Public Values

Ontario's school funding falling behind: Study

Province ranks 54 out of 64 Canadian and American jurisdictions.

Ontario school closings seem to be moving Doug Little

I'm not quite sure what the Ontario progressive education movement would do without Hugh Mackenzie offering his services in understanding education finance. He has done it again with a study for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) which will put a lot of heat on many provincial governments, I would say especially Ontario and BC to "up their game" in education funding from now on. Mackenzie has juxtaposed all of the Canadian provinces and American states per pupil expenditures with of course, the exchange rate factored in.

Of course when we look at some Canadian jurisdictions a thinking person will say, naturally, Yukon, North West Territories and Nunavut will have transportation, housing and isolation pay costs that other provinces can avoid but that does not explain why 'have not' province Manitoba should lead the pack of the lower ten provinces unless a sustained NDP government over the years actually does make a difference. The gap from Manitoba to Ontario is significant, over 9 percent. That is a chunk of change; close to the $1.5 billion total cost of Ontario's new Early Childhood Program. Take a look at who is below Ontario in per pupil funding. Only the poor old Atlantic Provinces spend less with Newfoundland and Labrador about to catch up. This is a provincial disgrace for Ontario.

It has to be said that the axe wielding Liberal government of British Columbia doesn't look too good here either. This flinty bunch is slashing the BC schools while they fall all over themselves with the Olympics. Not really good optics. BC is a 'have' province and the sole legislative opposition comes from the NDP. It doesn't make the BC Liberal government look very good to be significantly behind a much poorer province like Manitoba either. Alberta's recent slash and burn mentality will probably drop them in the rankings unless they are very careful.

Ontario Finance and Trade ministers often like to tell us that our real competition is in the Great Lakes states. Check the per pupil spending in Michigan ($11,956), Ohio ($11,978), New York ($18,733), Illinois, ($11,564) and Massachusetts ($15,493). Ontario's is $9,079. These gaps are just mind blowing.

Ontario has announced a funding formula review for next year but meanwhile, school closings seem to be moving ahead. The province is biting its lip over imminent cut-backs while they are already underfunding the system by $1-2 billion just to bring it to the Manitoba level.

Doug Little works as a member of the secretariat at the provincial office of OSSTF in the Communication and Political Action Department.

Links and sources
  Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives - Study
  The Little Education Report

Posted: November 20, 2009

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