Canada: Sobering New Report Confirms Large Scale Closures Of Ontario Schools Expected By June 2020

Last Updated: May 15 2017
Article by Devry Smith Frank LLP

Educating our children is something just about everyone can get behind – as they say, 'children are the future'.  How we go about it, on the other hand, tends to produce much less consensus.  In recent months, the issue of prospective school closures across the province has led to considerable debate, and energized advocates on all sides.

What's New?

A new report released Thursday – by the independent research and advocacy group, People for Education – will no doubt add fuel to the fire.  Their report indicates that a substantial number of Ontario public school closures are on the horizon.  121 schools, many in cash-strapped and under-served rural areas, appear to be on the chopping block between 2017 and 2020.

According to the report, 34 of Ontario's 72 school boards plan to close at least one school. With the grand total of 121 board-recommended closures, that's an average of well over three closures per board.  The final decision rests with the school boards themselves, the trustees of which must vote on each recommended closure.  As of April 30, 58 of the recommended closures have been approved by trustees, while another 52 such votes are pending.  Board recommendations have historically been followed.  These schools serve about 33,000 students.  (See an interactive map of Ontario school closures here)

Rural Ontarians appear to be the most affected.  A disproportionate number of these schools are under-utilized, meaning they are prime targets for closure and consolidation with area schools.  This could mean considerably larger distances from home to the classroom for many students. The report also noted that 25 new schools are also proposed, albeit to absorb students from these closing facilities.  Moreover, while a "long overdue" overhaul of Ontario rural education strategy is slated to commence this week in the form of community consultations, People for Education's executive director, Annie Kidder, points out that most of these closure recommendations are already in their final stages (see here).  How much influence rural communities will be able to exert on provincial policy is an open question, especially given that the projected closures will be rolled out through 2020.

Likewise notable is the fact that, while the potential closure of 121 schools is far from insignificant, this figure is dwarfed by previous (perhaps somewhat misleading) estimates.  In March, Education Minister Mitzie Hunter suggested as many as 300 "under-utilized or dilapidated" schools were being considered for closure.  She did, however, emphasize that not all would be closed (see here).  The Ontario Alliance Against School Closures estimated as many as 600 schools might be closed.

People for Education compiled their data from each school board in Ontario, seeking "to paint a clearer picture of an emotionally-charged issue that cuts to the heart of communities" said executive director Annie Kidder (see here).  In that they appear to have succeeded: the group is certainly an advocate for public education, but the brief report is fairly light on editorializing, consisting mostly of factual, numerical points.  Situating the conversation on terra firma will be a welcome change for many.

The Political Context

Overlaying this policy debate, as always, is a political battle for provincial parliament.   Hunter and the governing Ontario Liberals under Kathleen Wynne will be keen to distance themselves from these decisions, which, regardless of their economic sense (or lack thereof), simply won't sit well with the public.  The ultimate decisions lie with the school boards, but the policy framework they must operate within comes from on high – something the opposition has already seized upon.  Funding is a perennial concern for these boards, and the government plays no small role in those decisions.

Patrick Brown's conservatives, for their part, find themselves in the somewhat paradoxical position of pushing for a moratorium on school closures.  So, the centre-right opposition is fighting against the retrenchment of public services being promoted by the centre-left mainstay Liberals.  If that's not strange enough, some will remember that it was Dalton McGuinty's Liberals who put in place exactly that moratorium back in 2003.  Ontario politics can be a bit fickle.

Resource scarcity is an inescapable fact of life, for any government in any economy.  It's in the chaotic political arena that our society determines how to use what we have.  It will be interesting to see to what extent Ontarians will show their views on public education, whatever they might be, at the ballot box.  To many, cutting public schools will seem well out of step with their spending priorities; others will wonder what sense there is in continuing to fund half-empty schools.  There are many moving pieces.  With June elections coming up, it will be equally interesting to see how the vying parties will position themselves on this issue.

For now, it looks like the public school system is in for a change, for better or worse.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions