Provincial school boards could be looking at thousands of teacher and other education worker layoffs for the upcoming school year, according to a memo from the Ministry of Education.
In the memo dated Feb. 26, 2021, from Deputy Education Minister Nancy Naylor to teacher unions and other education groups, school boards are being told not count on the $1.6 billion in “one-time” funding for COVID-19 support that was provided this past year.
“As we look towards the 2021-22 school year, school boards should take a cautious approach in their planning given the uncertainty in enrolment and adjust accordingly for one-time funding that was provided in 2020-21,” the document said.
That “one-time funding” allowed for the hiring of over 7,000 staff including principals, teachers, educational assistants, mental health workers, early childhood educators, and custodians at schools across the province.
Even for @Fordnation and @sflecce, cutting $1.6 billion to #onted, by secret memo, when we will still be grappling with COVID-19, is a new low. We will all suffer from this govts callous disregard for public services. #onpoli https://t.co/fIkZFZmBh2
— Liz Stuart, OECTA (@OECTAprez) March 5, 2021
The memo goes on to say “staffing assumptions should be based on the COVID-19 funding supports being one-time in nature,” with the understanding that school boards would likely issue “more than the typical number of redundancy notices to its staff this winter/spring.”
A Ministry of Education spokesperson confirmed on Saturday the contents of the memo to CityNews adding nothing had been finalized because the provincial budget hasn’t been released yet.
On Sunday, ministry spokesperson Caitlin Clarke said that the government is “fully committed” to keeping schools safe for staff and students.
“Our government has invested more money pre-pandemic, and during this pandemic, than any other government in Ontario history,” she said. “We have made positive, modernizing changes to Ontario’s education system, with a new curriculum that provides job and life skills for Ontario students, in addition to monumental anti-racism initiatives and merit-based hiring for Ontario educators.”
The Ford government plans to table its 2021 budget on March 31.
Ontario’s Opposition NDP said in a news release Friday the memo shows that the province is getting ready for education cutbacks.
“Teachers and education workers that would have been laid off by Doug Ford were given an extra year, as a result of the pandemic, and we are still facing a teacher shortage” said education critic Marit Stiles. “This memo makes it pretty clear, Ford’s still planning to cut those jobs.”
You can read the full memo below