Ford government withholding $58 million for at-risk students and special education
A spokesperson for Stephen Lecce’s office revealed today that they were planning on withholding $78 million in funding that was negotiated by education workers months ago, including $58 million earmarked for special education. The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) had signed and ratified the contract with the government.
Their negotiations took place in the fall, preceding the current ongoing strikes by several other Ontario teachers unions. A central tenet of the contract was a renewal of $58-million Local Priorities Fund and a $20-million Workers Protection Fund. The Local Priorities Fund provides school boards with funding for special education for children in need, at-risk students and adult education.
The Ford Government and Minister Stephen Lecce now appear to be back-tracking on this promise. School boards were supposed to start receiving these funds at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year, but CUPE claims that this has not yet happened
This reversal could mean a lack of special education teachers, social workers, behavioral assistants, and ABA trained staff in Ontario’s schools.
The Office of the Ontario Minister of Education says they will only consider releasing funds once all education-sector unions have signed new contracts.