Liberals vote down school closure moratorium

March 7, 2017

From Queen's Park

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Today, the Liberal government voted down a school closure moratorium motion at Queen’s Park despite the fact that as many as 600 schools across Ontario are facing the threat of being shut down.

The motion, introduced by the Progressive Conservatives, called for a province-wide moratorium so that the government can review and fix the guidelines that determine how schools are closed.

Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker, who was part of today’s debate, called the governing party’s move to vote down the moratorium motion unfair and a signal the Liberals are abandoning rural and Northern communities where most of the closures are slated.

"What’s fair about a government trying to find savings for their mistakes on the backs of students by putting schools on the chopping block?" MPP Walker said. "Yet, this is exactly what the Premier, her Education Minister and government are doing today without any moral qualms. This is the result of years of overspending, mismanagement and waste, and sadly, our children are paying the price."


MPP Bill Walker

Walker said parents, communities and businesses are miffed that the Liberal government set up a system that fast-tracks closures across their communities, including some that are at capacity.

"Employers looking to expand business and add jobs, such as Chapman’s Ice Cream in Markdale and Bruce Power in Tiverton, deserve to have assurance that key amenities such as schools stay open. But this is not happening," MPP Walker said during today’s debate.

"Kathleen Wynne made a statement that if a rural community provided concrete solutions to school boards, there was a chance they could keep their school open.  No one has offered more of a concrete solution to the school boards problems than Chapman’s Ice Cream," MPP Walker quoted from a letter from Ashley Chapman, vice-president at Chapman’s Ice Cream in Markdale. 

"We have offered millions of dollars in donations to keep our school open, and it seems like it isn’t good enough. We have been accused of trying to start a two-tier education system in this province, but that is completely untrue.  We already have a two-tier system; rural schools and urban schools," wrote Chapman.

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"The most important resource in this country is our children, and I dare anyone of any political affiliation to disagree with this.  The province is sending a clear message that the education, and the very future of our youth in rural Ontario is not a priority for this government. This is a disastrous message to send to our children in this critical time of their development.  The solution is simple:  all we ask is that the Premier makes the only moral choice to support our rural communities, not destroy them."

MPP Walker said it was ironic that the Premier, who said she got into politics because of education, and her Education Minister, who dedicated her first speech at Queen’s Park to fighting for community businesses, would be now fighting against the very principles they once stood for.


"They owe it to the public to do what the people elected them to do – to stop deflecting and blaming others and to fix the education system,” MPP Walker concluded. "Regrettably the Premier, who supposedly got involved with politics because of education, missed a prime opportunity to avoid another colossal mistake, and many communities will be decimated as a result!"

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Tuesday, March 07, 2017