Ontario is out of step

GAJE noted last month in a weekly update that public disaffection appears to be increasing over Ontario’s unfair educational funding policies. Our observation was in response to a story in The Toronto Star that a grassroots coalition plans to challenge in court Ontario’s discriminatory separate school funding in Ontario.

A commentary last month in The Toronto Sun by Ben Eisen, director of the Fraser Institute’s Ontario Prosperity Initiative, co-authored with Angela Macleod, a Fraser Institute policy analyst, confirms our observation: public disaffection over Ontario’s unfair educational funding policies seems to be increasing.

Under the headline “Don’t axe funding for Catholic schools – start funding other types of independent schools”, Eisen refers to Ontario’s educational funding policy that “provides full funding for Catholic education and nothing for schools with other religious orientations or other types of independent schools” as an “anachronism”. In describing the policy thus, Eisen is being quite generous to the government of Ontario. The truer, more accurate word is “discriminatory.”

Eisen makes the case that by adopting funding models that already exist in other parts of the country, Ontario would actually save money on its annual educational expenditures and likely enhance overall educational performance in the province.

“Adopting the B.C. model would accomplish two important things,” Eisen writes: “First, it would ease the financial burden on existing independent school families who pay the full cost of their children’s tuition, plus taxes, to support government schools. Second, it would bring independent education and greater educational choice within the financial reach of more families.

“What’s more, contrary to claims that this type of policy “robs” the government-run school system of funding, it can actually save taxpayers money. A 2014 study found that the B.C. model would save Ontario between $849 million and nearly $1.9 billion annually as more families opt for partially-funded schools – not the fully-funded public system.”

Ontario is out of step educationally with the rest of the country. Worse. It is out of step morally with a great many Ontarians.

We urge everyone who feels aggrieved by Ontario’s continuing funding discrimination to demand of the provincial government that it finally bring its policies in line with the rest of the country, in line moreover, with fairness and good conscience.

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Shabbat shalom.

GAJE

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