Press Releases 2005
For immediate release
November 16, 2005
$80 Million Education Slush Fund Scandalous: Klees
The Ministry of Education transferred $80 million to Ontario 's school boards with no strings attached except that it be used to entice teacher and support worker unions to sign 4 year collective agreements.
That's the conclusion reached after PC Education Critic Frank Klees grilled the Education Minister in the Estimates Committee on the details of the $500 bonus that every teacher and unionized school board support workers will be receiving in time for Christmas.
Originally the ministry had announced that only teachers would receive the bonus, characterized as a re-imbursement for out of pocket expenses, but it was recently discovered that the education ministry threw in another $20 million to sweeten the pot for unionized support workers as well.
"This is nothing short of scandalous" said Klees. "This minister personally approved an $80 million 'Signing Bonus' for which the taxpayers received no benefits. Not one new textbook, not one new space for autistic kids and taxpayers are footing the bill for this slush fund!"
While insisting that the payments are intended to reimburse union members for out-of-pocket expenses, Kennedy admitted that the ministry issued no guidelines to boards related to what expenses qualify for re-imbursement, that each school board is deciding how the funds will be disbursed, that in most cases the unions themselves would be responsible to approve and make the payments to their members and that the application forms and record keeping for the payments will be the responsibility of the unions and finally, that any funds not distributed to individual members will be retained by the unions to be used as they see fit.
Kennedy did not have an answer as whether the bonuses would be considered as a taxable benefit to the individual members, and is leaving those details to the boards and unions to work out.
"The Minister of Education has admitted that he authorized the transfer of $80 million to school boards with no guidelines or expectation of accountability. This is irresponsible and gross mismanagement of taxpayer dollars" said Klees.
Klees will be asking the provincial auditor to investigate the ministry's handling of this file.
For further information
Frank Klees, MPP
© 2008 Frank Klees, M.P.P. All Rights Reserved