Below is a list of questions for Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce as he prepares to avoid students, workers, and real classrooms for another year
As Premier Doug Ford’s most reliable minister of spin and selfies announced his first photo-op for the 2023-2024 school year, frontline education workers are sharing a back-to-school review list for the education minister in the form of eight questions to which they – and all Ontarians – deserve straight answers.
“It is crucial for Education Minister Stephen Lecce to answer these questions directly to demonstrate that he has a solid understanding of his portfolio, current affairs, constitutional conventions, and the reality facing students and workers in the schools that are funded by his ministry,” said Laura Walton, president of CUPE’s Ontario School Boards Council of Unions (OSBCU).
Question #1: Which is less:
- Inflation since the 2018, when the Ford government first took power; or
- increases to per-student funding from the Ontario government over the same period of time?
CCPA Research Report “Taking inflation into account, school boards will receive, on average, $1,200 less per student in the 2023-24 school year than what they received in 2018-19. The chart below shows that funding dropped in the first year of the Ford government, then increased between 2019-20 and 2020-21 due to one-time pandemic funding. But now that money is almost gone, and funding is dropping steeply.”
Official Opposition Critic Video “CPI has increased 17.3% since 2018. … Do you know how much per student funding has increased since 2018? … The answer is 6.8%. … funding [has been increased] significantly less than the rate of inflation every single year.”
Question #2: Why do you think financial literacy should be a requirement for students when you and your government do not seem to understand the effect of inflation on the value of a dollar over time – and the resulting school board service cuts when you fail to increase funding enough to keep up with the rising cost of expenses?
Question #3: Have you asked Steve Clark, the housing minister and your cabinet colleague, to resign in response to the release of the auditor general’s damning report about collusion with billionaire developers?
Question #4: If you answered no to Question #3 (or didn’t provide a clear answer), when will you ask Minister Clark to resign as a demonstration of ministerial accountability and a bare minimum effort to restore Ontarians’ faith in your government’s ability to govern in the public interest?
Question #5: If, in the next cabinet shuffle, you’re appointed minister of housing, will you rescind the Greenbelt giveaway and restore the Greenbelt to its boundaries before parcels of land were removed at the behest of Conservative-friendly developers to financially benefit them last year?
Question #6: Bill 98, which became law in June, gave you broad powers to compel school boards to sell off school buildings and properties with little oversight. What school lands are you planning to sell off to developers?
Question #7: When was the last time you spent a day in a public school or classroom shadowing a frontline education worker (e.g. an educational assistant, early childhood educator, custodian, secretary, etc.)?
Question #8: If invited by a frontline education worker to spend a full day at work with them this school year, to see experience the reality facing students and workers in Ontario schools, will you accept?
The Ontario School Boards Council of Unions (OSBCU) unites 55,000 members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) who work in the public, Catholic, English, and French school systems throughout Canada’s largest province. OSBCU members are educational assistants, early childhood educators, school library workers, child and youth workers, administrative assistants, secretaries, custodians and tradespeople, instructors, nutrition service workers, audio-visual technologists, information technology professionals, school safety monitors, cafeteria workers, social workers, and more.