Ward 22 Challenges

Note: the information on this page has been updated in accordance with the provisions of Bill 5, which reduces the number of municipal wards and requires the school board wards to be redrawn accordingly. Bill 5 has been passed, and the Toronto city clerk has advised that the election on October 22 will be conducted using the new municipal and school board wards.

About Ward 22

 

TDSB Ward 22 corresponds with City Ward 25, and is the easternmost ward in the city. It is enclosed by Morningside Avenue and Neilson Road to the west, Steeles Avenue to the North, Scarborough-Pickering Townline Road and the Rouge River to the east, and Lake Ontario to the south.

The ward includes seventeen public schools (Junior Kindergarten-Grade 8), five junior public schools (Junior Kindergarten-Grade 6), one senior public school (Grade 7-8), and one high school (Grade 9-12).

According to current TDSB data, we have a total student population of 8,402 in Ward 22, with an average of 365 students per school.

Student mental health

According to the Centre for Addiction & Mental Health (CAMH), 70% of mental health problems begin during childhood and adolescence. Since these problems can have lifelong far-reaching impacts, it is critical that we diagnose and treat them as early as possible.

This is a challenging prospect: 75% of children with mental illnesses do not receive specialized treatment services. The reasons for this are twofold: there is a shortage of services that results in long wait times, and over two thirds of students feel that stigma is the biggest barrier to seeking help.

Ward 22 has a diverse student population that includes Indigenous Peoples in Canada, resettled refugees, and immigrants. There is a wide range of cultural and religious backgrounds, income levels and family compositions. A number of students and/or members of their families identify as LGBT. It is important that we provide mental health services to all students who need them, with respect for the unique challenges and risks that are faced by each individual.

What action will I take?

* Push for a review of anti-bullying policies and programs, with input from students, parents/guardians, teachers and principals

* Explore ways to improve access to mental health services for students

* Implement programs to reduce the stigma that surrounds mental illness, and provide students with avenues for seeking help

* Advocate for a Health & Physical Education curriculum that teaches students about consent, in-person and online safety and other issues relating to physical and mental wellness, while respecting their cultural and religious backgrounds

School renewal and repair needs

The TDSB has assigned a Facility Condition Index, or FCI, to each school in the board. This number, represented as a percentage, reflects the overall condition of the school buildings and grounds. In general, a lower number indicates school facilities that are in better condition.

In Ward 22, the average FCI score is 37.42%.

Board-wide, there is a backlog of more than 22,500 repairs needed in 583 schools. In the 24 schools in Ward 22, there is a total backlog of almost 800 repairs. Of these, 71% are listed as either “urgent” or “high priority”. This can have far-reaching impacts on health and safety, comfort levels, and the ability of students to learn. We also cannot ignore the repairs listed as medium and low priority: these are unlikely to be completed in the foreseeable future. If left long enough, they could move into the high priority list, making an already critical situation even worse.

What action will I take?

* Support the school board’s efforts to secure more funding for school repair and renewal projects

* Push for the repair of low priority items that are at risk of escalating into bigger issues

* Advocate for cooling centres in schools without air-conditioning, for use during heat waves

* Ensure that students in portables have easy access to drinking water, especially on hot days

Students with special needs

Individuals with special needs make up about 17.5% of the TDSB student population. These students vary widely in terms of their strengths and challenges, their verbal and academic abilities, and their physical and cognitive accommodation needs. While the TDSB strives for inclusion in regular classes wherever possible, this is not always in the best interests of the student.

In Ward 22, several schools have self-contained special needs classes, and a number of students with special needs who are integrated in regular classes with varying levels of support, depending on their needs.

Any time the provincial government changes, funding for disability services and special education is at risk of being changed, cut or reduced. It is imperative that we continue to advocate for the interests of our special needs students, to ensure that they are being given every possible opportunity to reach their full potential.

What action will I take?

* In each school, review the supports that are available for students with special needs and their teachers, and advocate for increased supports where needed

* Implement programs aimed at encouraging dialogue and increasing awareness of special needs among all students

* Ensure that families of students with special needs are aware of funding and services options that are available to them through municipal, provincial and federal government programs

* Ensure that parents/guardians of students with special needs are fully aware of their rights and those of their children

Traffic safety

Student safety in school zones is a significant problem, not only in Ward 22, but all across Toronto. The traffic safety issue takes a variety of forms, depending on the school, but one of the most common problems is the speed of traffic flow. In some cases, the speed limits are higher than many would consider ideal; in others, lower speed limits are not enforced. Other problems include traffic congestion in the drop-off zones, cars being parked and left unattended in designated drop-and-ride lanes, and cars traveling and/or parking in the wrong direction. It is frequently up to the school principals to direct the traffic in front of their schools during drop-off time, for the safety of the students.

Another serious issue relates to the condition of the roads and sidewalks that surround the schools. At some schools, the sidewalks are in a state of disrepair that puts students at risk. At others, water fails to drain during the rainy season, or snow is plowed onto the sidewalks, making them impassable. This results in students being forced to exit cars on the driver’s side, emerging into traffic.

What action will I take?

* Support police initiatives to reduce vehicular speed in school zones

* Work with the City Councilor to ensure that the roads and sidewalks around schools are safe

* Work with principals and families on initiatives to support the Vision Zero Road Safety Plan, which is aimed at eliminating fatalities and serious injuries on our streets