Toronto school boards say layoffs coming after province cuts $25M in funding

The Toronto Catholic District School Board says the province's decision to cut specialized programs will result in some 95 part-time workers, largely university and college students, immediately losing their jobs.

Provincial money went toward specialized programs, including those for at-risk and Indigenous youth

Trustees of a major Toronto school board have been warned they have no choice but to immediately lay off a number of part-time tutors and student workers currently running specialized programs. (Pixabay)

A major Toronto school board said the province's decision to cut specialized programs will result in some 95 part-time student workers immediately losing their jobs.

The cuts are outlined in a briefing note send to Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) trustees this week.

Late last Friday afternoon, the Ontario government issued a memo to school boards announcing it's slashing $25 million in funding for specialized programs in elementary and secondary schools. The education minister's spokesperson alleged the programs have a "long track record of wasteful spending."

However, teachers have defended the programs — which include initiatives like providing after-school activities for at-risk youth — saying they're working well and warning that cutting them will negatively affect students and classrooms.

The TCDSB briefing note said the cuts affect one per cent of its annual budget.

The Toronto District School Board said it expects to lose some $744,500 in funding due to the cutback. The board said that will mean 75 students who would have been employed by the Focus on Youth program will not be hired, while 52 tutors will not be hired to help out in the classroom.

"We're disappointed to learn of these cuts as many of the program/funding cancellations were aimed at helping youth-at-risk," the board said on its website.

At the TCDSB, a number of programs are being affected by the cuts, including one called Tutors in the Classroom and another called Focus on Youth, which provided after-hours programming.

"Some temporary staffing reductions are required effective immediately," the note states, adding most of those who will lose their jobs are part-time tutors who are university or college students.

A program called Indigenous Student Learning and Leadership also had its $30,000 worth of funding cut as a result of the government's move. It aims to provide leadership development opportunities to Indigenous students from Grade 7-12, according to the briefing note.