Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Cherniak Forgot about The British North America Act

You see, it's not about doing away with religious schools being funded. It's a constitutional arguement as well. Last time I checked my property tax bill I am paying for my children's Catholic education.

Jason Cherniak said...
It's not a "majority". But if it's the largest ethnic group, I don't think "minority" is accurate either.

For the record Jason, "Catholics are not an ethnic group". They are people from different ethnicities that share a common religion.

Significant Events in the History of Catholic Education
h/t to OCSTA for their history chart.

1841 First School Act for the Province of Upper Canada

There was a need to obtain some financial support from the Crown to pay teachers salaries
Government responds - permitting the establishment of denominational schools and more permanent funding growth

Tache Act

Extends right of Upper Canada's Catholic minority to create and manage their own schools

1863 Scott Act

Sectarian bitterness was very strong and threatened minority rights in Upper Canada
Archbishop Charbonel provides leadership
Government responds
Gave Catholic trustees all the rights and powers of their public school counter-parts: Catholic schools were also allowed a share of Common School fund by Canadian government.

1867 British North America Act

Need to constitutionally secure minority rights of Catholics re: education
Government responds by including Section 93 and the educational rights of the Catholic minority were secured constitutionally

1925 Tiny Township Case

Need for financial support for high schools
Lay Catholic leadership emerges
Government responds - Catholics have just claim for funds for Grades 9 and 10 - no constitutional rights beyond that but opens the door by stating that the provincial government could grant funds beyond Grade 10

1930 Ontario Separate School Trustees' Association is Founded

1930's Catholic Taxpayers' Association

Efforts made to secure equitable distribution of corporate and business tax to Catholic Boards

1950/60 Hope Commission

Recommends that elementary level be cut back to K-6

1961 OSSTA Publishes 1st Catholic Trustee Magazine

Publication continues until 1997 with revised format introduced in 1986
Replaced by Catholic Trustee Newsnotes in 1997

1963 "Equal Opportunity for Continuous Education in Separate Schools of
Ontario" - Brief to Premier and Minister of Education

This was a major step towards obtaining full funding for Catholic schools. The Brief enjoyed the support of all Catholic partners including the Bishops
One of the highlights of the Extension campaign was the Student Rally at Maple Leaf Gardens organized by the Ontario Catholic Students' Federation
In 1971, the Brief was rejected by the then Premier - William Davis

1969 County and District School Boards Created (known as Larger Units of

1969 OECTA/OSSTA Religious Education Courses Launched

Courses in the teaching of catechetics offered in winter and summer
Certificates issued by joint associations to teachers who successfully complete the couse
Courses would eventually expand to Course 1, 2 & 3 and be recognized by the Ministry for qualification purposes

1972 Focus on Faith for the Future program Established by OSSTA

Major thrust of the program was to develop a total Catholic school community which would embrace all its component parts - trustees, teachers, administrators, priests and parents

1976 Blair Commission Tours Province to assess reaction to taxing Catholic High
School Property

Through the combined efforts of clergy, trustees, teachers, parents and students the Tax Plan was scrapped

1978 Government Approves Religious Education Credits for Grades 0 & 10

1980 Bill 82 Grants Catholic schools the right to provide "Special Education"

1984 Grade 9 & 10 Students in Catholic Schools are Recognized as "Secondary"
School Students

1984 Premier Bill Davis Announces Intention to Extend Funding to Grades 11, 12
& 13 (OAC) in Catholic Schools

1985 Passage of Bill 30 (including s.136 1.a.) - Extends Full Funding to Grades 11, 12 & 13 (OAC) in Catholic Schools

Would be challenged in the Court of Appeal of Ontario and in the Supreme Court of Canada Section 136 1.a., a Clause which restricted, to a ten year period, the rights of Catholic school boards to prefer to hire Catholic teachers was inserted. It would later be challenged in Court

1985 Completion Office of the Separate Schools Founded

Provides a forum for Catholic partners, including OSSTA, to address political issues arising from "extension" - Bill 30

1986 Institute for Catholic Education (ICE) Founded by the Ontario Council of
Catholic Bishops

OSSTA is a member of the Institute and actively contributes to the work of the partners around issues of Curriculum, Teacher Education, Faculties of Education, etc.

1986 Bill 30 Declared Constitutional by the Ontario Court of Appeal

1987 Bill 30 Declared Constitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada

1991 ICE Publishes "Blishen Report"
Provides a vision of the goals for Catholic students as they were articulated by parents, clergy, teachers and trustees

1992 Ontario Fair Tax Commission

OSSTA Participates in Work of Property Tax Working Group including presentation of Minority Report

1993 Royal Commission on Learning Appointed
OSSTA attends Hearings and presents Submission; "The Hope That Lives Within Us"

1995 Royal Commission on Learning Issues Report: For the Love of Learning
OSSTA responds

1995 School Councils Established
Purpose is to bring parents and teachers together for the local management of their schools
OSSTA publishes two major documents: Evolution of Catholic School Councils and Involving Other Parents

1995/96 Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs re: Amendment
to Term 17 of the Terms of Union Between Canada and Newfoundland

