The Shift in Ontario’s Economy for Education
The COVID-19 pandemic has upset many economies across the globe and Ontario is no different. Over the past couple of years, there has been a significant change in the base funding as well as the funding for education. Initially, after the virus, this situation was projected at a very minimal scale but it has gained a lot of ground and affected the direct economy of the province. The government has purported that the overall spending on education has increased significantly despite the base funding being relatively lower. Formerly the base funding was relatively higher but the spending was allocated towards different avenues. However, the pandemic has directed much of this budget towards the educational sector.
The government has proclaimed that this year, they have spent far more on the schools, students, faculty members, and the educational system despite the lower base funding that has been demonstrated by the latest Fall Economic Statement. Educational websites and organizations like Teach the Need have also been developed and optimized for the benefit of the population. They provide free 1 on 1 tutoring and student support to disabled students and accommodating such dimensions has taken a toll on the overall budget. This initiative has been highly productive for the government and the population alike. Previous versions of teaching have been altered significantly to tackle the pandemic and its effects.
The education system has shifted towards a digital system that utilizes digital tools instead of hands-on learning. It has its pros and cons but the current steps are essential for maintaining a decent education system. Websites that offer services to students have gained a lot of popularity and interest. Live classes are difficult to manage by organizations so the websites help them extend their staff into more productive roles. Just the course outlines and basic classes are not enough to accommodate for the loss of the knowledge that would have been gained in an offline setting. However, this initiative for websites and free tutoring is helping the government make up for any such issues.
Addressing Ontario’s Economy and Education
As of 2021-22, the Ontario government has presented the ministry of finance with factual data that purports how they have spent more money on education in the past two years than ever before. The projected financial statement had the budget for 2021 set at #31.26 billion but this has fallen significantly. The most recent financial statement has shown that the budget is at $30.8 billion, which is far less than the projections. The staggering difference in numbers was a major cause of concern for the Ministry of Finance. They provided an update on this issue by stating that the limited time funding for the COVID-19 period was also directed towards education which increased the overall funding by $230 million. However, the Ministry did not speak about the base funding numbers and the respective depravity.
The Ministry of Education also had to step in to address the issue at hand. It provided the CP24 numbers which demonstrated that over $760 million was added for education. This is the reason that the government’s overall spending on education was $31.56 billion. The numbers had all the respective government authorities riled up in an attempt to justify it. The later proclamation was that at the time of March, the COVID-19 related limited funding was unknown, so the numbers could not have been correct. However, this is also a point of concern if the authorities do not have factual data on the recent funding associated with education.
Will the Funding Continue?
The ministry has not addressed the issue of the COVID-19 limited-time funding. It remains up in the air what will happen next related to the education base funding. However, they have addressed the issue regarding the increasing number of hires. It has been observed that the number of hires associated with the health sector has increased significantly. Most of the recruits have been hired as nurses for school premises to ensure the health and safety of the students in the aftermath of the pandemic. Hiring these professionals beforehand would have been a moot point as the duration and severity of the pandemic were unexpected. However, as of now, this is a logical step that will aid the students immensely.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce has advised the parents to adopt a holistic approach and move on from the one-dimensional narrow approaches which have constricted their minds. He wants them to realize that the funding that has been directed to education isn’t going down, rather it is just being used differently. Previously, all of it was used for the institutions and hands-on learning but now the need of the hour is to invest this budget into other methodologies and tools. This brings us back to the point of educational websites. The developers and authorities deserve a lot of recognition and praise for taking this step. It has ensured in many ways that Ontario’s education standard keeps up with the rest of the world.
Protest against the Base Funding Cuts
The base funding was a lot lower than expected and it raised a lot of eyebrows in the community. The Ontario Liberal Party has issued a statement claiming that it is not justifiable for the government to reduce the base funding because of tangible factors. With the pandemic, the intangibles have also gained importance and they must be addressed respectively. Since that is the case, the government must produce the projected budget otherwise the educational sector will suffer immensely. The schemes that have taken over the promise ensure that the rich get richer at the cost of the students’ education and learning. This is not the correct step for any nation and if Canada wants to keep up with the rest of the world, then this issue must be addressed instantly. Maybe the funding that is being put into a highway for the rich (Highway 434) could be used for a more pressing issue such as the education of Ontario’s future.