March 11, 2021 — As the Ford government prepares to announce their education budget March 24, 2021, First Nations are left awaiting their school funding fate as the two budgets are now inextricably linked
Every year in many First Nation schools on-reserve in Ontario, teachers decide if they will pursue another year of teaching in the community or seek employment at provincially funded school boards where they can be paid up to twice as much. These decisions become more difficult for teachers who want to remain in the community as the wage gap between on-reserve teachers and public school board teachers widens year over year.
This lack of education funding parity persists across all First Nation education systems on-reserve in Canada.
Teachers often enter First Nation systems as first year teachers with little experience and leave just at the time when instructional skills are firming up, three or four years later, around the same time the wage difference is too great to ignore.
You can see the ripple effect of this high turnover on students and families on First Nations who must constantly adapt to new, inexperienced staff. The achievement gap never gets addressed.
As the federal government’s new Interim Funding Approach finishes its 2nd year of implementation this month, First Nation leaders find themselves anticipating a Ford government budget announcement.
Why? The new First Nation education funding formula is now modeled on Ontario’s Grants for Student Needs (GSN), the provincial formula used to decide yearly funding allocations to district school boards.
An Ontario change in class sizes could dramatically impact overall funding shortages already felt in First Nation schools resulting in even less classroom supports, less funding to pay teachers, and less special education supports.
FNWSC is calling on the government to remove the cap in funding and move with earnest in fulfilling First Nation children rights to a quality education.
There is much to unpack here. This will be the focus of a series of blogs over the next eight weeks.
Join FNWSC feature contributors beginning March 18 as they explore the long-term impacts of consistent year over year shortages, funding caps and how the new comparability model measures up as an alternative.