September 23rd, 2020

NDP to force a vote on helping TDSB build and repair schools with EDCs

QUEEN'S PARK — After years of public commitment to allow the Toronto School Board (TDSB) to collect Education Development Charges (EDCs) in order to build and repair schools, the NDP will put it to a vote with a motion at Queen’s Park.

"Kids are packed into classrooms with up to 30 students, often in poorly ventilated rooms, some with windows that don't even open. Families and staff are afraid about the spread of COVID-19 in schools that are overcrowded and lacking modern ventilation and touchless faucets,” said NDP Education critic Marit Stiles.

“Everywhere else, the developers are responsible for paying their fair share, to pitch in on building and renovating schools in booming neighbourhoods — but when it comes to the TDSB, the big developers have been let off the hook by government after government, and our children are paying the price.”

A new report from the Broadbent Institute and advocacy groups Progress Toronto and Fix Our Schools said the province should allow the TDSB to collect EDCs to make necessary changes that ensure things like social distancing and fresh air.

The NDP has been fighting for EDCs in Toronto for years, but for 15 years, the previous Liberal government refused, and let the school repair backlog grow to a ludicrous $15.9 billion. The Liberals' inaction forced the TDSB to close and sell off schools, while the board has struggled with the challenges of rapid growth.

The Ford government has only made the problem of crumbling, poorly ventilated schools worse. He refused to spend on school repairs, cutting education and pinching pennies on the backs of students, and he has driven the backlog up to at least $16.3 billion.

“For years, Liberal and Conservative governments let our schools get crowded and run-down. They chose their big developer buddies over the health and safety of little ones,” said Stiles. “The Ontario NDP knows EDCs are a way to give our kids a little more of the safety they deserve during this pandemic — and it’s time we put this to a vote.”