The Fiscal Cost to Support Students in Ontario Independent Schools

In the past, GAJE has referred to original research by Cardus on matters touching upon education policy in Ontario. According to its website, “Cardus is an independent think tank located in the heart of Canada. It is dedicated to “helping people live together at their best” and strives to work “toward a healthy society.”

Cardus’ research makes the case for tolerant, inclusive communal life lived on the basis of values that are rich in tradition and mutual respect. As its website states, the think tank “focuses on human dignity, strong families, religious freedom, formative education, and healthy communities.”

Cardus has just published a study that brings information not conjecture, fact not myth, to the important question of how much it would actually cost the Government of Ontario to end its educational funding discrimination against the families and children of independent schools.

Funding All Students: A Comparative Economic Analysis of the Fiscal Cost to Support Students in Ontario Independent Schools is co-authored by David Hunt, Anointing Momoh and Deani Van Pelt. It is invaluable in the discussion about fair, equitable funding in the education of all of Ontario’s children.

Because it is imperative that GAJE supporters be aware of the substance and import of Funding All Students, we reproduce the study’s executive summary.

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Executive Summary

“This study presents the hypothetical economic costs of funding Ontario’s independent schools, if the province were to fully fund the sector or apply any of the existing partial-funding models in Canada.

“But before conducting the cost analysis, we first establish context and ask: Why should Ontario fund students at independent schools? Simply, as education is a socially formational good, society has a general interest in the education of the next generation of citizens. It is on this basis that taxes are raised to fund any child’s education. But as a morally formational good, parents have a prior and universal right to choose—and deeply personal interest in—their child’s education, and thus these public funds should follow families to their preferred school.

“Accordingly, funding is the norm around the world, as well as in Canada. Globally, 73 percent of countries at least partially fund independent schools—only one OECD country does not. In Canada outside Ontario, 75 percent of independent schools and 84 percent of independent-school students are partially publicly funded. Put differently, Ontario’s lack of funding is anomalous in both a global and Canadian context. We discuss the four main objections to funding and conclude that Ontario’s lack of financial support for independent-school students is an unjust and inequitable policy—uncharacteristic of a democratically elected government, especially in an advanced economy—that further disadvantages the already disadvantaged.

To rectify this eccentric and unjust policy, there are seven funding schemes, all taken from actual practice in Canada, to estimate the cost of funding students in Ontario’s independent schools. (Our emphasis) The first applies full government funding to Ontario’s independent sector. Alternatively, Ontario can partially fund independent schools using a similar approach as any of the other provinces that partially fund this sector—from west to east: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan (two models), Manitoba, and Quebec. (In each of the seven funding schemes, the model recognizes that not all independent schools would qualify for or accept government funding, and this fact is accounted for in the analyses.)

“Each cost estimate factors into the respective model three plausible enrolment scenarios—our best estimates of the lower bound (scenario 1), most plausible case (scenario 2), and upper bound (scenario 3) of first-year enrolment levels that will result from implementing any of the seven options. Scenario 1 is based on no change in enrolments. Scenario 2 assumes a 7.8 percent first-year increase in enrolment, based on the experience of a short-lived Ontario policy introduced twenty years ago. And scenario 3 assumes an 18.3 percent first-year increase in enrolment, based on the most recent Canadian experience of a similar policy change—Saskatchewan’s expansion of funding for independent schools through the creation of the new Qualified independent school category.

“Applying these three scenarios to each of the seven provincial funding schemes results in twenty-one cost estimations, ranging between $535.2 million and $1.539 billion in net annual cost to Ontario taxpayers. For context, within the scope of Ontario’s $186 billion annual budget, this is around 1/3 to 4/5 of 1 percent (0.3% to 0.8%) of the budget. In other words, any of these funding options is a relatively minimal cost to substantially benefit the families who need it most.”

The complete study is available at:

https://www.cardus.ca/research/education/reports/the-cost-to-fund-students-in-ontario-independent-schools/

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GAJE hopes to soon announce the launch of a lawsuit to try to end the inequity and the discrimination in Ontario’s funding of the educational system. We are deeply appreciative of the many individuals who have thus far joined our cause, who have contributed to helping underwrite the lawsuit. We are approximately half way to the amount needed.

This is our generation’s opportunity to do the right thing for our children’s and grandchildren’s Jewish education. Please encourage your friends to join in our effort. If we do not try, who will? 

To donate to the cause, please click here.

(For further information, please contact Israel Mida at imida1818@gmail.com)

Charitable receipts for donations for income tax purposes will be issued by Mizrachi Canada. Your donations will be used for the sole purpose of underwriting the costs of the lawsuit.

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Be safe. Be well.

Shabbat shalom.

Grassroots for Affordable Jewish Education (GAJE)  

October 1, 2021

Posted in Uncategorized
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