Is public funding for Ontario Catholic schools back on the political agenda?
With a provincial election widely expected in the spring, all three major parties are polishing up their talking points for what promises to be a tough race for the reigning Liberals. And so leave it to a fourth party to bring up an election issue that the bigger players would probably prefer to steer clear of: public funding for Catholic schools.
The Guelph Mercury reports that Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner is already in the process of riling up Catholic school board trustees in the Niagara region with a simple suggestion: rather than fund four separate school systems (English-public, French-public, English-Catholic and French-Catholic), why shouldn’t Queen’s Park just merge them all into one? “We are not saying Catholic school should close,” Schreiner told the Mercury. “We are saying we need fiscally responsible schools. We want to see financial resources maximized in the classroom.” A pro-funding publicity campaign by the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association seems, ironically, only to be driving the issue further into the spotlight.
Public funding for Catholic schools goes back to Confederation, when Catholics were Ontario’s major religious minority and lawmakers felt the need to ensure their equal education rights. Attempts to rejig the system to serve Ontario’s more polyglot present-day population have not been successful. John Tory‘s Ontario PC party made integrating more types of religious schools into the public system part of its platform in 2007—and that’s partly why Tory is on Newstalk 1010 today, and not at Queen’s Park.
Still, with Catholic schools under fire for their sometimes-shoddy treatment of gay students, it seems inevitable that the perennial debate should resurface at some point. It may as well be now.
5 thoughts on “Is public funding for Ontario Catholic schools back on the political agenda?”
It never went away. It will be an issue for as long as Ontario has a wasteful and discriminatory segregated school system for those of a particular faith favoured in law.
John Tory should have listed to opinion of Ontarians as consistently expressed in polls on the issue. He should have proposed defunding the Catholic school system and merging it with the truly public system — an idea having broad electoral support. As soon as one of the big three parties embraces that position, you may very well see the other two cave in, knowing that the status quo — being incredibly wasteful and discriminatory — is not easy political ground to defend.
I made this an issue in the last election in Toronto Centre. Too bad none of the media thought it worth reporting on at the time.
Has anyone heard the saying, “Variety is the spice of life?” Ontario’s varied cultural mix is its strength! How lovely that our education system reflects this variety, ensures minority rights and reveals the Canadian genius at creating political stability through compromise. Teresa Pierre, Parents As First Educators
I can’t tell if you’re being sardonic by stating that Catholics have more rights than minority religions, or whether you’re implying that publicly funded Catholic schools somehow ensures minority rights.
Comments are closed.