Candidates talk education...
Candidates talk education and property taxes
PARRY SOUND-MUSKOKA -- As the Thursday, Oct. 6 election approaches, we’ve asked the provincial candidates in your riding the following questions:
ONTARIO VOTES 2011.
A. What kind of support would you offer to rural schools that do not have the same enrolment numbers as urban ones?
B. Post-secondary school tuition is on the rise, what will you do to help young Ontarians get an education without breaking the bank?
C. Under your government would the burden on municipalities, and consequently our property taxes, increase or decrease and why?
Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP Progressive Conservative incumbent Norm Miller:
A. Under the Liberal government schools are being closed due to an outdated funding formula. A 2008 report from People for Education said the funding system is outdated and asked the government to speed up its review. That has still not happened. Losing our local schools hurts the quality of life of parents and students and hurts our ability to attract business. Ontario’s education policies should not take a “one size fits all” approach.
The PC party believes that different communities have different needs. That is why we will ensure the funding formula meets the needs of single-school communities and supports special education. We will increase funding by $2 billion and root out waste in our bloated school board bureaucracies.
B. “Our children deserve a fair chance to go to college, university or train as apprentices, but under Mr. McGuinty Ontario tuition fees are the highest in Canada and university class sizes are the largest. The average debt load of an Ontario college and university graduate is $13,600 and $26,680 respectively. He even introduced a $30-million scholarship to attract foreign students putting them ahead of our own children.
A PC government would end the Liberal’s foreign students’ scholarships and reinvest those funds in our students instead. We will create up to 60,000 post-secondary spaces in Ontario and we’ll ask colleges and universities to compete for those new spaces to find new ways to ensure access, affordability and excellence in our post-secondary institutions. We will raise the threshold on financial support to make it more accessible for middle-class families and we’ll change the apprenticeship ratio to 1:1 to provide more opportunity to learn a trade.”
C. A PC government will make provincial gas tax revenue available to all municipalities in Ontario, not just those that have public transportation, as is currently the case under the McGuinty government. This will mean that all municipalities in Parry Sound-Muskoka will get a share of the gas tax to use for their priorities: roads, bridges or other needs.
They could also use this revenue to lower property taxes. This would be a dedicated sustainable source of revenue that municipalities could make long-term plans based on.”
Green Party candidate Matt Richter:
A. Rural school funding compared to urban school funding needs a more balanced approach. Rather than providing funding based on student enrolment, the GPO would work towards a mix of a sustainable base funding and school enrolment.
With the threat of rural school closures continuing in our riding, in addition to re-evaluating the rural school funding, the current Ministry of Education’s Accommodation Review Committee process needs to be overhauled. Our premier’s neglect in informing rural communities as to why their schools are being shut down highlights one of the many defects in our current education system.
The Green Party of Ontario fully opposes the closure of rural schools and supports the re-evaluation of the ministry’s accommodation review committee process.
B. “During the past four years, the Parry Sound-Muskoka Green Party of Ontario has organized and attended a variety of events that engage people under the age of 30 to share their issues and concerns. Consistently, they state that their Number 1 issue is that post-secondary education is prohibitively expensive and they need tuition rates to be more realistic. Currently, Ontario has the highest tuition rates in the country. In acknowledgement to the concerns of the students, the Green Party of Ontario would immediately implement a tuition freeze. I believe this is a sensible strategy to make post-secondary more affordable, and it also provides a stimulus to our economy. Once a student graduates, rather than being burdened with debt owed back to the government, students would have more available money for rent, car payments and healthy local food, to site a few examples, which all contributes back to their local economy.”
C. The Green Party of Ontario has a number of strategies in place to ensure that costs are not downloaded on or added to municipalities’ limited property tax base.
To name a few, we would immediately create a separate, new, predictable and permanent fund for municipal roads and bridges and provide funding for municipalities to invest in safe roads and trails for active transportation.
Secondly, the GPO would meet the promised upload of $1.5 billion in social service and court security costs. Additionally, we would commit to shifting the tax burden for waste disposal from municipal property taxpayers to industry through extended producer responsibility laws.
