actual needs of students, schools have a $16 billion backlog in maintenance and repairs. Our students and educators deserve better.”
ETFO represents 83,000 elementary public school teachers, occasional teachers and education professionals across the province. Its Building Better Schools education agenda can be viewed at BuildingBetterSchools.ca.