OSSTA supports Newfoundland Catholics in their fight to protect Catholic Education in their province

1997 Justice Sharpe rules that Section 136 of the Education Act is
Unconstitutional and of no force or effect

This ruling would be appealed in the Appeal Court of Ontario
The Appeal Court supports Justice Sharpe's ruling
Application to appeal the Appeal Court's decision is dismissed
Section 136 was struck out by the Court as it was unconstitutional. Catholic boards have the constitutional authority to take matters of faith into account in hiring, advancing, promoting and dismissing employees. Employees are entitled to challenge such preferential practices, however, where the qualification is not reasonable and bona fide

1997 OSSTA adopts new Name - Ontario Catholic School Trustees' Association

This name more accurately reflects our mission as the provincial representative of English Catholic school trustees

1997 Bill 104 - Fewer School Boards Act (1997)

Roman Catholic Separate School Boards reduced from 53 to 29 Catholic District School Boards and six School Authorities. Catholic trustees reduced from 710 to 250

1997 Education Improvement Commission

Commission mandated to oversee and direct the amalgamation and operation of schools and to oversee the transition of the new system of education governance in Ontario

1997 Bill 160 - Education Quality Improvement Act, 1997

Introduces a fair and equitable funding formula for public and Catholic schools
OCSTA supports direction taken by the Government in the area of curriculum, standards, accountability, reporting and funding
OCSTA expresses reservation about some of the initiative in the area of governance, in the matter of labour relations and negotiations and about the pace of the comprehensive educational reforms in certain areas

1997 Ontario Regulation 461/97 Establishes Policy Guidelines for Representation
of the Interests of Pupils on School Boards

OCSTA publishes "Enbracing the Future: Catholic Pupil Representatives on Catholic School Boards" to help school boards develop local policies
OCSTA Launches Web Site for Student Representatives
OCSTA assists in coordinating in-service opportunities for Student Representatives

1997 Religious Education as Teaching Subject Introduced in Faculties of

1998 Bill 160 - Constitutional Challenges

Justice Peter Cumming (General Division Court of Ontario) finds that it is unconstitutional for the provincial government through Bill 160 to suspend the right of Catholic school boards to set a local mill rate
All other aspects of the challenge are unsuccessful
OCSTA reaffirms that it is unlikely that Catholic boards would see any benefit in exercising their right to tax as raising money beyond equitable levels would be inconsistent with our long-standing goal of fair funding for all students
The government appeals the lower court's decision re: taxation and OPSBA, OECTA, other teacher unions and individuals appeal other parts of the lower court's decision. OCSTA is an intervenor
A panel of 5 Ontario Court of Appeal judges hear the Appeals and eventually reverses the ruling of the lower court. OCSTA is an intervenor
The decision of the Court of Appeal would be challenged in the Supreme Court of Canada

1998 Government Financial Support for Creation of Catholic Curriculum for
Catholic Schools
Coordinated through the Institute for Catholic Education

1999 OCSTA Adopts New Logo

Considerations which guided the design included the need to symbolize in a contemporary style the traditional goals and mission of the Association

2000 Charter of Education Rights and Responsibilities

Heralds an era of accountability
OCSTA publishes document "Visioning the Future: A Reflection on the Charter of Rights and Responsibilities from the perspective of Catholic Schools"

2000 Bill 74 - Education Accountability Act, 2000

2001 Bill 160 Declared Constitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada

2001 Bill 80 - Stability & Excellence in Education Act

2001 Task Force on Effective Schools Established

OCSTA responds with document entitled: A Catholic Response to the Task Force on Effective Schools


Scott Tribe said...

Heh.. I think you went a bit overboard Jim. Merely mentioning about the 1867 BNA act and clarifying what the meaning of "Catholic minority" is would have beeen sufficient, I think.

James Curran said...

Well I do feel it is important to impart history lessons to people who may have not had the benefit of a Catholic education.

For the record, I had to pay for my Catholic high school education. And, I didn't mind.

Jay said...

I think thats the best route.

Pay it yourself.

My experience from segregated schools is one of beating up kids in the "other" school. We have bullying already, we don't need religious bullying as well.

northwestern_lad said...

Jay... the bullying argument doesn't wash with me because kids who bully will bully anyone because of any difference. A bully will bully someone who goes to a different public school too (i've seen a lot of that).

I have gone to both Catholic and Public schools and taught in both systems as well, and honestly, and when it comes down to it, I don't see a reason to change the status quo right now. There are other, more pressing issues out there to deal with in my opinion.

There are so many misconceptions out there about the catholic system and I thank Jim for putting a lot of that history out there.

Jason Cherniak said...

I didn't forget anything. It can be changed with only the provincial and federal government agreeing. Newfoundland and Quebec have both done it without batting an eyelash.

Jay said...

Why does it no longer wash? I grew up in Newfoundland we not only had a Catholic Board but also a United (Church) Board and a Protestant one. The schools were all close together and everyone fought the "dirty" catholics ( I was one of these) and the stupid people at the United school.

