Andrea Horwath made a stop in Scarborough-Rouge Park Tuesday on the New Democratic Party (NDP) campaign trail to talk about the party’s plan to clear school repair backlog and hire more teachers to be able to cap classes in grades four to eight.
Horwath and the NDP aim to clear the backlog within 10 years to ensure that schools get the repairs they need.
“What I can guarantee you is this, our kids, kids in schools everywhere around the province should be able to have the things that are basic,” she said. “The ability to drink the water in their schools, making sure that their air conditioning and heating system are working, that the ceilings aren’t leaking in their classrooms.”
If elected Horwath said the NDP will invest nearly $5 billion in the first three years dedicated to hiring one extra custodian for each school in Ontario.
She is also investing $13 million every year to hire more maintenance workers and ensure repairs are kept up.
This announcement on fixing schools was made outside of the Scarborough high school Sir Oliver Mowat Collegiate Institute.
Horwath discussed the extensive list of repairs this one school had acquired over the past years.
“Three pages of repairs and the vast majority of items are either of urgent or high priority for repairs,”Horwath said. “It’s everything from foundation repairs, to HVAC, to water distribution systems, duct work.”
Horwath said the Liberal government left a repair backlog at $15.8 billion and with budget cuts made by the Progressive Conservative government the backlog grew to $16.8 billion.
Norm Di Pasquale, Trustee at the Toronto District School Board for Ward 9 told Humber News clearing this backlog will benefit student achievement directly.
“Schools are not in good shape and maintenance backlogs are huge, and we really prioritize the most desperate of repairs because that’s all we are funded for,” he said. “This is huge, it’s a game changer and something that only the NDP is offering and i’m really grateful on that item.”
Horwath and the NDP has also committed to hiring 20,000 new teachers and placing a cap on class sizes at 24 for grades four to eight.
Di Pasquale also commented on this promise to give children the one on one attention and support they need.
“We have some grade eight classes with 30 students, and from a COVID perspective it’s not good and getting attention from teachers also it’s not good,” Di Pasquale said. “Our students need some catch up from the past two years of school closures, we need remedial attention so they can get caught up and those smaller class sizes give these students much more attention.”
Andrea Horwath’s next stops will be in Peterborough-Kawartha to discuss more plans to fix schools and a meet and great in Kingston on Monday.