What the poor state of schools means for our kids

Krista Wylie  – 2019-02-28
The negative impact of poor school conditions

This is what we hear from across the province:

  • A child has spent days or weeks wearing a winter coat in a classroom that is too cold.
  • A teacher recently sent us video footage of the ceiling crumbling above their kindergarten class’ cubby area, saying luckily the ceiling crumbled 15 minutes after children had left for the day.
  • A student told us how concentrating on his grade 12 exam was difficult as water dripped from the ceiling onto his exam paper.
  • Parents of young students contact us regularly to let us know their children refuse to use the washrooms at school because they are “gross” and end up with health issues like bladder infections.

These are only a few examples of how $15.9-billion of disrepair in Ontario’s publicly funded schools negatively impacts students, teachers and education workers.


The Fix Our Schools campaign

Founded in Spring 2014 by a handful of west-end Toronto parents, Fix Our Schools evolved quickly to become an Ontario-wide campaign focused on ensuring that:

  • Every publicly funded school in Ontario is a safe, well-maintained, healthy building that provides an environment conducive to learning and working
  • The $15.9-billion of disrepairacross all 72 Ontario school boards is eliminated, which depends upon adequate and stable provincial funding
  • Publicly funded schools are considered and funded as critical public infrastructure

The Fix Our Schools campaign has always been non-partisan, parent-led and solution-oriented as we’ve worked to build a meaningful base of support across the province and as we’ve built relationships with all political parties and many levels of government to effect change.


Notable successes

The Fix Our Schools campaign is proud of the following notable successes that we’ve been instrumental in achieving:

  • Increased provincial funding for school repairs from $150-million peryear in 2014 to $1.4- billion per ear since June 2016.
  • Obtained transparency into school disrepair data, with disrepair data first being published by the Ministry of Education in September 2016 and updated in October 2017.
  • Secured the commitment of 58 elected MPPs (including that of Education Minister Thompson and 22 other PC MPPs) to develop a standard of good repair for Ontario schools and to provide the adequate, stable funding needed to achieve those standards and eliminate the $15.9-B of disrepair in Ontario’s schools.


What we’re currently working on

As part of the pre-budget consultation process for the 2019-20 provincial budget, Fix Our Schools has asked (and will continue to ask!) Doug Ford’s government to:

  • Ensure that the guiding principles of adequacy, affordability, equity, stability, flexibility, and accountability,outlined in the 2002 Rozanski report, are followed in this government’s approach to funding public education.
  • Develop a standard of good repair for all of Ontario’s publicly funded schools, which must first and foremost be safe buildings. Conditions such as classroom temperatures, water & air quality, washroom & lunchroom conditions must also be included in this new standard.
  • Continue to collect and publicly release annual updates on school disrepair data, adding portables to this process.
  • Commit the additional $1.6-billion/year investment required to eliminate the $15.9-billion of disrepair in Ontario’s publicly funded schools in the coming seven years which includes:
    1. An additional $1.3 billion/year in renewal funding
    2. An additional $100 million/year to cover amortized cost of rebuilding 346 schools
    3. An additional $165 million/year for operational maintenance in schools 
  • Consider the 2-million children who spend their days in Ontario’s publicly funded school buildings in every decision and interaction you have relative to education. Parents, teachers, school boards, public servants and elected officials from all levels of government – especially at the Provincial level – must collaborate and work together to develop the funding solutions to solve the massive problem of disrepair and poor learning conditions in Ontario’s schools.
How you can help
  • Subscribe to our e-newsletters: fixourschools.ca
  • Engage with us on social media:
    • Facebook: Fix Our Schools
    • Twitter: @Fix_Our_Schools
  • Contact your local MPP, the Premier and the Education Minister to let them know you expect all publicly funded schools in Ontario to be safe, healthy, well-maintained buildings that provide environments conducive to learning and working
  • Email photos of school disrepair to us @info@fixourschools.ca to post anonymously. A picture is truly worth a thousand words!

A lot of change is being discussed in the realm of publicly funded education. School conditions are only one aspect of our education system but represent a key opportunity for citizen pressure to yield results from our provincial government. The state of Ontario’s publicly funded school buildings is truly a non-partisan issue – every single person in this province, regardless of political stripes, would agree that if a roof is leaking at a school – we should fix it!

We hope you’ll help Fix Our Schools.


Krista Wylie is an education activist with Fix Our Schools