TVO Battle Blog: Religious School Funding

Crossposted to Today’s question: “An Ipsos-Reid survey released on September 10 reported that 62% of Ontarians are against religious school funding. Did John Tory make a mistake politically by promising to fund faith-based schools?” (400 word limit)

Currently, Ontario uses public money to fund the schools of one denomination of one religion (Catholicism) to the exclusion of all others. On two separate occasions the United Nations has censured Ontario for this clear discrimination on the basis of religion. There are historical reasons why this may have made sense back at the time of confederation, but surely we can agree today that the status quo is unfair and unacceptable.

Given that, I personally concluded several years ago that there were only two options: we must either fund all religious schools or none. And there, in a nutshell, we have the positions of the Conservatives and the Greens, respectively. The fact that the Liberal party and the NDP argue that our government should continue to discriminate on the basis of religion is beyond my comprehension (particularly the cynical Liberal position, which is to pretend to oppose the funding of religious schools, when what they’re actually opposing is the equal funding of all religions).

On this specific issue, therefore, I don’t have much of a desire to criticize the Tory position too strongly, since at least it advocates for fairness. I do not believe, however, that their solution is workable or acceptable to most Ontarians. The Liberals are at least right when they say that the money to fund religious schools would inevitably have to be diverted from public schools, and I’m not sure I want my government getting into the business of deciding which religions are “legitimate” enough to deserve school funding. Did John Tory “make a mistake politically?” Maybe. More importantly, I think he’s mistaken in thinking that his solution is the best for Ontario.

The Green Party position [pdf], on the other hand, is to create one publicly funded school system, where children of all religions and creeds can learn together, and from each other. It is the most realistic and sensible position, and enjoys the support of most Ontarians. We can do it without opening up the constitution, just as other provinces have already done. In addition to resolving the current inequality, this will also eliminate duplications in administration, facilities and transportation between the Catholic and public school boards, getting more out of every education dollar. For me, it’s the obvious choice.

10 thoughts on “TVO Battle Blog: Religious School Funding

  1. im writing a paper can you please give me a good long reason as to the main arguments in favour of funding religious schools…….please don’e e-mail me back i won’t recieve it just write on the wall thank you

  2. Many people who have attended “faith based schools” are really against them. Other provinces have left “faith based schools” like “faith based hospitals” in the past and moved on to public systems that serve “all” of the population. Let’s move out of the past in Ontario and improve the public system we have now. I like that the green party is encouraging public schools to have their own green generating systems for electricity. It will be good to have the schools off the grid if there is ever a crisis in Ontario and we get sent to public schools as a safe haven. Having hospitals and schools generating there own green power would save tax dollars as well. You have to love the GPO!!!

  3. The Greens have adopted a fair and common-sense solution to this issue. We need a single, strong, well-funded public school system that teaches all children how to think critically. Of course, public schools must also strive to help children respect difference and reasonable allowances must be made to enable students of various faiths to pray, observe fasts and holidays, etc.

    Students should also be able to attend a local school — ideally a school that is within safe walking and cycling distance. With a single public school system, most kids should be able to attend a local school that will foster community ties and provide further savings by decreasing the need for buses.

  4. We should be careful with what we are funding, education of children, or school boards and systems.

    Seems every child and parent of that child should be free to send their child to the school they want, and be given the same funding per child.

    Let us make the school boards accountable to the people, to the children.

    We all pay school taxes, all children should get the same funding.

    If a board costs to much, then the parent must add the difference.

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