School closures in Maple, Woodbridge and across the GTA are have a devastating impact on our communities, families and children.
Under new rules introduced by the Wynne government, it is irrefutably easier and quicker to close a school, with less consultation. In 2015, the Ontario government announced changes to the process (called Pupil Accommodation Review Guidelines) to close schools. These changes ignore a school’s broader community value, focusing only on the data produced by the school board. The changes leave community representatives off school-closing review committees, and sharply reduce both the minimum length of time for school closings to be considered, and the number of public meetings about them.
Take for example the most recent victim of these new rules: Our Lady of Peace Catholic School in Maple. While the process only commenced a few short months ago, this high-performing, fully occupied, community spirited academic institution is closing in a matter of months. Parents feel abandoned by their government – from their local councillor to their MPP to the premier – who have effectively sat on the sidelines.
This is not leadership. These changes are unfair and undemocratic, completely ignoring the value of local schools to their communities and the economy. With roughly 600 schools closed to date, and hundreds more estimated on the chopping block, I am joining the leader of the Ontario PC Party, Patrick Brown, calling on the Wynne government to issue an immediate moratorium on school closures, and commence an immediate review of the flawed review process that currently determines the fate of our local schools.
Education and skills training is part of the foundation of a strong and dynamic economy. Let us rally behind our students, and place an immediate moratorium on these closures.