Ottawa/Queens Park

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mitziehunter

Dear Minister Hunter:

As you are aware, many people across our communities in Bruce, Grey and Huron are very concerned about the direction your Government is taking. From energy to education, the policies are making our constituents' lives harder every day.

As of today, your education policies are driving the potential closure of as many as  600 elementary and secondary schools across Ontario[i]. Using your funding formula and shortened accommodation review rules, school boards across Ontario may be forced to shutter every 1 in 8 schools, displacing thousands of students.

Here in our ridings, they have just ordered a capital cut of $2.5 million, resulting potentially in as many as 18 school closures[ii] across our local Bluewater District School Board, including Paisley Central School and Beavercrest Community School in Markdale.

We believe your school closure rules are punitive and short-sighted, as they are destabilizing our communities, pitting neighbour against neighbour and even making employers nervous. Employers looking to expand business and add jobs in our region, such as Chapman's Ice Cream in Markdale[iii] and Bruce Power in Tiverton[iv], deserve to have assurance that key amenities such as schools stay open. The Four County
Labour Market Planning Board for Bruce, Grey, Huron and Perth says access to a school helps with finding and retaining good workers in the community[v], and is especially critical in our region as we're facing a shrinking labour market.

Sadly, while we know that school closures lose the community's draw for families to come back, your leadership clearly doesn't share this concern. In fact, it doesn't want to take any responsibility for what's going on. Since being appointed Education Minister, you have tried to shift the blame for the decisions about which schools to close on the local trustees, but everyone knows that your government's arbitrary funding formula, your shortened accommodation reviews and your 13-year-long financial mismanagement and high debt are the real reasons behind these mass closures.

We respectfully suggest that you have set the closure rules. You have set the bottom lines. And you, Minister, have to take responsibility for the outcome. Instead of continuing to create the disruption in the lives of thousands of students, parents, families and communities, we want you to show courage and fix this mess, which is exactly what your party promised to do when it was shopping for votes during two provincial elections.

We call on you, Minister, and on the Premier to tell the Ontario public when you are going to amend the formula so that it incorporates this reality, so that it talks about the real needs of families and employers in our community. We trust you can do that, and look forward to hearing when you will take that action and do what is in the best interests of our students.

[i] http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/education/ontario-moves-to-speed-up-process-for-closing-schools/article23801434/

[ii] http://www.owensoundsuntimes.com/2014/05/08/report-warns-of-18-bluewater-school-closings-in-grey-bruce

[iii] http://923thedock.com/chapmans-weighs-school-closure-talk/

[iv] http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-and-resources/bruce-nuclear-plans-13-billion-refurbishment-of-kincardine-ont-reactors/article27577426/

[v] http://www.planningboard.ca/reports/migration-characteristics-and-trends/

 


 

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