School Closures Hurting Canadian Communities

Its birth rate declining, Canada is facing an unprecedented drop in school enrollments, leading to a wave of closures.
September 4, 2008, 8am PDT | Michael Dudley
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"[A] cross-Canada wave of [school] closings...promises to devastate small communities and throw the country's youngest students into turmoil.

Every province except Alberta is struggling with long-term declines in enrolment as the population ages and birth rates remain among the lowest in the world. At least 53 schools closed in Canada this year, but advocates say that's just the beginning. British Columbia and Saskatchewan lead the way, as they have for years, accounting for 19 and nine closings, respectively.

Canada is experiencing steady long-term decline in enrolment. The number of school-aged children dropped to 5.2 million in 2005-06, down 3 per cent from 1999. Local school authorities and experts in most provinces say the decline will continue through 2013 and beyond.

With little national debate, the country is walking into an irreversible process that will leave dozens of communities in tatters."

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Published on Tuesday, September 2, 2008 in The Globe and Mail
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