As this school year draws to a close, I want to begin by saying thank you. Thank you for the incredible work that you do in your classroom each and every day. Ontario public schools are some of the best in the world in large part because of the commitment and efforts of educators. You consistently give your best, often under extenuating circumstances, working to support students despite a government that has consistently undervalued and underfunded education work. I want to take a moment to say that your provincial executive recognizes your incredible contribution, and we will continue to work tirelessly to bargain, lobby and advocate on your behalf and on behalf of students in our public schools.

Since its election in 2018, this government has intentionally shortchanged our public schools, trying to create a crisis in public education like they have done in healthcare. It is not lost on me as a write this column for Voice magazine’s women’s issue that these are two sectors dominated by women, where the lowest paid and most precariously employed are racialized women. Despite what Minister Lecce has said in the media about investment in our public schools, we know that, after adjusting for inflation, per-student funding has decreased by $1,200 since this government came to power. Based on the recent provincial budget, school board funding will increase by only 0.7 per cent on a per-pupil basis for next year, an increase that will be easily outpaced by inflation. The government has also now removed all the additional COVIDrelated funding that was in the system during the pandemic, even though the effects of the pandemic continue to impact students.