MPP disappointed by Liberal snub to students and parents

November 21, 2016

From Queen's Park

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MPP Bill Walker joins Paisley Central School students Sarah and Eric Grant at Queen’s Park where they rallied against school closures across rural Ontario and called on the government to fix accommodation review guidelines

Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker says he was disappointed with the Premier’s and Education Minister’s snub of the concerned parents and students from rural Ontario who made a long journey when they organized a protest at the Legislature earlier today.

MPP Walker and his caucus colleagues voiced their concerns over the accommodation review guidelines in today’s Question Period, and called on the Premier and Education Minister to put in a moratorium on school closures until the guidelines are fixed.

“Not only did the Premier and her education minister fail to answer questions about rampant school closures, but neither one had the graciousness to so much as show up and address the crowd of parents and students who came to Queen’s Park to seek solutions,” says MPP Walker.

 “The new accommodation guidelines don’t work. They are responsible for potentially closing one in eight schools – that’s 600 schools - across Ontario,” MPP Walker says. “Pulling the plug on community schools may be a convenient fix to this cash-strapped government but it creates long-term economic woes for those communities.

“Frankly, we in rural Ontario need schools to survive. Everyone needs them to survive,” he says. “Schools are a community’s cultural asset, they drive local economies. Closing them removes recreational space, it eliminates opportunities for all - from working parents to vulnerable populations. No one really wins when a school closes.

“Sadly, this is the gritty reality this government hid from public debate when they rewrote the accommodation review guidelines,” he says. “As a result, schools closures are about cutting expenses at the Ministry of Education and without any consideration to its value to the local economy and opportunities for the establishment of community hubs.”

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MPP Walker also warns that the Liberals are creating complex fiscal and social problems – destroying communities, forcing out businesses - problems that future generations will have to somehow fix.

“The Premier surely understand that she needs to open her eyes to solutions today, not punt her government’s mismanagement on students,” he says.

“The Liberals need to stand with the people and be part of a solution,” MPP Walker concludes. “A moratorium and review of the arbitrary guidelines is a step in that direction.”

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Monday, November 21, 2016