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Student Transportation

ONTARIO HANSARD

May 5, 2005

STUDENT TRANSPORTATION FUNDING

Mr. Frank Klees (Oak Ridges): My question is to the Premier. Premier, last week, I asked a question in the House of the Minister of Education and also of the Chair of Management Board with regard to all of these announcements relating to a framework for teachers' settlements. The question that I specifically put at the time was, "Will you guarantee that the funding for teachers' salaries will not come out of other envelopes within the education budget?"

I didn't get an answer then, but what I did find out yesterday was that one board, the York Region Board, is now in negotiations with those who provide transportation to the students to clawback 5% of their budget. This, at a time when they're already calling for additional funding just to secure the safety of those children who are being transported.

Premier, can you confirm today that that is, in fact, part of your strategy, that other envelopes are going to be robbed-

The Speaker (Hon. Alvin Curling): Thank you.

Premier.

Hon. Dalton McGuinty (Premier, Minister of Inter­governmental Affairs): The member opposite is just really, really stretching on this one. It takes a lot of creativity to turn what is an absolutely wonderful news story for Ontario students into something negative.

If things work out-there's still some work left to be done and, finally, it's up to the teachers-we're about to bring to bear something that's never happened before in the province of Ontario: four-year contracts that will allow peace and stability to reign supreme in our schools.

We're proud of the investment we're making in public education: $1.1 billion. I'd ask the member opposite, how is he bringing comfort to parents who may be watching this today, when he and his leader are committed to investing in private schools? How does that lend comfort to parents who are committed to public education?

Mr. Klees: Premier, I don't believe that any parent watching your answer today is getting any level of comfort from what you believe is important about the safety of their children who are being transported in buses. Some 200 companies, transporting over 800,000 students every day, are at your doorstep, appealing funding.

I have a letter here addressed to the Minister of Education- "Despite my personal note of January 14, 2005 and three unanswered telephone calls to your office, we have heard nothing." This is from the Ontario School Bus Association that wants to talk to you about a lack of funding to ensure the safe transportation of children.

You have avoided my question. Parents watching are wondering about your credibility. What is it that you're going to do about this incredible conflict you're facing: Doling out billions on one hand and-

The Speaker: Thank you.

Premier.

Hon. Mr. McGuinty: Just so we have the facts straight here, this past year we increased funding for buses and school transportation by $685 million. That's a 5.1% increase. Every single school board in Ontario received more transportation funding this year, at least 2% and as much as 12%.

The member may be interested in learning that the York School Board transit funding went up by $570,000 this past year. So I'd ask him, I would encourage him, to take a close look at the facts and to understand that our commitment on behalf of Ontario public schools is to invest, not only in better-quality education, but at the same time continue to invest in good-quality transportation for our kids

Student Transportation Services of York Region

click here

Ontario School Bus Association web site

Compliments of Ontario School Bus Association

this article offers a quick explanation of who's responsible for what level of governance when transporting our students to school.

Who's Does What?

 

Student Transportation Funding

Protesters visit the office of

Frank Klees, MPP May 6th, 2005