Parents from Eastern Ontario, including Leeds-Grenville, joined those from across the province at a rally at Queen’s Park to protest ongoing accommodation reviews that could see up to 600 schools close.
“The fact parents have travelled hours in terrible weather to be here today is a testament to how hard they’re working to save these schools and ensure their children can continue to learn close to home,” Steve said.
Of the 600 schools targeted for closure in Ontario, 29 are located within the Upper Canada District School Board and 10 in Leeds-Grenville.
Steve spoke to the rally, and took Minister of Education Mitzie Hunter to task for sitting on the sidelines while the fate of rural education is left to a flawed process that prioritizes school closures rather than exploring other long-term solutions. “Her Ministry created this disastrous Pupil Accommodation Review process, and pulled the funding that supported these rural schools to put everything in motion. And she thinks she’s going to get a pass? No chance.”
Steve said the Minister is showing how out of touch she is with what’s really happening by her insistence that students will be kept “at the forefront of every decision we make.”
“How is it keeping students at the forefront, when the options include putting young children on the bus for an hour or more in one direction?” Steve asked. “Or sending students to overcrowded schools and jamming them into portables, while the board waits for money to build a mega-school?”
If students were truly being put at the forefront, such proposals would never have seen the light of day, he said.
Earlier in the day, Steve rose in Question Period to call on the Premier to immediately put a moratorium on school closures. “The Premier and Education Minister must get away from Queen’s Park and see for themselves what’s really happening across Ontario. These reviews are just smoke and mirrors that give the appearance of consultation,” Steve said. “True consultation starts before recommendations are made – not after.”