Education funding cut in 2012 budget

Our news & views

March 27, 2012

There will be substantial changes in education over the next three years, as a result of Ontario's 2012 budget.

Caps on high school credits, school closings, amalgamating school boards all on the menu for education in Ontario

There were a number of surprises for education in the provincial budget announcement today. Despite promises to protect education, the budget contained at least $500 million of cuts over the next three years.

For education, the devil is in the details outlined in the “Addendum” to Ontario’s 2012 budget, including:

  • Caps on the number of credits students are allowed to take in high school – for a total funding cut of $36 million by the time the 34 credit cap is fully implemented in 2014.
  • Amalgamations of school boards in areas with low population growth and declining enrolment – a cut of $27 million over three years.
  • Cuts to funding and changes to policy so that more schools are closed – for a total cut of $116 million.
  • Cuts to funding for busing for a total cut of $34 million over three years.
  • A 1.7% per year cap on spending increases for education for the next three years. According to the budget document, this is essentially a cut of 2.7%.
  • Cuts to some of the so-called “low-impact” grants that fund a variety of programs. Though the specific cuts have not been named, these grants include things like healthy schools initiatives, programs to support math acquisition, extra library staff and a variety of safe schools programs – for a total cut of $107 million over 3 years.
  • Elimination of the program enhancement grants introduced in 2003 to support things like the arts in schools – for a total cut of $66 million over three years.
  • Changes to funding for school operations and renewal for a total cut of $32 million over three years.
  • Cuts to funding for curriculum specialists for a total cut of $91 million.
  • Cut 2.5% from the budget of the EQAO.
  • A two-year freeze on salaries with a threat to “consider all options…including intervention through legislation or other means” if education employees don’t agree to the freeze.

To read the full budget, click here.

To read the budget speech, click here.

To read the addendum – with details about education funding on pages 6, 14,15,31,32 and 33 – click here.

People For Education Viewpoint:

There will be a number of impacts from the budget plans:

    • Ontario currently measures graduation rates after five years, but now funding will only cover 4.5 years of high school.
    • The Program Enhancement Grant was used by boards to fund programs that fell outside the strict literacy and numeracy mandate of education – these programs may now be lost.
    • An increased number of school closings will mean even fewer chances to create schools as hubs of communities.

Education is very expensive, but it is an investment, not just a cost. These cuts will have an impact on students, on the quality of education, and on school communities as a whole. The evidence is unequivocal that investments in education result in lower costs to health care, more tax payers, lower costs in social services and criminal justice, higher employment and a more engaged citizenry.