Last Thursday, March 23, the Ontario government introduced their budget which, amongst its many shortfalls, leaves public education far behind. Unless the province steps up and increases funding, school boards across the province are predicting budget shortfalls and staffing cuts, while the Toronto District School Board specifically projects a $61 million funding shortfall and loss of 522 staff positions in the coming school year, including teachers, educational assistants, custodial staff, clerical staff, lunchroom supervisors, and child and youth workers.
Many of our children have fallen behind their grade level. They are struggling to read and write and keep up in math and STEM. Many students continue to have an emotionally challenging time that leaves them struggling with behavioral issues, learning disabilities, and mental health challenges. As a parent of two children who attend TDSB schools, I know firsthand how hard the pandemic was on our children and their learning.
This afternoon, we debated a motion introduced by the NDP that asks the Ontario government to reimburse schools for COVID-related costs that schools were forced to cover throughout the pandemic. This is everything from masks and hand sanitizer to air purifiers, extra staffing and more. These costs are impacted school budgets negatively. Please sign the petition below to support our motion: