On the second day of school, some children in the GTA are sitting in classrooms with excessive heat because of a lack of air conditioning in some schools and new polling shows the majority of Canadian parents want to see that changed.
A survey done by Ipsos for Global News found 84 per cent of respondents want school buildings in their province to have air conditioning.“When we face a hot day like today, it is certainly front and centre for us that many of our schools don’t have air conditioning,” said Marit Stiles, MPP and NDP Education Critic.
“Teachers, educators, janitors are sweltering in classrooms this week. … Our students deserve better,” Stiles said.
According to the Toronto District School Board website, out of 583 schools, 128 are fully air conditioned.
Other schools are partially air conditioned and others have no air conditioning.
Tonia Krauser, whose child attends Clinton Junior Public School, said her child’s first day back went well, but the heat became a concern.
“Yesterday was hot and today will be hotter,” she said.
“My son, his classroom is on the second floor, and most of the classrooms don’t have air conditioning and the overall school does not have air conditioning. There is air conditioning in the gym which was installed over the summer. … But day to day, these kids are sitting in sweltering, hot classrooms and we know today, in their classroom it will be over 40 C.”
In addition to the lack of air conditioning, Krauser said the water fountains on the third floor of the school were also not working.
“It’s unreasonable to expect our children to learn in conditions like this,” she said.
The poll also asked Canadian parents about school infrastructure and found that 95 per cent of respondents said there should be a minimum quality standard for the physical condition of schools while only 48 per cent of people think schools are adequately funded.
“Across Ontario, we have a $15.9-billion capital repair backlog. … That means leaky roofs, that means boilers that need replacing and it means that things like air conditioning in our classrooms are bumped down the list of priorities,” Stiles said.
In July, Ontario’s provincial government cancelled a $100-million fund earmarked for school repairs this year, a cut that comes as a result of Doug Ford’s campaign promise to scrap the province’s cap-and-trade system.
Sixty-six per cent of survey respondents said they would support their province going into debt in order to fix and repair schools and 59 per cent said they would be willing to pay more in tax to fix and repair the schools.
In a statement, Minister of Education Lisa Thompson said, “The safety of our students is our Government’s top priority and we will continue to invest in school renovations and repairs across the province.”
“For the 2018-19 school year, school boards will receive up to $1.4 billion from the Ministry of Education in maintenance and repair funding. We have previously committed to covering the costs incurred by school boards who have entered into contractual agreements for capital work, on or before July 3, 2018, within the Green House Gas Reduction Fund. School boards may also use their existing School Renewal Allocation funding to install new air conditioning systems in existing schools,” Thompson said in the statement.
Krista Wylie, co-founder of Fix Our Schools, said the lack of air conditioning has been an issue in schools for several years now.
“It’s like déjà vu,” she said.
“It’s a much more pressing and persistent issue these days that rears its ugly head, not only in June, but in May and September and sometimes even October.”
— With Files from the Canadian Press.
These are the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of Global News from Aug. 27-30, 2018.
For this survey, a sample of 1,200 Canadian parents (with kids under 18 in the household) aged 18+ was interviewed online via the Ipsos I-Say panel and non-panel sources. A sample of n = 500 live in Ontario.
Quota sampling and weighting were employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the population by region and gender according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe.
The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±3.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian parents been polled, and +/- 5 points for the sample Ontarians.
The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to, coverage error, and measurement error.
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.