FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 8, 2017
QUEEN’S PARK – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett joined the fray as the Official Opposition fired a barrage of questions at the government over rural school closings.
“Premier, will you place a moratorium on school closures until you fix the [funding] formula and until the Pupil Accommodation Review Guideline is fairly rewritten,” Barrett asked during Question Period.
“School closures have a devastating impact on our communities,” said Opposition Leader Patrick Brown. “And for students it can mean more time on a bus, and less time for a part-time job or extra-curriculars. After 13 years of waste and scandal after scandal, the Wynne Liberals are trying to balance the books on the backs of our students by fast tracking school closures.”
In Haldimand-Norfolk, Our Lady of LaSalette is currently under review. It’s a small school but one that is integral to the community it sits in – this is the case for many of the schools under threat, Barrett reiterated after Question Period.
Barrett and his colleagues continued to press for a moratorium until the funding formula is fixed. To see MPP Barrett asking the question please visit: https://youtu.be/plNlVQLDGLQ.
For more information, contact MPP Toby Barrett at 519-428-0446 or [email protected]
ONTARIO LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary? Member from Haldimand–Norfolk.
Mr. Toby Barrett: To the Premier: Well, 600 schools are under threat. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture and Ann Hawkins of OECTA have spoken in favour of retaining our small schools.
Susan MacKenzie of the Ontario Alliance Against School Closures hit home, attacking the school board bait-and-switch of dumping billions into additions and consolidations, pointing out that the Auditor General recommends renewals and maintaining existing schools, which include small schools, not new infrastructure.
Will the Premier restore the value-to-community and the value-to-local-economy criteria? Premier, will you place a moratorium on school closures until you fix the formula and until the Pupil Accommodation Review Guidelines are fairly rewritten?
Hon. Mitzie Hunter: It’s important that we recognize that an arbitrary moratorium would not solve anything. In fact, it would take away the ability of a locally elected trustee to make those good decisions on behalf of their schools.
In addressing the concerns the member opposite raised with regard to the Auditor General and school renewal, when the Premier first appointed me to this role, that is one of the first opportunities I had, which was to add $1.1 billion to school renewals, which met the threshold that the Auditor General has asked for.
Mr. Speaker, when we talk to staff—let’s hear what they’re saying: “We made every effort to hear every concern from students and parents and by the time the process was over, people felt much more positively….”
Mr. Speaker, here’s a quote from a mayor: “There is no doubt there is more access to programs and resources, and more opportunities in general with a larger peer group.”
“In this school I can reach ahead in math, science and woodworking.” That’s from a student—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you.