Ontario’s unequal, preferential educational funding is anchored in history. It is on the basis of the historic bargain that tied the two great anglophone and francophone societies together that Ontario’s funding policy is legal. Most of the country has moved past the educational funding model that dates to 1867 since most educators and educational policy makers understand that an approach to education based upon political and social conditions of 1867 no longer substantively, let alone morally, serves the best interests of the widely diverse Canada of 2023.
History determines the legality of Ontario’s approach. Sadly, the brazenly unjust, discriminatory nature of that approach plays no role whatsoever in the government’s mind in tainting that legality.
No aspect of the government’s disinterest in the fairness of its policy hurts or enrages more than its unfeeling disregard for the special health support needs of children with disabilities in independent schools. Because the Minister of Education deems all educational aspects of even the disabled child’s learning needs covered by the funding approach anchored in the 1867 agreement, it feels legally entitled to ignore those needs too.
Should not the fact of the child’s disability rather than the address of the child’s school determine whether the ministry underwrites the cost of special learning supports? GAJE long ago pointed out this especially puzzling harshness by the government.
In the consultative run-up to the tabling by the provincial government of its upcoming budget, Cardus, the non-partisan think tank, has published seven recommendations for the Minister of Finance’s consideration. One of the recommendations is aimed at the Ministry of Education and focuses squarely upon this issue, namely, the “inequalities for special education funding”.
We reproduce Cardus’ recommendation in its entirety.
Ensure all students with special needs receive equal funding
“The current provincial approach to special education funding unfairly disadvantages students who attend independent schools. Students with special needs only receive special education funding if they attend a public school. Unlike health funding which is based on a student’s needs and follows them regardless of school type, special education funding is limited based on the type of school the student attends.
“Cardus research from 2019 estimated the cost of extending special education funding to students in independent schools. Our model estimated the cost based on 75 and 50 percent of the per-student allocation for public schools. In these two scenarios, the cost ranged from approximately $52 million to $195 million depending on the funding level and the share of students who require the funding.
“The current approach unfairly penalizes the most vulnerable children in our communities. Ontario can correct this inequality by shifting special education funding from a school-based model to a student-centred model. This student-centred model would fully fund all students with special needs at the same level as their peers in public schools.
“For more details read Cardus’s report:
Funding Fairness for Students in Ontario with Special Education Needs.
Ontario has the means to correct this inequality. Indeed, Ontario has the means to correct and forever eliminate the over-arching inequality that underpins the educational funding it regards as inviolate because of its 1867 historical anchor. But it chooses not to.
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
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)
March 3, 2023