Liberals bow to CUPE pressure with school funding announcement - Pre-election hype is a start but doesn't meet education need

    TORONTO, Aug. 14 /CNW Telbec/ - Premier Dalton McGuinty's school board
funding announcement today is his government's response to direct CUPE
pressure, but the details are more about the October 10 election than they are
about meeting the needs of the education system, says Sid Ryan, Ontario
President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
    "We raised the alarm last month that 60% of school boards were issuing
layoffs due to insufficient provincial funding," Ryan said. "With today's
announcement, the government has now agreed with us that the funding formula
is flawed, and we can take credit for that."
    "But $309 million over two years doesn't go nearly far enough," Ryan
said. "The Liberals came to office in 2003 promising to fix the mess created
by the Conservatives. Where has the Liberal government been all these years?
Why do Ontario families have to wait four years before the Liberals act?"
    "Ontarians can consider the money announced today as a down payment for
fixing the funding formula," Ryan said. "It's a step towards fixing it, but
first we must demand that this money be used to stop the layoffs that are
happening in our schools."
    "School board workers have been hit with 535 layoff notices in the past
several months," Ryan said. "If the government is serious about fixing the
flawed Conservative funding formula, the province must demand that school
boards rescind these layoffs before kids are put at risk with slipping
standards of cleanliness, health and safety."
    More money is welcomed to address the dire needs of schools, Ryan said,
so any new funding will be useful. However, the $20 million pledged towards
educational assistants (EAs), for example, will just scratch the surface of
what is needed. EAs in the province need at least $63 million per year to
raise their number of hours to seven-per-day to meet the needs of special
needs students.
    "Today's announcement leaves parents, teachers, staff and students cold,
even as the Liberal election machine heats up," Ryan said. "We must ensure
that politicians of all stripes are held accountable for our kids' real needs.
We can do that on October 10."

For further information:

For further information: Sid Ryan, President, CUPE Ontario, cell (416)
209-0066; David Robbins, CUPE Communications, cell (613) 878-1431

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Canadian Union of Public Employees - Ontario Regional Office

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