“Whether northern Ontarians are fighting school and hospital closings, high electricity rates, or to keep Hydro One in public hands, you can always count on these folks to fight the good fight for the public good.” — Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President
Toronto (29 Nov. 2016) — A decision yesterday to abandon plans to close several schools in the Sudbury area is a decisive victory for the community groups that fought to keep them open, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) said on November 25.
Grassroots organizing keeps schools open
“The announcement that the school board will keep 8 schools open in our communities is a testament to the tenacity of parents, trustees, grassroots groups and organized labour,” said Felicia Fahey, an OPSEU Executive Board member. “In the face of this wall of resistance, it’s not surprising that the Rainbow District School Board backed off on a plan that would have devastated communities and the families who rely on a strong, local public education system."
“OPSEU/NUPGE was extremely proud to lend our support to the efforts of so many groups and individuals.”
Students to remain in their communities
Under the school board’s revised plan, 2 of the schools that faced closure will be merged under one roof, and another 2 schools will merge into one school, still planned for construction.. Students from elementary schools that had been targeted for closure will move into existing secondary schools in the area.
The victory to keep schools open in the Sudbury area followed months of campaigning by a host of community and labour groups, and public figures. Many travelled to Toronto this week to protest outside the legislature at Queen’s Park. They were joined there by dozens of residents from other parts of Ontario where local school boards have threatened to shutter schools.
Fighting the good fight for the public good
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas, who spoke at this week’s rally, paid tribute to those in the Sudbury area who fought against the closures. He called them an inspiration to others around the province who face similar battles.
“We are seeing a rising spirit of activism right across this province, and there’s no better example of that than what we witnessed yesterday,” he said. “Whether northern Ontarians are fighting school and hospital closings, high electricity rates, or to keep Hydro One in public hands, you can always count on these folks to fight the good fight for the public good.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE