Today during Question Period, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and Lisa Gretzky, the Ontario NDP’s education critic, demanded a commitment from Premier Wynne and the Education Minister to keep provincial and demonstration schools open for the long-term.
“For months, families and students with exceptional needs have pleaded with this government to keep their schools open. They've organized, gathered thousands of signatures and rallied from Belleville to London. Today, hundreds join us here at Queen's park, united for one reason, the future of our provincial and demonstration schools,” Horwath said.
“Will the Premier listen to families and commit to keeping these schools open long-term or turn her back on our most vulnerable children?”
Hundreds of parents and families from across the province were at Queen’s Park today to demand the Wynne government keep their children’s schools open. Gretzky will be presenting a motion to the legislature this afternoon calling for a government commitment to keep the provincial and demonstration schools open.
“The government keeps saying more kids need access to demonstration and provincial schools. So why did the Minister cap enrolment in the first place? If more kids need access to these programs why is this government even thinking about closing them? It just doesn’t make sense,” Gretzky said. “Kids with exceptional needs deserve better from this government. We know these programs are successful. The Minister herself admits that.
“Will the Minister tell families in the gallery today that provincial and demonstration schools will remain open after the 2016-17 school year?,” Gretzky asked.
Gretzky continued to press the Minster of Education to keep the schools open past the Wynne government’s deadline, and questioned the government’s consultation process .
“This government is failing vulnerable kids. The logic doesn’t make sense. In fact, the Minister’s own Briefing Note (FOI document) shows that the consultation process ends with a ‘discussion with unions on details of staff impact’. This lends weight to the idea that the Minister started ‘consulting’ with the end goal of closing schools without actually listening to what was said,” Gretzky said.
“That’s shameful. Today, the Minister should listen to kids and families. Listen to what these schools have meant to them. Children are begging the Minister to listen.”
“Again, will the Minister of Education guarantee that these important schools will stay open beyond the 2016-17 school year? Will she make a long-term commitment to these worried families? Gretzky asked.
Both Premier Wynne and the Minister of Education refused to commit to keeping the provincial and demonstration schools past 2016-17.