TORONTO - The government should open up schools across the province during the summer months to help keep kids out of trouble and offer programs for families, seniors and immigrants, Conservative Leader John Tory said Tuesday at a pre-election event.

Speaking in front of a locked school in Mississauga, west of Toronto, Tory said his "Open Schools'' plan would see schools utilized as community centres during the summer break as well as on evenings and weekends.

"We have facilities in which we as taxpayers have invested, and these facilities bring people together, they provide an accessible meeting place for worthwhile community organizations,'' Tory said.

"And in the case of young people, they often keep kids away from the temptations of gangs and crimes.''

The policy would initially be launched in the most needed neighbourhoods during the 2007-08 school year, and then expanded after consultations with school boards and social service providers.

"Municipalities in every region of Ontario should have schools that are more open, to more of the community, more of the time,'' Tory said.

Programs could include helping students with homework and getting into college or university, arts and crafts activities, employment training, adult education, and recreation or sports activities, Tory said.