Doug Ford’s Government Cut Education By More Than Half a Billion Dollars, New Report Finds
Ontario schools will find themselves in a $12 billion hole over next decade
A new review by Ontario’s Financial Accountability Office confirms Ontario’s education system faces a funding cut of over half a billion dollars and a long-term funding shortfall as a result of recent moves by Doug Ford’s government.
The May 31 FAO report notes Ontario’s 2020-21 interim budget pegged total education spending at $33.7 billion. Actual spending, following Ontario’s March 24 Budget, cut spending over half a billion dollars — down to $33.0 billion.
In all, Ontario’s education system is now looking at a shortfall of $700 million compared to last year.
The FAO report notes: “In the 2021-22 Expenditure Estimates, the Ministry of Education (EDU) is projected to spend $33.0 billion in the 2021-22 fiscal year. This is a decrease of $0.8 billion (2.3 per cent) from 2020-21 interim results reported in the 2021 Ontario Budget.”
With COVID-19 spending, the overall spending for 2020-21 was actually $33.7 billion. This funding will largely flow through the Grants for Student Needs, which are expected to be announced in April along with the Planning and Partnerships fund. /3
— OPSBA (@OPSBA) March 24, 2021
Based on current commitments, the FAO office noted, spending requirements will likely grow at 2% per year over the next decade.
But, it notes, the Ford government has only committed the ministry to 1.2% annual increases. That, the FAO report notes, will mean a shortfall of $2.9 billion.
“This means that the Province will need to increase funding to the education sector or introduce new spending restraint measures,” the report adds.
The Financial Accountability Office of ON analysis confirms Ford gov’t is shortchanging students + #OntEd
— OSSTF Communications (@osstf) May 31, 2021
Education policy experts say the FAO report shows Ontario’s education system is facing greater funding shortfalls of over $10 billion — over the next decade.
“The FAO report shows both a decrease of $0.8 billion in projected spending for 2021-22 and a growing spending gap over the next years, accumulating to $12.3 billion in underinvestment in education by 2029-30,” Canadian Centre For Policy Alternatives Senior Researcher Ricardo Tranjan told PressProgress.
“In other words,” Tranjan clarified, “the Ontario government is not only failing to provide schools with the supports they need to weather this crisis, but it is overlooking the immense challenges ahead and the need to strengthen Ontario’s public education system, which will be the main pillar of any long-term recovery.”
— Toronto Teachers (@OSSTFtoronto) May 31, 2021
In February, PressProgress was first to report on a Ministry of Education memo to Ontario school boards warning that a $1.6 billion funding cut was in store for schools heading into September 2021.
As COVID-19 infections rose, the government backtracked heading into its March budget.
Last week, the premier noted in a public letter that in April 2021, Ontario schools were “the sources of more outbreaks than workplaces or any other location.”
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