So tell me when exactly did childish attitudes just disappear? What modern day miracle makes children behave differently than they have for thousands of years. Let me know so I can pass it on to my husband who is a teacher.

A side note. Newfoundland now only has public schools and religion is not an issue to anyone anymore.

If you divide people for schooling based on any parameter they will discriminate based on that. Its bad enough that people at school X is better than those at school Y. Now take it a step further. Catholic school X is better than public school y. Doesn't take a lot of intelligence to see how that will go down after a soccer match nor does it take a genius to figure out what the taunting will be about. People already have prejudices in school based on grade, age, physical appearance, etc. Why add another parameter for people to pick on?

The status quo is not satisfactory. Children from different boards do not get to mix and learn about others. If you want people to better understand other peoples beliefs, separating them does not do this. It does the opposite.

I would like to know what is the single most important reason for wanting to divide children based on religion. Parents shouldn't be able to force religion on their kids. Shouldn't they make that decision later when they can choose what to believe? Especially when even the religious are unable to figure out who is right or wrong? Projecting your beliefs on a child is horrible and pretty damn close to child abuse. I have encountered kids terrified by the notion of being damned at the age of 7. Should they concern themselves with this at such a young age? Isn't striking terror in your kids child abuse?

There are only children, not a catholic child or a muslim child, or a myriad of other competing notions not rooted in the real world.

Anonymous said...


If McGuinty does this, he can kiss the Catholic vote in Ontario goodbye. It may not matter to you, but to the party that is a sizable proportion of voter support.

Leonard said...

James said:

"Last time I checked my property tax bill I am paying for my children's Catholic education."

Not so James. Talk about misconceptions about Catholic school funding. School support designations have absolutely no effect on the bottom line funding received by any Ontario school board. They are bureaucratic sleight of hand that deceives people into thinking that Catholics pay for their extra choice. The fact is school board funding is now based upon enrolment and other documented needs, not how many ticked off this box or that box. If all Ontario Catholic switched their support designations tomorrow to the public board, Catholic boards would not see a penny less. We all bear the same tax burden based upon our income, not our faith, but only some of us have a guaranteed choice of publicly funded education alternatives for our children.

Another myth pushed by the Catholic school vested interests is that Ontario separate (Catholic) schools are open to all. Ontario Catholic school boards have an absolute right to turn away non-Catholic children until grade 9, when "open access" is supposed to apply (but is often accompanied by hassles to discourage non-Catholics from applying). Teaching positions in the Catholic school board (1/3 of all publicly funded teaching positions in Ontario) are also essentially closed to non-Catholics (2/3 of the population). Catholic school boards have an absolute right to get away with that under current law.

The last and biggest myth surrounding publicly funded Catholic schools in Ontario is that the BNA Act guarantees their existence for perpetuity. Hogwash. You are quite up to speed on the history of separate schools in Ontario, so I'm baffled as to how you missed that, unless you set out intentionally to mislead or deceive. Have a look at Denominational School Rights in the Canadian Constitution.

The duplication penalty borne by Ontario taxpayers in funding multiple school systems serving overlapping jurisdictions is the legacy of 19th-century intolerance between Protestants and Catholics. That intolerance simply does not exist to any significant degree today. Egerton Ryerson, one of the fathers of our education system, foresaw the day when more enlightened views of interfaith relations would enable those two solitudes to be brought back together. He likely never imagined it would take as long as it has.

The authors of our Constitution even provided for the eventual removal of denominational school rights.

The Constitution Act, 1867 (the British North America Act) gives provinces the authority to unilaterally eliminate denominational school systems while providing affected parties with an appeal to the federal Parliament. Manitoba exercised a similar authority in 1890, with Ottawa declining to intervene.

The Constitution Act, 1982, provides an amendment mechanism through which provinces can rescind denominational school rights through a simple bilateral agreement with Ottawa alone (section 43). Quebec and Newfoundland each secured such an amendment in the 1990s, prior to moving to a single public school system for each official language.

Our diverse province should have a public school system that reflects its diversity within classrooms, not across religiously homogenous schools. Multiculturalism should mean respectful and mutually enriching engagement, not isolation and physically separate development.

janfromthebruce said...

What Leonard is talking about is the funding formula that became law through Bill 160. Since 1997, the Harris govt centralized education funding of public and separate schools, and created 4 school board systems - french and english public school boards and french and english catholic school boards. That's right, Ontario props up 4 duplicate school systems with all the redundancy of administration, services and programs.
Funding to all school boards is based on this funding formula and has nothing to do with property owner support for any of these educational systems. However, it does give one the right to vote for a trustee in their designated school system.
As an elected public school trustee who represents taxpayers in my area and children who attend public schools from all faith-based communities, there should be one secular school board system in the prov of Ontario in both official languages of Canada.
Let's get rid of the waste and duplication of buildings, resources, administration, services and so on, and plow the money back into the classroom and kids education, and not adding on more of the same by funding all faith-based schools.
Parents could quit paying fees for programs and quit doing all that fundraising for things that should be paid for in Education.
Kids play and live together in their communities, let's let them learn together too!