Opening up Ontario’s Schools for Expanded Community Use: 2007 Community Use of Schools Survey Results and Recommendations
In 2005 the SPACE Coalition, in conjunction with the CSPC-T, undertook an Ontario-wide survey of community users of school space to assess their awareness of the provincially funded CUS program (Community Use of Schools). CUS was designed to reverse the loss of affordable access to schools by community groups, resulting from changes to the education funding formula in the late 1990s.
This year’s survey sought to assess the changes to community groups’ ability to access schools, resulting from the $20 million annual provincial investment in CUS.
What is the Toronto Community Services Resource Guide for Non-Status Immigrants?
The Community Social Planning Council of Toronto and Davenport Perth Neighbourhood Centre, in partnership with the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Campaign, have developed a Community Resource Guide for non-status immigrants. The guide comes in the form of a printed booklet available in five languages (English, Portuguese, Chinese, Spanish and Arabic), as well as a comprehensive website of community service listings.
The CSPC-T hosted the “Schools@theCentre” Conference on February 16 and 17, 2007, to look at the issue of what our schools could be.
The proceedings from that thought-provoking event, including the keynote address by Penny Milton, CEO of the Canadian Education Association, are now available online here.
Release Date: October 2006
Contributors: Beth Wilson, CSPC-T Researcher, Harriet Njiraini, CSPC-T Intern, Navjeet Sidhu, CSPC-T Intern, Zachary Tucker-Abramson, CSPC-T Intern
From the introduction:
On September 25, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Treasury Board President John Baird announced $1 billion in federal program cuts to be implemented over two years. At the same time that cuts to youth employment, literacy organizations, women's groups, Aboriginal health initiatives, and other equity relevant programs were announced, the federal government also reported a staggering $13.2 billion surplus.
In the wake of the announced cuts,
PUBLISHED: July 2006
AUTHORS: Community Social Planning Council of Toronto and Family Services Toronto
REPORT DOWNLOADS: Community Service Sector Report [PDF] and Immigrant-Refugee Serving Sector Report [PDF]
On the Front Lines: Improving Working Conditions and Ensuring Quality Community Services is a joint research initiative of Family Service Toronto and the Community Social Planning Council of Toronto. This one-year project was funded through the United Way of Greater Toronto’s Social Research Grants Initiative. The project goals were to examine working conditions, experiences and perspectives of Toronto’s community sector staff; identify and build support for organizational practices and social policy responses to improve working conditions and sector capacity; and engage key decision-makers to build support for project recommendations. The project involved focus groups with community sector front-line and managerial staff, roundtable discussions with key stakeholders, a review of collective agreements and a survey of Toronto immigrant- and refugee-serving sector staff.
Community Use of Schools Program 2005 Report
Schools have a long tradition of serving as "community centres" or "hubs" in many communities. In Ontario, community groups have historically used school space for free or at a nominal cost to organize activities and events for all age groups ranging from children and youth to seniors. The activities were carried out after-school, in the summer or on weekends.
This role of schools as community hubs has many benefits. One primary benefit is the fostering of strong school-community partnership. This partnership is known to have a very positive and long-lasting impact on local education1 as well as significant value to the community.
However, in 1998 the Ontario government changed this drastically with the creation of a new education funding formula that did not include affordable access to school facilities. Consequently, Boards of Education began to significantly increase the fees to community roups for use of school space. Boards contended that these fees were necessary to cover costs to keep facilities open after school hours including: custodial costs, permit administration, and utilities.
Ten months after government announcement to fund access to schools – Government web site shows only 48 Boards of 72 have signed on
On July 9, 2004 members of SPACE along with many youth, seniors, and community-based groups were present to celebrate the Ontario Government’s community use of schools announcement in Toronto. Minister of Education, Gerard Kennedy and Minister of Tourism and Recreation, Jim Bradley symbolically cut a chain to symbolize a commitment to a new era of restored access to schools as hubs of our communities. Implementation of the policy was assigned to the Ministry of Tourism and Recreation. Minister Kennedy indicated that the government was taking a voluntary approach with Boards, since they were confident to get 100% participation across all Boards in exchange for the $20 million of new funding.
SPACE applauded the announcement as a significant step in the right direction. However, there have been several problems:
- There have been long delays and we have fallen far short of 100% participation among Boards of Education across Ontario. This long process has delayed the restoration of affordable access to our public schools. It is uncertain whether our schools will have more activity this spring and summer due to the lags in implementation and the lack of information flowing to local communities.
A Report of the Prospects for Young Families in Toronto Project
By: Community Social Planning Council of Toronto and Family Service Association of Toronto
Published: July 2004
Report Author: Beth Wilson, Community Social Planning Council of Toronto
Full Report Download: PDF Format
About the Prospects for Young Families in Toronto Project
Prospects for Young Families in Toronto is a collaborative research project of the Family Service Association of Toronto and the Community Social Planning Council of Toronto. The goal of this project was to investigate how social and economic circumstances are having an impact on young families and to build support for public policies that can assist them. Our project focused on young families whose head was under the age of 35.s.