The Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA) Board of Directors held a meeting in Toronto on November 27, 2022. This meeting was the last attended by retiring Executive Director W.R. (Rusty) Hick, who was honoured with a standing ovation from the Board. A new Executive Director will be announced shortly. It was also the first attended by new OPSBA Director of Labour Relations Andrew Gold and new OPSBA Director of Program Policy Dr. Valerie Nielsen.
Trustees prepared for Advocacy Day at Queen’s Park and received information on the powers and duties of school boards about the health and well-being of students and employees.
Education policy and program issues that were discussed in public session at the meeting are summarized below:
Updates were provided in private session on recent developments related to labour relations and collective bargaining.
The Legislative Assembly of Ontario resumed on October 25, the day after the Municipal and School Board elections were held. OPSBA President Cathy Abraham met virtually with the new NDP Education Critic MPP Chandra Pasma (Ottawa West—Nepean) and both Parliamentary Assistants to the Minister of Education, MPP Matthew Rae (Perth—Wellington) and MPP Patrice Barnes (Ajax), joined the recent meeting of the Education Program and Policy Development Work Groups.
Marit Stiles remains the only candidate as the deadline for NDP leadership race registrations approaches on December 5, 2022. The NDP have stated that its new permanent leader will be chosen during the first week of March 2023.
Members of Provincial Parliament will rise for winter recess after December 8, 2022 and return February 21, 2023.
Relevant legislation currently being monitored by OPSBA includes:
Bill 39, Better Municipal Governance Act, 2022
This legislation was introduced by Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark on November 16, 2022. The bill proposes to allow the province to appoint the chairs of the regional municipal councils of Niagara, Peel and York, while giving more new powers to the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa.
OPSBA will be sending a letter outlining our concerns that include the speed of the housing development proposal and the impacts on school boards.
Of note, the Ministry of Education has created an Urban Schools/Growth Framework Working Group that has a mandate to, “provide input and advice” … “to shape schools of the future in urban, rapidly, intensifying areas.” There are 10 OPSBA member boards who will have representation in the group.
Bill 36, Progress on the Plan to Build Act (Budget Measures), 2022
This legislation was introduced by Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy on November 14, 2022. The legislation implements measures contained in the Fall Economic Statement which can be found here: 2022 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review.
Bill 23, More Homes Built Faster Act
This legislation was introduced on October 25, 2022, by Minister Clark and passed and received Royal Assent on November 28. The bill proposes to reduce the costs incurred by builders from municipal fees and taxes and make it much easier to build 1.5 million additional homes over the next 10 years. OPSBA sent a letter in September addressing initial concerns.
Full Legislative Updates, including information on other Bills, are available on the OPSBA Connects blog. All OPSBA submissions to the government are available on the OPSBA website.
A summary of important B and SB memos that have been released since the last Board of Directors meeting in February was provided. B and SB memoranda for 2022-23 and prior years can be accessed on the ministry website.
2023-24 Education Funding Consultation Guide / Grants for Student Needs (GSN)
In mid-November, OPSBA sent its GSN submission to the Minister of Education and the Ministry of Education. It was also shared with the opposition critics and key stakeholders. The submission includes feedback from a survey of our Board of Directors, the Indigenous Trustees’ Council, senior business officials, and member board correspondence. It was also discussed at the last joint Education Program and Policy Development Work Groups. The submission answers the ministry’s consultation questions and focuses on key funding lines that align with our multi-year strategic priorities. The 2022-23 GSN was released in February 2022, so OPSBA expects it to be early once again.
Government Relations, Public Affairs, and Communications
An overview of recent media activity and OPSBA’s past, current and future advocacy and awareness planning was provided. To see the Association’s appearances in the media, visit OPSBA in the Media.
OPSBA Advocacy Day – November 28 / Nanos Polling
The purpose of OPSBA’s Advocacy Day meetings, the latest of which occurred on November 28 with dozens of meetings with MPPs and their staff, are to re-introduce OPSBA and its priorities to the government and the opposition parties. It is also an opportunity to increase and elevate the overall awareness of the Association and its advocacy efforts. To support our work on Advocacy Day, OPSBA worked with Nanos Research to conduct polling with current themes of school board governance, funding issues, and strategic priorities. A wrap-up of the day will be available on the OPSBA website soon.
2022 Municipal and School Board Elections
Final results have been captured following the election with information found on the OESC Municipal and School Board Elections website. Of the total 317 elected trustee positions in the 2022 election, 152 are new individuals and 160 trustees are returning. As of the time of the research regarding results, there were a number of vacancies, which is why the numbers of new and returning trustees do not add up to 317. In 2018, there were 140 new trustees and 176 returning trustees.
The OESC has compiled 2022 data for all four school board/trustee associations and it is available on the Ontario Municipal & School Board Elections website.
For an overview of OPSBA information, visit: OPSBA 2022 Preliminary Post-Election Data.
EQAO 2021-2022 Assessment Data
EQAO provincial data was released on November 3, with each board also receiving its own local information. Ontario’s student outcomes are similar to those of other jurisdictions, where the pandemic has had a more significant impact on mathematics than on literacy achievements.
Dual Credit Programs
The November 14 Fall Economic Statement released by the Minister of Finance included a note about the continued support of skilled trades and apprenticeships, with an additional $4.8 million investment over two years, beginning in 2023-24 to expand the Dual Credit programs, encouraging more secondary school students to enter a career in the skilled trades or in early childhood education.
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
OPSBA is working with accessibility leads in boards to create an ad hoc focus group from as many member boards as possible to co-develop recommendations in response to the fourth independent legislative review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).
Staff are currently developing an FAQ and key message resources for trustees to help navigate, educate and answer many controversial and sensitive questions and conversations regarding “anti-woke” and anti-trans issues, anti-Critical Race Theory, gender identity and appropriate dress codes. This is expected to be available within a few weeks.
Black Trustees Caucus (BTC)
The BTC will reconvene in early 2023 with a meeting to be held at the same time as the Public Education Symposium. More details will be forthcoming.
For more information on any of the above reports, please contact OPSBA at email@example.com or your school board’s OPSBA Board of Director member. The next OPSBA Board of Directors meeting will be held February 24 and 25, 2023, in Toronto.