- Published on Tuesday, 05 June 2012 07:01
- Written by John Draper
- Hits: 1935
Catholic Schools are freeloading on the Ontario taxpayer and it's time it stopped. Ontario Catholic Bishops are objecting to a Government move to force them to have equal rights for gays and this has prompted many to ask "Why do we allow this?" and worse "Why do we subsidize such behaviour?" There is also a lot of misinformation about the subject of Catholic Schools in Canada so I will try to set the record straight.
First, let's go back two elections. At that time, the leader of the Opposition (the Progressive Conservative Party) was John Tory and he was generally a smart and fair man. He saw that Catholic schools were subsidized so proposed that all religious schools should be equally subsidized. This basically caused him to lose the election. What he failed to understand is that other than Catholics and a small minority, the popular feeling was that Catholic schools should not get any subsidy - not that the subsidy should be extended.
Even many nominal Catholics don't care much about the subject because in practice, Catholic Schools are not very different to public schools. Most of the time they are identical. They teach the same Math, English, History, languages and phys ed. There is a perception that perhaps discipline is better - but that's not because they are Catholic, it's because students can be expelled more easily and sent to a public school which must not turn them away.
To justify the need for a separate system, Catholic school board officials will often talk about their schools' "Catholic values." But that implies that only Catholics know how to be moral which is insulting to every other person in the country.
In addition, Catholic Schools encourage students to actively campaign against Canadian values. When they teach social justice, instead of poverty and environmental issues, they focus on abortion and persecuting gays. Yet abortion is not a problem in Canada - it is mostly handled as a medical issue and is seen as the prerogative of each woman to decide. The recent controversy has arisen because of the Government's desire to prevent bullying of gays in schools. The idea is to encourage students to form "Gay-Straight" alliances which emphasize the inherent quality of everyone. But no, that is not allowed for Catholics - they are taught to believe that gays are somehow defective and cannot be equal.
This kind of nonsense is currently allowed in religious sermons on Sundays or in homes - we have freedom of thought and speech which means we must have freedom of religion. But why should it be allowed in schools subsidized by all taxpayers? Let Catholics pay for their own schools if they think they are needed to perpetuate their religion.
You might think "a school is a school" so why would it cost more to have two systems?
Let's look at the numbers.
32% of Ontario's 1.9 million students in publicly funded schools are currently enrolled in the Catholic system. There are currently 29 English Catholic, 31 English public, 8 French Catholic and 4 French public school boards. This means there are 37 Catholic school boards and 35 public school boards in total. The average public school board has 36,449 students, while the average Catholic school board has just 16,245 students. The projected funding for the 2011-12 school year is $14 billion for the public school system and $6.9 billion for the Catholic school system. This means an average cost of $10,998 for public school students and $11,513 for Catholic school students - a $515 discrepancy.
Obviously, the Catholic System is less efficient - there must be savings in Administration and school sizes as well as the obvious rural transportation savings. That's assuming the number of boards would be reduced in an amalgamated system. There would also be fewer schools and employees.
If we assume that an amalgamated system would have the same number of average students as the Public system, there would be 52 school boards.
A study on this idea has shown that savings of $743M per year could be realised. (Source)
|Administration & Support Personnel||$280.8M|
|Student Funding Equalization||$0.00|
|Operation & Maintenance Costs||$324.3M|
Confronted with the cost and the promotion of abusive ideology, Catholics and Politicians will often fall back on the idea that the constitution demands that the current system be continued. That is simply not true.
It is true that Section 93 of the Constitution Act, 1867 offers some protection for the denominational school rights existing at Confederation, but it did not tie the hands of legislators for perpetuity. Note that at Confederation this was only for Primary schools - the subsidy was only extended in 1984 by Premier Bill Davis. But this part of the Constitution can be changed fairly easily - all it needs is a bilateral agreement between the province and the Parliament of Canada alone. In fact Quebec and Newfoundland once had denominational school systems not unlike Ontario's. Both provinces modernized their school systems in the 1990s following constitutional amendments permitting them to eliminate denominational schools. Both provinces worked bilaterally with Ottawa alone in achieving those amendments. In Newfoundland's case, the elapsed time from request to proclamation of the amendment was only four months. Ontario could easily follow suit.
So Premier Dalton McGuinty (photo at right) is misinformed or lying when he says he can't change the rules. But then he and his wife are Catholics so we probably should not expect him to change anything. [Not everyone agrees with my conclusion - one commentator thinks it's all a ploy by McGuinty to defund Catholic Schools - Guelph Mercury]
So in summary:
- The Catholic School system costs Ontario Taxpayers over $700M per year;
- Catholics (or at least their bishops) support values that are increasingly at odds with Canadian values;
- Change is possible without needing other provinces to agree to any constitutional change.
Recommended reading - Janice Kennedy Ottawa Citizen