TORONTO – Ontario Liberal Party Leader Steven Del Duca pledged that his first act if elected Premier will be to kill Doug Ford’s sprawl-spreading Highway 413, and instead use the monies that would pay for it to invest $8 billion in new money over 5 years to build and repair publicly-funded schools in every corner of the province.
“Doug Ford has got it all wrong – he’s focused exclusively on rewarding billionaire Conservative donors, while Ontario Liberals are focused on the millions of families whose children deserve the best schools possible,” said Del Duca. “I am determined to make sure that our kids and our education workers have the best learning and working conditions in the world, and I will do whatever is necessary to make this happen.”
The Ontario Liberal Action Plan to Rebuild Schools represents the first instalment of the greatest investment in our schools in more than a generation. Working closely with the province’s school boards, to ensure that needs in urban, rural and remote communities are respected, an Ontario Liberal government would build hundreds of new schools and dramatically shrink the chronic repair backlog.
“It is inconceivable to me that Doug Ford wants to spend billions paving over farmland, destroying wetlands and undermining the Greenbelt all for a highway that will only save some commuters mere seconds,” stated Del Duca. “Ontario Liberals stopped this reckless project once before and we will do it again. And I will use those same funds to modernize our schools and make our classrooms healthier, safer and climate resilient.”
This ambitious plan would include:
- Upgrading Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC), boilers, plumbing and windows so that the air in our schools is safe to breathe and the water is clean enough to drink.
- Adding resources to ensure that Ontario’s schools can access high-speed broadband and are also climate-resilient.
- Creating thousands of new spaces for in-school daycare so that our kids get the best start in life imaginable.
- Developing a new and publicly-reported standard of good repair for all of Ontario’s publicly-funded schools.
In addition to an unprecedented improvement in the province’s education system, the Ontario Liberal Action Plan would create thousands of new jobs in the skilled trades, thereby giving hard-working families the chance to help spur our economic recovery after the pandemic.
“Ontario Liberals will work relentlessly to improve the lives of the people who call this province home by investing in schools and creating jobs,” added Del Duca. “Doug Ford’s Conservatives are content to destroy our wetlands, farmland and Greenbelt while handing out freebies for their billionaire friends.”
A Steven Del Duca led government will invest an additional $8 billion over five years in education and childcare infrastructure for new infrastructure and renewal of Ontario’s existing schools and childcare centres.
The state of education infrastructure in Ontario has been further highlighted by the COVID-19 crisis. Lack of proper ventilation, aging facilities, inflexible classrooms and the backlog of renewal have all put the state of repair in stark relief.
This incremental investment of $8 billion over five years would support:
- new schools and major additions to deal with population growth and schools beyond an adequate state of repair;
- in-school childcare centres to significantly increase spaces to build toward a Universal Childcare Program; and
- renewal of existing infrastructure to deal with the significant backlog of needs to attain a state of good repair.
This investment would allow for the upgrading of heating, ventilation, HVAC systems, boilers, plumbing and windows in existing schools and childcare centres. It would also allow for better access to high-speed broadband.
New schools and childcare centres would also be designed and built to be more climate resilient and existing schools could be upgraded to be climate resilient. As part of this investment a new and publicly-reported standard of good repair for all of Ontario’s publicly-funded schools would be developed in consultation with school boards and key stakeholders.
These projects will not only result in new & upgraded educational facilities and in-school childcare centres but will also create thousands of new jobs in skilled trades which will be needed in the post-vaccine era.
Past Liberal Investments
While in government, the Ontario Liberal Party significantly invested in school infrastructure that resulted in the construction of 860 new schools and the renovation of an additional 840 schools.
In the 2018 Budget, the Liberal Government announced $16 billion in capital grants over 10 years for new and improved schools. The PC government has since reduced that commitment to $12 billion over 10 years. This $8 billion would be in addition to these commitments.
- A typical elementary school costs about $10-$15 million and takes about a year to construct after approvals. A typical high school costs $35-$40 million and takes about two years to build after approvals. These estimated costs do not include land costs.
- It is estimated that the existing backlog in school infrastructure is at $16.3B based on government data.
- There are about 4,800 schools in Ontario – about 4,000 elementary schools and 800 secondary schools.
- This investment would be on top of the existing commitments to maintain $1.4 billion in school renewal annually, equivalent to the Auditor General’s recommendation of investing 2.5 per cent of schools’ replacement value in school renewal. Such an investment would accelerate the reduction in the school renewal backlog.