These words were written before the Government of Ontario delivered its Budget for 2020.
It is beyond dispute that planning for and budgeting governmental expenditures during an unsubdued, cruel pandemic is unenviably challenging. And there is no denying that fiscal allowances for the havoc being wrought by Covid-19 requires courageously authorized, disciplined deficit budgeting aimed at saving the lives, livelihoods and dignity of Ontarians. We can only hope that Premier Ford and Finance Minister Rod Phillips produce a plan imbued with wisdom, compassion and principle.
But we emphasize, as we did in last week’s update, even severe fiscal challenges do not justify turning a blind eye to blatant unfairness and injustice. Ontario’s educational funding stands on a pillar of unfairness towards families in independent schools. The unfairness is manifest even in depriving funding from the Ministry of Education for students with special needs in independent schools.
As we also pointed out last week, the Province has thus far refused to disburse to independent schools the funds – about $350 per student – that were allocated to the province by the federal government based upon a head count of all Ontario’s children between ages 4 – 18. Reliable, communal organizations could help the government distribute these funds to the independent schools on behalf of their respective students if the government wished the independent schools to receive the funds intended for their students.
Last year the budget of the Ministry of Education was more than $31 billion. The 130,000 plus students attending independent schools receive no funding from that budget. How is that fair? It is not.
Let us pay close attention to the release of Ontario’s new budget to see if the unfairness is remedied. If it is not, please let your Member of Parliament know that your conscience is outraged. His or hers should be too.
Be safe. Stay safe. Be well. Stay well. Be strong. Stay strong.
Shabbat shalom. GAJE