OTTAWA - Chandra Pasma (Ottawa West—Nepean), Official Opposition NDP critic for Education, responded to the Conservatives’ announcement on new school building processes:
"While the government hasn’t released an update on the repair backlog in three years, in 2019 it was nearly $17 billion. Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction, but it fails to address the most critical issues preventing the province from building new schools and repairing existing overcrowded ones.
“In fact, the Minister’s office is taking ages to approve capital requests, leading to higher costs for school boards. New schools are opening with portables because enrollment numbers change while applications languish on the minister’s desk.
“Projects that are at the top of school boards’ priority lists are being overlooked.
"Further, the Minister still refuses to address the critical issue of staff shortages in our education system. It's great that we are investing in infrastructure, but without enough teachers and education workers to staff these schools, we risk having classrooms without educators.
“Minister Lecce needs to put students first by funding schools fairly and addressing the glaring issue of oversized class sizes.”
Pasma, an advocate for better air quality in schools, also urged the government to pass her Improving Air Quality for Our Children Act.