TORONTO, ON — The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) has issued the following statement from President Barb Dobrowolski in response the announcement of the 2023 provincial budget:
“The Ford government has once again betrayed students, educators, families, and all Ontarians with a proposed budget that fails to keep up with inflation and threatens to erode the quality of publicly funded education.
Catholic teachers want nothing more than to do the job they love in a productive and safe learning environment. But to be at their best, they need a government that respects educators, and puts in place the necessary investments and resources that students need in order to thrive.
Sadly, this year’s budget amounts to little more than a series of cheap accounting tricks, using federal funding for child care to create the illusion of investment – in an effort to conceal the fact that core funding is well below inflation. This budget continues the Ford government’s plan to underfund core education spending by $6 billion over the next five years, as projected by the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO).
All of this suggests that, at best, the government is indifferent to students’ academic, mental health, and well-being needs; and, at worst, that they are actively engaged in undermining publicly funded education.
If the government is serious about addressing pandemic-related learning loss, the alarming rise in violent incidents we are seeing in schools, the growing teacher shortages, and the mental health and well-being needs of students and educators, it would heed the call of Catholic teachers and properly invest in a real plan that:
- immediately and significantly enhances mental health services in schools, and expands school-based resources, supports, and services;
- invests in lowering class size averages in elementary and secondary schools;
- ceases the expansion of online learning and any efforts to privatize publicly funded education; and
- commits to engaging in meaningful collaboration with frontline educators and their representatives, especially as to how we can address the growing epidemic of violence in our schools and teacher shortages.
Catholic teachers continue to hold out hope that, at some point, this government will place as much emphasis on student development as they do on building developments. We stand ready to lend our considerable experience and expertise, to ensure that our publicly funded education system remains world class and that every student gets the learning environment they deserve.”