Liberal candidate Cindy Waters:
A. In recognition of the importance of rural schools, Liberals have increased their funding by over 37 per cent. Ontario’s public schools are now ranked in the top 10 in the world. There are smaller class sizes in the early grades and 97 per cent of primary classes have 23 or fewer students. Test scores are up 14 per cent and more students are meeting or beating the provincial standard.
Full-day kindergarten gives four- and five-year-olds the best start possible. We’re expanding online math tutoring for students in Grades 7-10 so more kids can get help outside school hours. We’re doubling teacher education from one year to two so student teachers get more practical experience. We’re offering voluntary summer learning programs to help struggling students get ready for the next school year.
B. “Liberals feel that going to college or university should be based on your ability to learn, not your ability to pay. A cap on tuition increases, a boost to student assistance and tripling the number of direct student grants will help with the cost of post-secondary education. There have been 200,000 more spaces added to make a spot for everyone who chooses to pursue college or university. Some young adults have gone to school and found themselves with a degree and no work experience. To help address it, when graduates work in non-profit agencies we will allow a one-year delay in OSAP repayment schedules. The interest on student loans during that one-year period will also be waived. This will help them gain experience to get a foothold in the workforce. It will also benefit our communities by connecting young people with those who may be on the verge of retirement in those agencies. Apprenticeships also play a critical role in education and training and the number has doubled under this government.”
C. The current Liberal government has committed to uploading more than $15 million from municipal costs at a minimum. The cost of roads and their upkeep and the cost of social services were downloaded by the Harris government, but the Liberal government is committed to uploading services to ease the burden on municipalities.
The additional losses of local provincial jobs have put an added burden on our area with the loss of payroll. The MTO, MOE, MNR, cuts to hospitals and school boards and the loss of payroll was lost by rural Ontario. We’ve come ahead in the last eight years under a Liberal government.”
NDP candidate Alex Zyganiuk:
A. Rural schools function as more than educational centres for our children. They are part of a region’s identity, the hub of local life. They are our playgrounds, day-care facilities, adult learning centres and meeting halls. Attending a rural school should not mean that a child is attending a “have-not” school. Inadequate resources to our high schools have left First Nations children behind. We are seeing a 42 per cent dropout rate for these kids. We also need the resources to support initiatives like healthy breakfast programs.
The McGuinty Liberals are not funding our schools properly and I’m afraid we’ll see even more cuts under Tim Hudak. An NDP government will recognize the multiple roles rural schools play in our communities, establishing long-term planning through our Rural School Stabilization Strategy.
B. “As a former associate professor at the Northern College Police Foundations program in Kirkland Lake, I know the value of post-secondary education. But Ontario has the highest undergraduate tuition fees in Canada with the average Ontario student carrying a $26,000 debt. That’s staggering. It will discourage young people from increasing their job prospects and prevent them from participating in Ontario’s future economic development. We must tackle our high tuition rates. An NDP government will also address class size. Ontario students deal with the largest class sizes in the country – often as many as 100 students are crammed into a room. We’re educating future innovators and leaders, not packing sardines! Crumbling facilities are another problem, with Ontario universities facing a repair backlog of over $2 billion. The NDP will commit to addressing urgent campus and facility maintenance needs.”
C. Our leader Andrea Horwath has served as municipal councillor. In Andrea’s words: “It makes no sense that municipalities should be on the hook financially for programs they don’t control.”
An Ontario NDP government will initiate a three-year dedicated fund to provide $70 million annually to help municipalities with road and bridge repairs; this sustainable funding comes as good news for rural and regional municipalities where crumbling infrastructure is a major concern.
We’ll evenly split the operating costs of municipal transit systems. We’ll continue to upload the costs for social assistance and court security. And we’ll make a commitment not to download the cost of hazardous household waste disposal on municipalities or on consumers in the form of eco-fees.
Based on our plan, to upload and relieve municipalities of the cost burdens we have outlined, we should see property taxes positively impacted.