TORONTO, ON – The reasoning behind the Ford government’s rumoured plans to reduce the number of school boards across Ontario is based on a set of false assumptions and the move won’t save money, but will weaken the province’s education system, says Laura Walton, president of the Ontario School Board Council of Unions (OSBCU), a council of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

Walton made her comments in response to a news report issued late Friday afternoon, which said the government was considering plans to merge school boards in Ontario’s public system to streamline administration and cut board bureaucracy. The change is expected to take aim at school boards in smaller communities.

“This plan is not based in reality. There is nothing in our experience that suggests mergers will lead to cost savings in the long run,” said Laura Walton, president of the OSBCU. “Public sector restructuring in other sectors has demonstrated that mergers can actually cost far more than they save. In fact, Ontario’s Auditor General found that hospital restructuring under the Mike Harris government actually cost $3.2 billion.”

Reducing the number of school boards across the province will have a detrimental effect on education because the remaining boards will have larger geographical areas to cover with fewer resources to serve their communities.

“This move is an attack on local democracy and a concern for parents and students and anyone who cares about quality education. The government is making our school system less responsive to student needs and less able to meet the diverse needs of different communities, especially in rural and remote areas of the province,” Walton continued.

“The fact that the leak of this information comes on the Friday before a long weekend shows that the Premier Ford knows it is not something that the people of Ontario want. It demonstrates the lack of respect he has students, parents, and communities, as though he is trying to sneak the news past the public in the hope that no one notices,” she concluded.

CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions represents 55,000 education workers across Ontario.

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For more information:

Laura Walton, President OSBCU, 613-922-6711
Matthew Stella, CUPE Communications, 613-252-4377
Mary Unan, CUPE Communications, 647-390-9839

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