Every year the provincial government seeks input from individuals and organizations to build their budget. The provincial budget impacts community use of space in many ways, both directly and indirectly.
This year, the SPACE Coalition provided a pre-budget submission that emphasizes affordable, accessible, and equitable use of schools in the new normal. Our vision for the new normal, which is fully outlined in our recent Briefing Note and Recommendations, includes community groups and volunteers running arts, sports, recreation, leadership, and civic engagement in school spaces.
We recommend that the Government of Ontario:
- Increase community use of schools (CUS) funding provided by the Ministry of Education to local school boards to account for increased labour and utilities costs, i.e., 10% above the 2019-20 approved budget of $29 million. Distribute it to school boards based on 2020/21 projected enrollment, not actual enrollment.
- Ensure free and low-cost permits are available in high-needs neighbourhoods via new sweatered funding (similar to the previous Priority School Initiative).
- Immediately expand funding, through Focus on Youth or a similar mechanism, to the Ministry of Education to support community programming at school facilities this summer.
The SPACE Coalition strongly believes that the government’s plan to build Ontario must include new investment to ensure schools remain at the heart of their communities in the evenings, on weekends, and during school holidays. When local residents of all ages use their neighbourhood schools, it not only maximizes the capital investments in these community assets, it also promotes:
- Improved student performance,
- Life-long learning,
- Good value for taxpayers,
- Physical activity and healthy lifestyles,
- Safer neighbourhoods and crime-prevention,
- Newcomer settlement and integration,
- Social inclusion.
Read our full submission here.
Send your own submission to the Ministry of Finance by February 11:
The Honourable Peter Bethlenfalvy
Minister of Finance
c/o Budget Secretariat
Frost Building North, 3rd floor
95 Grosvenor Street
Toronto ON M7A 1Z1
Email: [email protected]