Doug Ford Cutting Carbon Tax (photo credit: Global News)The first victims of Doug Ford's austerity program are children. Ford is cutting $100 million earmarked to fund school repairs in Ontario. The schools in Ontario are already in a state of disrepair. In Toronto alone there is a $4 billion repair backlog. The province overall has $15 billion in repair backlogs across 4,900 schools. Schools have inadequate heating and cooling systems, mold infestations, wiring issues, and even structural damage.

Parents and workers have every right to be outraged. This cut is a direct threat to the lives of working class children. In 2017 it was revealed that more than 640 schools and daycares failed lead tests for drinking water in Ontario. There is no sign of this changing. In Hamilton, lead was found in the water of a junior kindergarten classroom just a few weeks ago. Children as young as 4 years old have been drinking and using water contaminated with lead. According to the World Health Organization there is no safe level of lead ingestion, which particularly impacts the development of the brain in children.

In addition to the contaminated water, children also face a danger from hot weather. Cities across Eastern Canada and Southern Ontario face a record high heat wave. Many cities in Ontario are reaching humidex levels that pose a high risk for heat stroke. Many of our schools are older buildings and lack air conditioners. There are reports of classrooms reaching 30°C before the kids even enter the classroom. These high temperatures can kill. In Quebec, a conservative estimate of 70 people died in the heat wave last week. These deaths are primarily among children and old people. Our school buildings currently put children at risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke. This cut will only make this situation more dangerous for students.

Ford has shown what the next four years will look like if we don't fight back. The lives of the working class will be worse. To the capitalists, the profits of a tiny minority of rich people matter more than the safety and well-being of working class families. This should be no surprise to us. The ruling class do not use public schools or public services. They send their kids to expensive private schools well beyond the means of working class people. This is why they don't care about cutting services. They won't be the ones that suffer. The crisis of the capitalist system is being paid for by working class families.

Ontario School in disrepair, April 25 2018But Ford is clearly not confident in this cut. There was no public announcement. He just cowardly had his Minister of Education send a memo to schools to cancel repairs. Ford is scared of the backlash he would face. Ford's platform never mentioned he would cut school budgets. His hope is to quietly implement cuts and hope nobody notices. Ford is right to be scared. Under the last PC government, the Ontario working class committed to rolling general strikes during the Days of Action. The potential might of the working class terrifies Queen's Park!

Moving forward, the labour movement needs to harness that potential and actually use the might of the working class to bring the fight to Doug Ford. The working class can fight against this cut and all of Ford's planned austerity. But it's not enough to just defend against attacks on the working class. We need to fight for the overthrow of the system that creates austerity. A socialist society where things are planned for the needs of working people and their families would properly fund our schools. Our schools would never enter into a mass state of disrepair in such a society. We could take the wealth that is currently hoarded by the capitalists and use it to ensure our schools are the best our kids can have. Under capitalism, our schools can't even provide basic safety for our kids. In a socialist society schools would not only be safe, but have the best educational tools, classrooms, and instruction.

For safe and fully-funded schools!

No cuts for working class families!

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