An Ontario judge has re-affirmed what all Ontarians – and Canadians – have known for many years: funding Catholic schools in Ontario is constitutional and legal. The Superior Court dismissed an application brough by Adrienne Havercroft that sought a ruling ending public funding for separate schools in the province.
Judge Fred Myers agreed with the province that the application should be struck even before a full hearing on the matter as showing no cause of action. He noted that the “Supreme Court of Canada has determined the issues already. The issues raised in this application are not new. There has been no change in circumstances that fundamentally shifts the parameters of the legal debate.”
Regular readers of this update, supporters, and followers of GAJE know that the government of Ontario has brought the same motion to strike GAJE’s application to achieve fair, equitable, funding. That motion is scheduled to be heard April 20.
It should be stated and restated at the very outset that there is no similarity between the relief GAJE seeks and that which Ms. Havercroft sought.
The Havercroft application sought to abolish funding for Catholic schools. The original purpose of that funding in 1867 was to protect religious minorities in the confederating provinces. GAJE’s application seeks to extend that original positive intention to protect minorities to other religious minorities as well. The differences between the two applications could not be starker.
David Hunt, education program director of Cardus made this very point to the Catholic Register.
He pointed out that some 61% of Canadians support at least partial funding for other religious school systems as is the case in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec.
“If we’re going to have religious freedom, that requires educational freedom to preserve and pass on the faith. If we believe in religious freedom here in Canada, that religious freedom needs to extend through all legitimate faith communities,” he said.
Hunt reminded the Register that Cardus has produced an economic analysis that showed an expansion of religious education rights would cost the Ontario treasury between 0.3- to 0.8-per-cent increase in the provincial budget depending upon the model of funding adopted by the province.
“The reason we fund any schools,” Hunt said, “is because the education of my neighbour’s kids or the lack thereof is going to have a profound impact on, not just that immediate family, but the entire community. That’s why we fund education, because it is a social good that impacts all of us”.
GAJE emphatically agrees with Hunt. Funding Catholic education in school is legal. But why should the province not be moved by conscience, by seeking the best educational outcomes, or by seeking the best civic examples and outcomes, to also fund other religious communities and independent schools too?
The story about the decision in the Hamilton Spectator is available at:
The story about the decision in The Catholic Register story is available at:
If you wish to contribute to GAJE’s lawsuit for fairness in educational funding, please click here.
For further information, please contact Israel Mida at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Grassroots for Affordable Jewish Education (GAJE)
January 20, 2023