April 27, 2017
Toronto, ON – Today, after years of austerity budgets, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) welcomed a renewed focus on public services in Ontario’s 2017 budget.
“Over the last few years, Ontario budgets were developed at the expense of public services and public sector workers,” said ETFO President Sam Hammond. “With today’s budget we are seeing renewed investments in public education, supports for students, and other services including health, child care, youth pharmacare and transit improvements.
Along with previously announced education improvements, including smaller class sizes for grades 4-8, class size caps on full-day Kindergarten and more support for children with special needs, the budget includes an additional $1.2 billion over two years for school repairs and renewal. A further $200 million in funding is allocated to improve energy efficiency and install renewable energy technologies in schools.
“While we were pleased to negotiate increased support for special education as part of ETFO’s extension agreement, this budget still falls short of meeting the actual needs of students with special needs,” said Hammond.
The government will provide enhanced autism supports to help children transition to, and continue, in full-time school. That includes the establishment of five new diagnostic hubs to improve access to timely diagnostic assessments, which ETFO welcomes.
As part of its Building Better Schools education agenda, ETFO has advocated for more inclusive classrooms. Today’s budget allocates a welcomed $4 million over two years to support Indigenous-designed anti-racism programs as well as $47 million over four years to increase access to supports and opportunities for Black children, youth and their families.
ETFO is committed to building better schools. Its Building Better Schools education agenda can be viewed at www.buildingbetterschools.ca. The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario represents 78,000 elementary public school teachers, occasional teachers and education professionals across the province.
Home page image credit: Andrijko Z. - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24517612