At a town hall meeting earlier this week in Thunder Bay, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne fielded a question about the two school boards in the area advertising against each other for students. The premier correctly decried the wastage of public funds and she added “But we’re not going to move away from the systems that are rooted in the history of the province at this point.”
It was a shame that no one asked her about the inherent injustice and unfairness in the systems. Ontario’s current educational funding policy is indeed “rooted in the history of the province”. But there is absolutely no historic or constitutional or any other obstacle to making educational funding fair for all Ontarians who wish to educate their children outside the public or Catholic school systems.
The five most populous provinces in the country – outside Ontario – do provide some measure of public funding to independent schools, denominational and non-denominational schools. The most populous and arguably, wealthiest province – Ontario – does not.
It cannot be argued that Ontario cannot afford to do so. For how are the other five, less “wealthy” provinces able to afford to do so?
It cannot be argued that to do so risks harming the tolerance and inclusivism of our multicultural society, because it does not do so in those other five provinces.
It cannot be argued that to do so risks harming the overall public and Catholic school boards because it clearly does not harm the school boards in those other five provinces.
It cannot be argued that to do so risks harming the actual educational outcomes among the student body of the province, because the evidence points to the contrary. The Fraser Institute has empirically proven that the educational outcomes are higher, for example, in British Columbia – where independent schools do receive government support – than in Ontario.
GAJE does not nor has it ever called for the dismantling of the Ontario educational system that is “rooted in the history of the province.” But GAJE – as indeed others too – has always called for the system to be rooted also in fairness and justice and conscience. History does not preclude fairness and justice. A lack of conscience does.
We should let the Premier know.