Ontario budget increases overall education funding but local programs may still suffer

    TORONTO, March 22 /CNW/ - The McGuinty government's budget for 2007-2008
has made child poverty a particular focus. It announced a number of
initiatives including additional support for child care. It also plans to
provide $18.3 billion in grants to school boards with about $60 million in
one-time new dollars to go to textbooks, software, administrator and teacher
anti-bullying training and art supplies. The university sector will also
receive an additional cash infusion of $390 million to alleviate cost
pressures and pursue capital projects.
    "The Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF/FEESO) is
pleased to see that the Liberal government is taking steps to curb child
poverty by raising the hourly minimum wage, ending the controversial clawback
of the National Child Tax Credit and providing additional funding for child
care," said Ken Coran, president-elect of the OSSTF/FEESO. "It is important to
remember that poor children attend school, however, and there is little in
this budget to allow school boards the flexibility they need to deal with this
and other important local issues," he said.
    "The infusion of money for government programs in Ontario schools is
welcomed but OSSTF/FEESO believes that some of the problems that boards of
education face because of a flawed funding formula remain," he added. "The
government has not provided adequate funding for educational workers who work
in school offices, fix computers, help special needs students or offer
prevention programs. Nor has the government provided resources to tackle the
growing pay equity problem in Ontario schools that results in female workers
earning less than their male counterparts.
    "While overall grants to school boards have been increased by
$800 million from last year, the bulk of that money is already earmarked to be
spent on government initiatives and school boards will likely continue to face
problems in paying for local programs," Coran concluded.

    OSSTF/FEESO, founded in 1919, has 60,000 members across Ontario. They
include public high school teachers, occasional teachers, educational
assistants, continuing education teachers and instructors, psychologists,
secretaries, speech-language pathologists, social workers, plant support
personnel, attendance counsellors, and many others in education.

For further information:

For further information: Ken Coran, President-elect, Ontario Secondary
School Teachers' Federation, (416) 751-8300 or 1-800-267-7867

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