Ford government offers more cash for tutoring to parents as deal looms

Ford’s re-elected government will give Ontario parents cash for tutoring to fill their children’s learning gaps after two-and-a-half years of pandemic disruption; critics say the money would be better used to support public education.

The Progressive Conservative government said it would spend $225 million over two years on the plan, without elaborating. The announcement came as part of the provincial government’s 2022-23 budget, which was reintroduced on Tuesday after Ford’s Progressive Conservatives won seats in June elections.

“We’re going to hear from parents, we’re going to hear a lot of people say, ‘What’s the best way we can provide the right kind of funding to support parents who know their children best?'” the minister said. of Finance, Peter Bethlenfalvy. he told reporters after presenting the updated budget in Queen’s Park.

The budget was otherwise little changed from the one proposed before the election, which opposition politicians signaled before runaway inflation pushed the Bank of Canada to raise borrowing costs and staff shortages forced some hospitals in the province to temporarily close units.

Marit Stiles, education critic for the opposition NDP, said she had spoken to parents across the province and heard their priorities.

“What they would like to see and what would help our students the most [are] smaller classes, more educational assistants in our classrooms, more support for students,” he said. “It was very disappointing today to hear this minister present what appears to be a plan to take money out of public education.”

The government’s tutoring cash for parents comes as it negotiates new collective bargaining agreements with a number of education unions, which will also seek public support as they try to secure better working conditions for the province’s teachers and education workers and better conditions of learning for students.

The last negotiations, three years ago, included months of rotating strikes and other labor actions by the four main teachers’ unions in the province fighting against the proposed deep cuts, but they ended quickly after the arrival of COVID-19, with some moderation. of government plans to increase class sizes and fewer compulsory e-learning credits.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce is building the expectation that classes will reopen with all the extracurricular activities on offer in September, but his actions do not match his words, says Larry Savage, a professor of labor studies at Brock University. .

He said the government has only met a few times with teams from the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represents 55,000 teaching assistants, school librarians, custodians and other school personnel, who submitted a notice of negotiation in June. He fears that this may turn out to be a pattern replicated in other conversations.

The Ford government will give parents in Ontario cash for tutoring to help students recover from learning lost from more than two years of disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic. Critics say they should properly fund public education instead. #ONpoly

“All of this points to possible strategies of the government with respect to all unions, which is to simply order them to go back to work if they decide to go on strike,” he said.

Morgan Sharp / Local Journalism Initiative / National Observer Canada

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