TORONTO, Ont. – The Toronto District School Board is considering slashing nearly 250 high school teaching positions to tackle a $55-million budget deficit but Premier Kathleen Wynne is making no bailout promise to the board.
Wynne said it is too early gauge that the board — the largest in Canada — cannot handle its budget shortfall.
“School boards have to make their budget decisions as they see fit,” Wynne said Wednesday.
“I believe in the ability of school boards to deliver the programs that are most relevant and in the way that they need to locally.”
“Every year, there are budget decisions and there will be many issues that will be put on the table at the TDSB,” she said.
Wynne — a former Toronto public school trustee — said a lot has changed since former premier Mike Harris’ Tory government.
“We lived in a province where there was a provincial government that really didn’t believe in public education, gutting the programs that had been built up over decades,” she said.
Wynne said the board must face the reality of declining enrollment.
“Across the province — we are and have been — dealing with declining enrollment,” she said.
PC Leader Tim Hudak said the Liberals have overspent on teachers’ salaries for years and are to blame for the board’s fiscal problems.
“The biggest increase in wages actually happened when Kathleen Wynne was education minister and she gave the teachers a 10 per cent plus wage increase at a time that we were in a deep recession,” he said.
PC education critic Lisa MacLeod said the Liberals will be at fault if any teachers lose their jobs.
“Unfortunately, Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals ignored the Drummond report, ignored their own hand-picked economist, who was suggesting to them that they needed to trim some of the issues,” she said.
A staffing report recommends the TDSB cuts nearly 250 high school teaching positions. The board hopes it can be done through retirement and attrition instead of layoffs.