Changes to Education Finance in Ontario
Part I : Introduction
"The Harris Conservatives came into office with an agenda to turn our education system inside out and upside down. They intentionally created a crisis. And in Oct 97 with Bill 160, they sparked a political protest byteachers, supported by parents and students, the like of which has never been seen in Ontario. Students, parents and teachers are reeling fromchaos that never seems to end."
NDP Fact Sheet on Bill 160, 1997
From Boom, Bust to Echo.
Over the last 30 years, Ontario's spending patterns in education have changed in response to thedemands of society. In the late 1960's, early 1970's, education spending was 1/3 of the provincial budget, as compared to 1/5 spent on health care. In the early 1970's the baby boom generationrequired more classrooms than ever before. By 1975, the Province paid 60% of all educationalcosts.During the baby bust beginning in the 1980's, when costs relating to oil and gas, heating,maintenance, inflation and wages increased, the spending from the province remained static.During the baby boom echo which began filling up elementary schools in 1991, the provincialshare was approximately 40% of expenditures. The rest was raised through local taxation.In 1995, the situation had been reversed, health spending was 1/3 of the overall budget, whileeducation was 1/5 or 16% of the total provincial budget. During this period the largest growthsector in Provincial spending was debt payments which in 1995 also took approximately 16% of the total provincial budget. The same percentage spent on education.
Delegation of Power
In terms of trends within the institutional framework of Ontario's educational system, theMinistry of Education is now responsible for what was once divided up into many separateMinistries, such as the Ministry of Colleges and Universities, the Ministry of Skills, and theMinistry of Education. Streamlining these portfolio's into just one Ministry of Education andTraining was done over a period of time under the rubric of administrative convenience.The
, R.S.O., (hereinafter
1990.)gives the Ministry virtually unlimited power to regulate in the matter of education in infinite detail. School boards are not independentcreatures but are created by the Education Act, and thereby bound by law to carry out the will of the Minister. (s.58.1 Ed. Act)