Labour Council panel sheds light on education “crisis”

Labour Council panel sheds  light on education “crisis”
(Photo : Jason Setnyk)

The Cornwall and District Labour Council hosted a panel discussion titled “What’s Really Happening in Education” May 1, shedding light on urgent issues facing the education sector.

The event took place at the Cornwall Legion, with Louise Lanctot, President of the Cornwall and District Labour Council, serving as the emcee.

Lanctot emphasized the systemic issues plaguing the education system. “There’s a crisis and underfunding in the education system. From elementary schools to universities, the funding has not kept pace with inflation and population growth,” Lanctot remarked, emphasizing the breadth of the problem.

Chandra Pasma, MPP for Ottawa West-Nepean and Official Opposition Critic for Education, detailed the impacts of budget cuts. “For the sixth straight year, education funding has been cut below the rate of inflation. We’re seeing a dire teacher shortage, a mental health crisis among students, and increased classroom violence due to insufficient support,” Pasma stated. She encouraged the community to engage and advocate for children’s future, adding, “When we stand up for our kids, we really can make a difference.”

Gillian Axton, Chief Steward of Local 417 at St. Lawrence College, which encompasses the Cornwall, Brockville, and Kingston campuses, discussed the specific challenges post-secondary institutions face, particularly small-town colleges. “The college system hasn’t seen a funding increase in over five years. With the decline of international student fees and rapid technological changes, our ability to educate and prepare students for the workforce is at risk,” Axton said. “The Blue Ribbon Panel designed and mandated by the provincial government was completely ignored,” Axton added. She emphasized the crucial role of colleges in job preparation, underscoring the need for adequate resources to fulfill this mission effectively.

Adrienne McEwen, the Teachers Bargaining Unit President for the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation, voiced concerns over the declining quality of secondary education. “Credit integrity is on the decline…This focus on merely pushing students to graduate is overshadowing the quality of education they truly deserve,” McEwen stated. She highlighted the adverse effects on students’ future success in further education and employment.

The panel underscored some deep-seated issues within the education system, urging all stakeholders to advocate for necessary reforms and better funding to safeguard the future of education in Ontario.

Share this article