Ontario Catholic schools grapple with court’s no-religion ruling: Walkom
Ontario’s Catholic schools are up against a divisional court decision that gives their students the right to circumvent all facets of Catholicism. National Affair’s journalist, Thomas Walkom, reported that “a panel of three superior court judges has ruled that a Brampton teen attending a nearby Catholic school is under no obligation to attend liturgical services or take part in my other religious activities that the school deems compulsory” (2014). The Dufferin-Peel Catholic District school board has aversely agreed that Ontario’s Education Act gives students the right to opt out of religious classes, but was upset that students were also given the right to opt out of Catholic religious services held in the school auditorium, as well as an annual religious field trip. This decision has most people questioning the point of a religious school system if students have the choice to opt out of religion. As well, many are wondering why public tax dollars are supporting only the Catholic school system and not all religious school systems.
There are four overlapping school systems in Ontario including the English public, English Catholic, French public, and French Catholic. According to OneSchoolSystem.org (2014) this is not only uneconomical and ineffective but it is discriminates between Catholic Ontarians and people of other faiths or no faith. Public dollars are going towards a system that denies admission to non-Catholic students and are does not offer employment to non-Catholic teachers. Governments should be seeking to eliminate religious discrimination in admissions and employment in all publicly funded school systems. Ontario is attempting to move towards a single school system for each official language.
The UN has voiced its displeasure with Canada regarding the public funding of one religious group while inherently discriminating against others. According to Article 2 of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (2014) states that, “everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in the Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” If the government of Ontario continues to back the unjust use of public funds, the public needs to take the initiative that the Erazo family has and enroll children of all faiths into these discriminatory schools, while demanding their freedom of rights as stated in our Canadian Charter and the Universal Declaration. Governments cannot only provide financial support to groups of their choice. They are responsible for supporting and representing all groups with taxpayers’ dollars. If individuals choose to enroll their children in a private school, they should be responsible for the entire cost, religious or otherwise.
Providing Catholic education with public money is archaic and should be modified to support our present day systems. Until Catholic boards are willing to share their expertise with the public at large, they should not be given privileged financial support. Ontario society is welcome to every religion in the world and government funding should not be favorable to anyone particular religion. In my opinion, the Catholic school system has done an amazing job in supporting the growth and learning of Canadian youth and they should continue to do so but in a more democratic manner whereby they are more open to the public with their enrollment and hiring. As well, the Ontario government should look at sharing this funding and supporting all faiths and non-faiths.
Hexham, I. (2014). Origin and Nature Religious World Views. Religion 200 Course Lectures.
OneSchoolSystem.org, (2014). Fast Facts. [online] Available at: http://www.oneschoolsystem.org/fast-facts.html [Accessed 28 Nov. 2014].
Un.org, (2014). The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. [online] Available at:
http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/ [Accessed 29 Nov. 2014].
Walkom, T. (2014, April 9). Ontario Catholic schools grapple with court’s no-religion.
Retrieved November 26, 2014, from http://goo.gl/JVeKLT