Toronto MPP confronts education minister over severe flooding at local school

A Toronto MPP says she was in a state of disbelief after witnessing stairwell leaks and flooding at a west-end Toronto high school after a rainstorm earlier this week.

In a viral X post, Parkdale-High Park MPP Bhutila Karpoche said that, on Monday, she visited Humberside Collegiate Institute in High Park North to speak to Grade 10 students. She arrived with her umbrella in tow, as she knew that rain was in the forecast — but what she was not prepared for was rain inside the school.

“A s soon as I checked in at the main office, I was informed that there was a short delay due to the rain. The principal took me around the school to show me what the building looks like every time there is heavy rain. There are a total of 20 spots that must be checked for water.”

Karpoche said that an entire section of stairs (three floors) was closed due to flooding.

“Water was leaking from the roof,” she said, posting a video and photo of rain falling inside the building and pooling into the hallway.

A massive pool of water can also be seen in the basement, blocking students from classrooms, lockers and the elevator.

“Not only does this disrupt learning, but it’s also a major accessibility barrier and safety concern,” she added.

Karpoche said that once she arrived in the auditorium where she would be speaking, she again saw rainwater falling and being collected in garbage bins on the stage.

“This poses a serious health & safety risk for students and staff in the school. If they aren’t repaired, mold will grow & spread, making an already bad situation worse,” she wrote on X. “People can slip and fall. It threatens the structural integrity of the building. What if the roof caves in?”

Karpoche added that the repair backlog for schools in Ontario was at $16.8B in 2022, and continues to grow every year.

“Successive gov’ts have failed to fund repairs of our schools, and now they are crumbling. This year’s provincial budget again included no funding to address the repair backlog,” Karpoche said. “As a parent of two kids in public schools, I am incredibly thankful for the staff who continue to do what they can to keep students safe. As a parent of two kids in public schools, I am mad that this is the state of our public schools. It’s not much to ask – Fix Our Schools!”

Karpoche confronted Stephen Lecce, Ontario’s Minister of Education, on Wednesday about the issue. In a heated exchange during Question Period, she demanded to know what is being done to help schools like Humberside, which require dire repairs.

“Now we’ve reached rock bottom. It doesn’t get any worse than this when it comes to building maintenance,” she said. “If the images and videos I’ve shared doesn’t lead the minister to fix the schools, I don’t know what will? I want the minister to fix the schools. Are you going to fix it?”

Lecce responded by placing the blame on school boards. He said that the Ford government has doubled funding to build more schools, and that since 2018, they’ve recommended that 2.5 per cent of the provincial budget — about $1.4 billion annually — be dedicated to school maintenance.

“The TDSB [Toronto District School Board] is sitting on banked money in their maintenance fund of $350 million. Just make sure we understand, our school board is sitting on $300 million of cash instead of spending it on that very roof,” he said.

Karpoche continued to urge Lecce to take action to address this problem.

“What I want the minister to do is to take the time, go to the school and fix it. You are the minister of education, the buck stops with you!” she said.

In an interview with CP24, the TDSB said that staff are on site at Humberside CI to investigate what caused the leak.

Spokesperson Ryan Bird told the outlet that “…while the TDSB spends millions of dollars each year on roof replacements and repairs, we currently have an overall maintenance and repair backlog of more than $4 billion.”

This isn’t the only issue the provincial government has gotten in hot water for regarding where money is being meted out. Last Friday, the Ford government announced that they are giving The Beer Store up to $225 million to end their 10-year agreement earlier than its slated Dec. 31, 2025 completion, in order to accelerate the introduction of beer and wine in corner stores.

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