TORONTO—The Ontario government must boost annual education funding by $4.3 billion a year to help elementary and secondary school students recover from two years of pandemic disruptions to their learning and development, a new report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) says.
“Bouncing back from the effects of COVID-19 on our students, staff and schools will require a high level of government resolve, and the funding to back it up.” says Ricardo Tranjan, lead author of the report and a political economist and senior researcher with CCPA Ontario. “Unless the provincial government invests in a plan to help all students catch up from the disruptions the pandemic has imposed on their educational experience, a generation of students will be left behind.”
“It’s imperative that we put our kids back on a healthy path to growth, development, and learning.”
The pandemic has worsened education inequalities among students, the CCPA report notes.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on all students in Ontario, but households with lower incomes and fewer resources have had a much more difficult time, for a wide range of reasons,” says Tranjan. “That’s why more investment in public education is so critically important; public schools are a great equalizer, if funded properly.”
The report, Catching Up Together: A Plan for Ontario’s Schools, puts forward recommendations that would, among other things, increase teaching staff at all grade levels to allow smaller class sizes; increase pay rates for early childhood educators; deploy “mental health and well-being teams” in all schools; eliminate mandatory e-learning and hybrid learning; return decision-making around technology to school boards, schools, and educators; increase the Learning Opportunities Grant to $630 million to promote equity and assist boards that have higher concentrations of “at risk” students; and address Ontario’s $16.8 billion school repair backlog within 10 years.
The $4.3 billion annual cost of the recommendations represents a 13% increase over the existing budget, which the province could finance by undoing recent tax cuts, increasing personal income taxes on higher-income earners, and reallocating funding from capital projects like the proposed Highway 413.
“Ontario spends less, per capita, on public programs than any other province in Canada,” says report co-author and CCPA Ontario Director Randy Robinson. “The province can easily make the resources available for this once-in-a-generation investment. Ontario’s children need it.”
Catching up Together is available here.
For more information and interviews please contact Alyssa O’Dell, CCPA Senior Communications Specialist, at 343-998-7575 or [email protected].