QUEEN’S PARK – Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker has presented a petition in the Ontario Legislature calling on the Liberal government to reverse planned school closures.
The Petition also calls on the government to review and fix the education funding formula in an effort to stop any further mass closures across rural and Northern communities.
“Shuttering 600 schools and then selling them off one by one – as is being done with Derby School – should not be acceptable to any government, and yet that’s exactly what is happening under the leadership of this current Liberal government,” Walker said.
“People are very concerned about the negative impact of mass school closures on local communities. This petition aims to get the government to reverse all closure decisions since 2016.”
Petitioners chose to make the moratorium retroactive to the year the government started using revised guidelines that critics say accelerated school closures across Ontario.
“People are rightly pointing the finger at the government’s new guidelines and calling for them to be scrapped. There is no doubt in anybody’s mind that the removal of the community impact from the guidelines led to the hollowing-out of schools across rural Ontario, like Derby School, and Chesley District Community School, despite having rock-solid academic showings and strong roots in the community.”
Walker said the education minister promised to listen to rural communities about ideas to save community schools.
“I expect that if she is listening to the petitioners, then she will agree to reverse decisions to close schools that have not physically been completed. This would be consistent with the spirit of the moratorium,” said Walker.
The petition, which was presented in the Legislature on Nov. 22, contained over 200 signatures.