Panel gives public say on how to make schools safe
Published Saturday, August 11, 2007 8:06PM EDT
As an advisory panel looking into school safely wrapped up its two-day public consultation session on how to make GTA schools safer, the lawyer heading up the committee said he hopes the government acts on their final report.
Prominent human rights lawyer Julian Falconer, who heard representatives from Toronto communities on Friday and Saturday, said he wants to see less money put into discussing problems and more into creating solutions.
"Why is it that we are willing to put resources into studying matters and not implementing solutions?" Falconer said Saturday.
He hopes the panel, formed after the shooting death of 15-year-old Jordan Manners at C.W. Jefferys Collegiate Institute in northwestern Toronto in May, serves as a wake-up call for the government.
Roger Rowe, who lives near the school where the shooting happened, told the panel the violence will continue until politicians start funding programs for at-risk youth consistently.
"Until the levels of government are prepared to get serious about addressing the underlying issues that are greeting us here, we will continue to see more people die needlessly," Rowe said on Saturday.
"To help address the issues of at-risk youth, (funding) has to be systematic and ongoing."
Greg Stokes, Jordan's uncle, attended the public meeting at C.W. Jefferys on Friday.
"Unfortunately it took me losing my nephew to effectively say I have to get up and take a stand on this, Stokes told CTV News on Friday.
Stokes was joined by NDP MP Olivia Chow and Toronto student representatives, who requested year-round funding for youth programs.
This summer, the TDSB and the Toronto Catholic School Board received $4 million in funding to implement Focus on Youth -- a program designed to keep inner-city children off the streets during the summer months that has been very successful.
Chow says a one-off summer program is not enough for children in troubled neighbourhoods.
"There are hundreds of really successful programs like Focus on Youth and many others all across Canada, but you know, it's about to finish in two or three weeks. Then what happens during the school year? Nothing," Chow told CTV News Friday.
The school safety panel was given an operating budget of $500,000 to investigate safety throughout the GTA.
The panel will release an interim report due Aug. 22 with a final report due at the end of September.
With a report from CTV's Naomi Parness