QUEEN’S PARK – New information from the Ministry of Education reveals that the school repair backlog in Ontario now stands at $16.8 billion, a whopping $1-billion jump since Doug Ford took office.
That information was revealed by Education Minister Stephen Lecce on Tuesday, under questioning by NDP Education critic Marit Stiles during a legislative committee.
“Children, teachers and education workers know what it’s like to spend the day in classrooms with leaking ceilings or suffering in classrooms that are boiling hot, with windows that no longer open,” said Stiles.
“From broken boilers to fountains that aren’t safe to drink from, our kids are paying the price for the Kathleen Wynne and Steven Del Duca government’s choice to underfund school repairs. Now, Doug Ford is so resistant to spending the money on our children and their schools, the list of necessary repairs going ignored is stacking up at an incredible rate.”
Stiles said that among the ignored repairs are HVAC systems — a dangerous issue to neglect given that the airborne COVID-19 virus thrives in enclosed spaces.
“Parents are telling me they’re worried the safe reopening of our schools is in jeopardy because of this government’s failure to fix our schools and make them safe,” said Stiles. “They’re worried that windows that don’t open and HVAC systems that are outdated or broken no longer just make schools uncomfortable — they could make them unsafe.”
Stiles pointed out that the federal government provided funding during COVID for infrastructure and ventilation upgrades — making it even more stunning that Ford hasn’t tackled the backlog.
The annual capital funding for Ontario’s schools has been a stagnant $1.4 billion annually, which experts say only just covers the costs of keeping schools operational, despite mounting repair concerns.