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‘If we don’t invest now … with music classes, athletic facilities, and skills training and mentoring, we will all pay more in the long run,’ Dan Hill argues.

Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

Music classes in Ontario are being eroded by budget cuts, and more and more Ontario students – especially low-income ones – are missing out on the learning opportunities provided by music teachers and live performances, a new report has found.

In its annual survey of the province's schools, advocacy group People for Education found that 44 per cent of elementary students have a music teacher this year, compared to 49 per cent last year, and 58 per cent in 1999.

The report also found that the schools that are able to raise the most money are more likely to take students on field trips to attend live appearances, and those with the highest average family incomes were most likely to offer opportunities to participate in band choir or orchestra.

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People for Education found that one-third of Ontario students don't have the opportunity to work with an artist, be in a musical group or learn to play an instrument.

"These activities can be – and often are – integrated into the curriculum, but when arts are treated simply as enrichment, they are particularly vulnerable to cuts in funding from the province or the school board," the report reads.

The report comes as the Toronto District School Board contemplates cutting the number of music instructors it employs in order to tackle a nearly $30-million deficit. Trustees will consider the cuts at a school board meeting in June.

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