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Education, the poor relation of the Ontario election campaign

Ricardo Tranjan, political economist and senior fellow at the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives, is among those who are surprised.

According to him, even if interesting measures were mentioned in the platforms of certain political parties, education was not the subject of social debate during the campaign, nor was it at the center of discussion during the leaders’ debates.

During six months [au cours de la pandémie]all the analysts said that the next election was going to be about health and education, the two main issues, and in the end, it’s notnotes the researcher.

However, to listen to him, education is a poor relation.

He believes that the Ministry of Education is seriously underfunded. According to his calculations, in 2021-2022, Ontario school boards would have collected $800 less per student than in 2017-2018.

A shortfall that affects students, supervisory staff and aging infrastructure. The researcher mentions in particular the insufficient number of professionals specialized in mental health, social workers who can only ensure a permanence once a week.

Sometimes we have a speech therapist for two or three elementary schoolshe laments.

A matter of affordability

While the cost of living is a major issue in the electoral campaign, Ricardo Tranjan considers that it is approached with too narrow a notion, too focused on individuals and families. focus [n’est pas assez mis] on the establishments that allow us to live well collectively.

According to him, the school is precisely an institution which helps build a more equal society. When it plays its role, it can be a springboard for economic development, especially in the case of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

However, the school, which must encourage equitable education for students from socially unequal backgrounds, has suffered from long months of distance learning.

Ricardo Tranjan, political economist and senior researcher at the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives

Photo: Radio-Canada / Reno Patry

The researcher points out in particular that Ontario has maintained online courses longer than the other provinces over the past two years.

A decision that would have aggravated the learning gaps between students who had access to computers and those, less fortunate, who did not have the same tools.

The government would not bet enough on this sector

According to Mr. Tranjan, the Progressive Conservative Party is the one that talks the least about education in the context of this campaign.

The term education appears 40 times in the budget of the outgoing government, which serves as an electoral platform. By comparison, the word health appears there 258 times. The Progressive Conservatives also do not specify the strategy they intend to adopt in the event of a return to full-time compulsory class.

Paul Baril, president of Parents, partners in education, is also categorical. According to him, the candidates for the elections have missed an important appointment with the parents of Ontario students.

What a great chance the leaders failed to reassure the parents, to tell them that we are going in the right directionhe exclaims, about the leaders’ debate broadcast on May 16.

He mentioned the shortage of French-speaking teachers, a problem that emerged from the Ipsos survey commissioned by Radio-Canada.

This year, her daughter, in grade seven at a French-language school in Hearst, saw nine different teachers come through her class. A direct consequence, according to him, of the fact that the profession is undervalued.

He poses smiling in front of a tree.

Paul Baril is the president of Parents, partners in education.

Photo: Courtesy of Paul Baril

The Liberal Party’s promise to hire 10,000 teachers to reduce class sizes is not enough to convince him.

ans, mais il y a un problème en ce moment, nos enfants souffrent”,”text”:”On peut pas faire ça du jour au lendemain. […] On parle de peut-être dans deux, quatre ou sixans, mais il y a un problème en ce moment, nos enfants souffrent”}}”>We can’t do this overnight. […] We may be talking about two, four or six years, but there is a problem right now. Our children are sufferinghe mentions.

The pandemic has shown that there are flaws in the system. […] It was fine, it was on autopilot, but [elle] opened parents’ eyes […] about the education system. »

A quote from Paul Baril, President of Parents Partners in Education

Konstantin Kilibarda, professor at McMaster University and member of the organization Ontario Parents Action Network, makes the same observation. He deplores the lack of discussion in the political class about Ontario schools.

Promotional banner of our file on the 2022 elections in Ontario.

He denounces in particular the law which limits salary increases in the public sector (Bill 124).

I think that’s incredibly cruel of [Doug] Ford to maintain this policy […] during the pandemic in a context where teachers and parents are making a lot of sacrifices to ensure the education of children. And this wage policy continues in the context of rising inflationhe comments.

He also highlights the shortage of professionals in schools.

He mentions on this subject the case of parents, at his daughter’s elementary school, who have been waiting for 18 months for their child to be seen by a specialist for language disorders.

Families really need a plan for Ontario that aims to strengthen the school system and meet the needs that come from the pandemic […] I see no plan on the part of the government to deal with these challenges in the school system. »

A quote from Konstantin Kilibarda

The Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives makes 13 recommendations to the government, including funding of $4.3 billion a year for the next 10 years.

These funds would, among other things, make it possible to repair and renovate many schools.

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