Opening the Doors to Ontario

Community Use of Schools Program 2005 Report

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Executive Summary

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.

SPACE - Bulletin (May 2005)

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.

Young Parents in Toronto Speak Out About Work, Community Services and Family Life

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.

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