FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 24, 2013
PREPARING STUDENTS FOR THE JOBS OF THE 21ST CENTURY
QUEEN’S PARK – Ontario can prepare our children for good jobs in a competitive world with an education system that equips them with the skills they need to succeed in the 21st Century, PC LeaderTim Hudak said today.
Hudak made the comments while launching Paths to Prosperity: Preparing Students for the Challenges of the Twenty-First Century with PC Education Critic Lisa MacLeod.
“The jobs that are best paid and most important to economic growth require post-secondary education in science, technology, engineering and math,” Hudak said. “Our education system needs to focus on those fundamental skills early on. That means a better education system that recognizes that the best decisions made in the education system are made by those closest to our schools such as principals and teachers.
Hudak noted that the current government’s attitude is that more spending equals better results. Yet we now spend $8.5 billion more than in 2003, for 250,000 fewer students and flat or declining student achievement in areas like math and science. “That’s neither acceptable nor sustainable when we’re faced with a $12 billion deficit.”
MacLeod said the debt crisis created by the current government calls for difficult decisions to better target resources to priorities like special needs kids, skilled trades programs and struggling schools: “So as called for by the Drummond Commission, we propose phasing out 12 per cent of non-teaching positions, delaying the implementation of Full Day Kindergarten and an incremental increase in class sizes.”
View and share Preparing Students for the Challenges of the Twenty-First Century at www.ontariopc.com/paths
Ms. Lisa MacLeod: A year has passed, today, since Jamie Hubley passed away from suicide as a result of bullying. In many ways, things have changed in the last year, and in other ways they haven’t.
I think many of us read with sadness, in the last week, about Amanda Todd, a young British Columbian who took her life.
We also look to our federal colleagues, who are now addressing this very issue today in debate.
As Allan Hubley, Jamie’s father, said to me earlier today, it’s no longer sufficient just to pass laws and to fund further studies. We need to do something about this to give our children hope. We need to stand up. We need to speak.
Ms. Lisa MacLeod: Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Your government has made some very poor choices recently with Ontario taxpayer dollars. You had a choice of whether or not to build power plants in Mississauga and Oakville, and you chose to build. When it became clear that you were going to lose seats in the last election in Mississauga and Oakville, you had a choice. You could have risked losing seats or you could have thrown a Hail Mary pass for your campaign team to cancel the power plants. You chose winning seats. And when this Legislature asked for all the documents about your campaign team’s decision to withhold and cancel the power plant, you had a choice: either comply with the Speaker’s orders or withhold important documents this assembly asked for. You chose to withhold some very important documents. These are all choices you made, bad choices, costly choices.
The question is very clear. They’re very clear. Will the Premier testify at the committee and explain his role in the $650-million scandal?
Ms. Lisa MacLeod: I’m grateful to be part of this historic debate that I believe is going to fundamentally shape the way our Parliament and our government’s cabinet interact moving forward. I think that the previous speaker may be misinformed. It is within the people’s interest that we have this debate. It is within the interest of the people of this province that we find out how much of their hard-earned tax dollars have been mismanaged.
I’ve been listening intently to my colleagues from all political parties during this unprecedented situation. I’ve also listened to my constituents and many members of the public. In fact, as the education critic, I’ve heard from many of those who are in teachers’ unions, wondering why, at a time when they’ve been vilified by this Liberal government and asked to take a pay freeze—which we did support—they would actually have to watch this government effectively shred money.
It’s very difficult for people in the public to understand why $650 million and counting of their money has gone out the door, with little, if nothing, to show for it. And it is clear, Speaker, that without a doubt the cancellation of the Mississauga and Oakville power plants has cost those Ontario families hundreds of millions of dollars. As I said, and as many of my Progressive Conservative colleagues have said, we are now estimating that this decision by the energy minister, the Liberal campaign team and the Premier has cost Ontario families $640 million. This is money that my constituents and many members of the public say could have been spent elsewhere. They say it could have been spent on MRIs. They say it could have been spent on other ways to help cancer patients. It could have been used in classrooms across Ontario. It could have been used for so many other reasons. But it is not, Speaker, because $640 million is now going out the window for cancellation fees and projects that will never see fruition. Speaker, that is very, very serious.