FAO: bigger classes will mean 10,000 fewer teachers

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Ontario’s financial watchdog says increased class sizes that result from policies of the Ford government will mean 10,000 fewer teaching positions over the next five years.

The Financial Accountability Office (FAO) of Ontario released its report on the province’s finances on Thursday and cites the decision to increase class sizes as the reason for the job losses. Class sizes are increasing to an average of 28 for high schools and 24 for Grades 4 to 8. The financial accountability office estimates the move will save the province about $2.8 billion until 2023-2024 and almost $1 billion a year after that.

The province has previously stated that the reduction in teachers required to implement the new class size ratios would be gradually achieved through teacher retirements and other voluntary job exits only and that no layoffs would be needed.

Ontario’s NDP Education Critic, Marit Stiles, issued a statement saying the growth rate of Ontario’s school population is expected to double and Premier Doug Ford’s funding levels will not keep pace.

“The FAO report confirms that Doug Ford’s cuts to education will mean 10, 000 fewer teachers in our classrooms. This will hurt students in every region of our province,” said Stiles. “Parents and educators are sounding alarm bells about the negative impact these cuts will have on our education system – damage that will only get worse as our population grows over time. It’s not too late for Doug Ford to do the right thing and reverse his deep cuts to education.”

However, the FAO said “approximately 75 per cent of total ministry spending is directly linked to enrolment levels in school boards. Therefore, an increase in the number of students in schools will increase spending by the Ministry of Education.”

The financial accountability officer is an officer of the Legislative Assembly, selected with the approval of a panel composed of one member from each party at Queen’s Park.