9.30.2011

Green Party of Ontario addresses inequity in publicly funded schools

Toronto, Ontario – The Green Party of Ontario today called for a Citizen’s Assembly to address the transition to a single school system (French and English), a move which all other provinces have made over the past decade.

“Greens believe in a fair, equitable, and financially responsible school system that enriches learning for all students. All Ontarian's fund our school system, and it is government’s job to ensure that the public has a voice in how that money is spent.” said Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner.

Currently both Public and Catholic boards are funded per student from the same public fund. Canada ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on May 19th, 1976, with the consent of all provinces, including Ontario. In November 1999 and again in November 2005 the same committee censured Canada again for failing to ‘adopt steps in order to eliminate discrimination on the basis of religion in the funding of schools in Ontario.’

“Our current system operates under a constitutional privilege that dates back to when women were not permitted to vote,” explains Justin Trottier, Green Party candidate for Parkdale High Park. “Other provinces, like Quebec, have achieved a bilateral agreement with the Federal government to unify their school boards so that no particular faith is being funded by the province.”

Recently the issue of inequality in our school system has been underscored by Catholic school boards openly denying students the freedom to form Gay Straight Alliances to create more inclusive environments for students and staff.

“Ontarian's pride themselves on their diversity,” said Toronto Centre candidate and LGBT rights activist Mark Daye. "Our education system needs to reflect that."

The Green Party of Ontario believes that our education system must be fair, equitable and efficient for all students, teachers and families. The Green Party is the only party with a plan to allow Ontarian's to address equality in our school system, by moving towards one publicly funded school system, in French and English.

Green MPP's will:
• Call for a citizen’s assembly to review moving to one publicly funded French and English school system to study and offer recommendations on the constitutional, procedural and logistical issues relating to a single public school system in Ontario. The citizens assembly will provide an opportunity for all Ontarian's to comment on and participate in this important discussion. Citizen input is essential to help determine the best way forward.

Facts:
• Under the Constitution Act of 1982, Constitutional change in an area of provincial jurisdiction (such as education) can be accomplished through bilateral agreement between the province and the Parliament of Canada alone. Ten post-1982 amendments have been made to the Constitution, five of which concern denomination education rights. Quebec and Newfoundland once had denominational school systems. Both provinces modernized their school systems in the 1990s.

• Ontario's school boards are publicly funded according to the province's 'funding formula', which is based primarily on student enrollment. Municipal 'school support' designations have no effect on the amount of funding a board receives. Catholic taxpayers are not the sole supporters of Catholic schools. All taxpayers support all schools.

• Canada ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on May 19th, 1976, with the consent of all provinces, including Ontario. In November 1999, the United Nations Human Rights Committee found Canada in violation of the equality provisions of that Covenant by virtue of Ontario's discriminatory school system. In November 2005 the same Committee censured Canada again for failing to ‘adopt steps in order to eliminate discrimination on the basis of religion in the funding of schools in Ontario.’

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