(Queen’s Park): GPO leader Mike Schreiner is calling on the Liberal government to establish a public commission to explore merging the public and Catholic school boards.
“The Liberals have a clear choice,” says Schreiner. “Prioritize high-quality education for all kids or protect the entrenched interests that want special funding for one religion at the exclusion of all others.”
With schools facing financial and social pressures, the GPO believes now is the time to engage public discussion on modernizing Ontario’s education system.
The GPO believes inaction is failing our kids. At a time when parents across the province are rallying to prevent school closures, the Toronto District School Board is considering cuts to cafeterias, educators, mental health professionals, and support staff. Further, Catholic Trustees are opposing student efforts to stop bullying with Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) clubs. Ontario can no longer turn a blind eye to wasteful duplication that compromises quality education and fails to protect at-risk youth.
“The Green Party has the courage to confront social and financial realities,” says education critic and Parry Sound-Muskoka candidate Matt Richter. “Greens want to end expensive duplication and promote an equitable education system where every religion is respected, and no religion is privileged.”
Both Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador modernized their outdated denominational school systems in the 1990’s. The days of needing to publicly fund Catholic schools to protect a minority religion from discrimination or assimilation are long past.
The GPO believes there is no longer justification for maintaining a separate school system when we face cuts to essential services. The government has never studied the costs of a separate system. However, the Federation of Urban Neighbourhoods of Ontario estimates savings of $1.3 billion to $1.6 billion.
The GPO encourages Premier McGuinty to follow his own advice:
"If we're going to bring about more improvement in publicly-funded schools, it is regressive to contemplate segregating our children according to their faith," McGuinty said. "I want our kids to continue coming together."
The GPO supports a single public education system with French and English school boards that prioritize helping all our diverse students meet their full potential.