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Conversation needs to see improvement

When the Ford government rolled into office, they promised to curb spending and cut down the deficit left by the previous Liberal government.

It was a mandate that earned the party a majority in Ontario’s Legislature, and signaled that organizations depending on provincial funding should brace themselves to receive less than in the past.

School boards, such as the Durham District School Board, are one such group.

Just before the Christmas break, board officials were left scrambling after receiving word they would be receiving less funding for certain specialized programs this year.

The boards were notified they wouldn’t be receiving funding they were counting on, and in some cases, may have already spent, almost halfway through the school year.

In the case of DDSB, officials were told they wouldn’t be getting nearly $1 million in funding expected for four programs, including support for Indigenous students, after-school tutoring, a program dealing with racism, and an annual conference, called The Cypher”, that aims to empower black male students.

Luckily, board officials said because of prudent planning, the programs will go on as planned and will be self-funded.

But other boards across the province, especially those in areas where growth is stagnant compared to the booming Durham Region, have been forced to make unexpected budgetary changes on the fly.

Let’s be honest, spending under the Liberals was out of control, and the PCs have been saddled with the job of finding savings. There is nothing wrong with being fiscally conservative and taking a hard look at everything on the books in an effort to find savings for Ontarians.

But broken promises when it comes to funding partway through the school year puts everyone ill at ease.

Just how important these programs are is really up to personal opinion, but school board officials, who are not afforded the ability to run deficits like their provincial government counterparts, deserve much better communication from Education Minister Lisa Thompson and her department, and the entire gang down at Queen’s Park.