The full frigid freeze of winter in the GTA fell upon us this past week. Our children have returned to in-school learning. May it be thus everlastingly. And may the day soon dawn in Ontario when independent schools- including Jewish day schools – will also receive funding for the 150,000 young Ontarians learning there from the public treasury.
In the year 2022, it strains understanding and belies Queen’s Park’s professed loyalty to the values underpinning our society that Ontario still refuses to do so, that Ontario even differentiates, during a public health crisis, between public and independent schools in protecting the health of students. The next five largest provinces have found the fiscal ability, grounded of course, out of a sense of fairness, to set aside such unconscionable differentiation. In addition, they understand that pluralistic, inclusive educational funding actually improves educational outcomes and is probably more economically efficient in the long run.
Ontario funds the schooling of only one religious denomination.
Ontario differentiates in the health support services it pays for children with learning disabilities depending upon whether those children attend publicly funded or independent schools.
Ontario needed to be prodded and shamed to distribute rapid Covid testing kits to independent schools.
Five months ago, in August, three independent schools – Toronto Cheder, Metropolitan Preparatory Academy in Toronto, and Woodland Christian High School in Kitchener – went to court to try to compel the Government of Ontario to distribute some portion, at least, to independent schools, of the $763 million Safe Return to Class Fund given by Ottawa to Queen’s Park for anti-Covid health and safety protections. It was hoped that a decision could have been made in the case in time for the September return to school. Alas, none has yet been rendered.
We stand at a possible turning point in Ontario’s educational road. Ontario refuses to do the right thing for the benefit of all of its people. We have failed to move the conscience of the government. But we must act nevertheless. We must try to persuade the courts to compel the government to do the right thing.
Our sages have always taught that we must not be bystanders in the face of injustice and unfairness. Rather, we must take a stand. As Rabbi Marc D. Angel has written of such situations, “we must accept personal responsibility and not assume that others will solve the problem for us.”
And so we do. As readers of this weekly update also know, GAJE will be going to court to try to bring an end to Ontario’s discriminatory, unfair, educational funding. We are simply now awaiting the green light from our team of lawyers.
If you wish to help underwrite this lawsuit, 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.
Grassroots for Affordable Jewish Education (GAJE),
January 21, 2022