Some ten months ago, in January, Ontario’s Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce proudly announced: “To ensure our schools remain safe in January 2021 and beyond…We will do whatever it takes to ensure our kids can continue to learn.”
The minister had in mind enhancing and upgrading the abilities of schools to provide a safe learning environment for their students and to rapidly test students to detect the presence of the Covid virus. To help fund the ambitious but vital safety program, the province benefited from the federal government Safe Return to Class Fund. Indeed, Ottawa gave Queen’s Park $763 million for the express purpose of making Ontario’s schools more Covid-safe.
But when he spoke about doing “whatever it takes to ensure our kids can continue to learn” Minister Lecce had in mind only the kids who attend public school. The 150,000 children attending independent schools – denominational and non-denominational – were left on their own, to fend for themselves against the horrific pandemic threat even though the amount of money given by Ottawa to Queen’s Park was based upon the number of all children from 4-18 years old attending school in Ontario. (Our emphasis)
In August, three independent schools challenged in Court, Ontario’s refusal to disburse any monies from the Safe Return to Class Fund to protect independent school children. The court decision is still pending.
Further to his promise to “do whatever it takes to ensure our kids can continue to learn,” starting on November 15, Ontario’s schools will receive take-home rapid Covid testing kits. But again, Minister Lecce had in mind only “publicly funded schools.” And again, the 150,000 kids in the province’s independent schools have been left on their own.
In responding to the public health crisis wrought by Covid-19, the province differentiates between children in publicly funded schools and those in independent schools. By what measure of conscience, morality, public health planning or earnest concern for the safety of all children in their classrooms is such governmentally-originated discrimination justifiable?
It is not. It is unconscionable. Ontario’s indifference to the health of independent school children is stunning and unworthy of a government in Canada in the year 2021.
GAJE hopes to soon launch a lawsuit to try to end the Government of Ontario’s funding discrimination against Jewish (and other) independent schools. We are deeply appreciative of the many individuals who have to date joined our cause, who have contributed in helping underwrite the legal effort. Thus far, we have raised half of the amount needed. Please encourage your friends to also join in our effort. If we do not care, who will?
To donate to the cause, please click here.
(For further information, please contact Israel Mida at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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.
Be safe. Be well. Shabbat shalom.
Grassroots for Affordable Jewish Education (GAJE)
November 5, 2021