Ford government announces an array of funding cuts, one year after his government took power. However, some of his reduction plans have put the education sector in the crosshair, affecting students in all age groups -- from elementary to university. In reaction to the funding cuts, Ontario school boards have passed a budget that slashes programs and services including learning centers, outdoor education, Parenting, Family Literacy Centres, and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs. The government has also cut the Ontario Student Assistant Plan (OSAP) in half, from about $7200 in grants and loans to $4200 all in loans.
Chinese Canadians are the ethnic minorities in Canada that value education the most. Undoubtedly, Fords' funding cuts to education programs hit them the hardest. The OSAP funding changes have put some of my daughters' friends in financial crisis, forcing them to suspend their postsecondary education studies or even quit the programs altogether. Chinese News readers have complained that high school funding cuts to IB programs affect some student's ability to register for the courses required by their desired postsecondary programs.
Doug Ford says he has no choice. The province’s mounting deficits force him to adopt a “slash and burn policy” to prevent debt from spiraling out of control.
Indeed, the soaring debt load seemed to be an alarming problem that led Ontario credit rating downgraded by international agencies. However, the leading cause of the deficit was not overspending but reduced revenue. Ontario had the lowest per-capita income among all provinces in Canada, according to Ontario's non-partisan Financial Accountability Office (FAO). For the fiscal year 2016-2017, Ontario's per-capita provincial revenue was $9,915, tied with Alberta as the smallest in the country and $854 lower than the national average.
Meanwhile, the province has the most economical program spending (per capita) among Canada's ten provinces — before Ford's spending cuts clicked in, and its social spending has been stagnant for years. Our per capita program expense of $9,160 was modest in the country, and $1093 lower than the national average of $10253.
The main reason for Ontario's high debt load was its large population and low per capita revenue. However, instead of addressing the real reason behind the deficit, Ford made lies about it, stirring a myth that deficits are always spending problems. He comfortably swings an ax through programs that matter the most to Ontarians – and ethnic Chinese, while claiming he is acting for the "people."
Many Chinese Canadians stood firmly behind Doug Ford during his election campaign, forming part of the populist wave that carried Ford to Queens Park. Ford's "For the People" agenda had warmed their hearts bruised by the political elites in their home country who abandoned and ignored them.
They've come to Canada to seek better opportunities for their children, believing that education is the only path to their children's success. However, Ford’s axing on education programs have blindsided them, sending chills down their spine. Their trusted political leader is now hurting their Canadian dreams.
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