In 1867 Catholic’s represented 17% of the population of Ontario, while Protestants represented 82% and other religions combined to 2% of the population. At the time of the confederation there was an issue that the province would be controlled by a protestant majority and might use its power over education to take away the rights of the minority Roman Catholic population. The solution to this problem was solved by the guarantee of the rights to a denominational education by entrenching it in the Constitution.
Since 1867 the population of Canada has changed along with the different religious beliefs. This exemption of Catholic school being considered public seems discriminatory towards those of different religious beliefs. With Canada’s diverse multicultural population, is it reasonable in Ontario to consider Catholic Schools public and receive government funding , while other religion based schools are considered private, and receive no funding?
The obvious conclusion would be that funding should be limited to public schools that are independent from religious indoctrination because funding of Catholic schools goes against our protected Charter of Rights, current non-religious based public schools are better in meeting the demands of the population, and finally other provinces have began to stop funding of all religion based schools. The first reason against the the funding of Catholic schools is that it goes against our protected Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
In charter section 15 it states that “Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and in particular without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, color, religion…. ”. This means if Catholic schools are funded by the government, why shouldn’t other religious based school be funded as well? The justification of section 15 (2) cannot be applied since Roman Catholics were never disadvantaged in the first place.
Also the idea of this funding towards Catholic schools was created in to allow denominational education towards this particular group in response to the fear of the Catholic community losing its education rights. This does not solve the problem because this action does seem fair to the educational rights of other religious minorities. Also the funding of Catholic schools goes against charter section 2 which gives the “freedom of conscience and religion; freedom of thought, belief and opinion…. Since a normal public school is independent from religious indoctrination why would we then have another public school going completely against that idea of independence of education? We then have cases in which coercion occurs.
This funding also interferes with the idea of everyone being equal before the law since the charter section 29 basically prevents any other section of the charter to abrogates or derogates from any rights or privileges guaranteed by the Constitution of Canada. This allows for Catholic school funding continuing receiving its funding and prevents any individual to take action against this inequality.
The second point which goes against the funding of Catholic Schools is the fact that current non-religious based public schools are better at meeting the demands of Ontario’s multicultural society. Since non-religious schools are free of any religious indoctrination it allows for a sense of equality being recognized by the community. The fact that there is no advantage or disadvantage being put onto a certain religious groups allows for there to be fewer arguments among different religious groups on education equality.
Also since there is no religious beliefs placed in a non-religious based public school it is more free and open to all living in Ontario. Everyone is able to attend a public school without a worry of going against their own religious morals and beliefs. Also the curriculum being taught at a Catholic school is not more advanced than non-religious public schools, but instead the same standard. This means that Catholic schools being recognized as a public school system does not hold any significance except to cause disputes among individuals.
The third and final point which goes against the funding of Catholic schools is the fact that other provinces have stopped funding of all religious based schools. This idea that other provinces have stopped funding these schools shows that a majority of Canada recognizes the problems with this type of funding. In Ontario it is required by law for an individual to get an education until he/she is 18 and may decide otherwise. Since every child gets a chance at a free education through the schools which the government funds, why should there be a preference in school systems which the government also funds?
Why should individuals who pay taxes and send their kids to non-religious public school also have to cover for the cost for individuals who feel more special than the general population? Since no individual is really forced to go to a Catholic public school by law, why should it be considered public? In conclusion the idea of Catholic Schools being considered public was created to protect the education rights of the minority (Roman Catholics) during time of confederation. Now that time has passed the population of Ontario has changed and along with the religious beliefs of that population.
This privilege given to the Roman Catholics now should change to accommodate the population of Canada. This should be done so by limiting funding to public schools that are independent from religious indoctrination because funding of Catholic schools goes against our protected Charter of Rights, current non-religious based public schools are better in meeting the demands of the population, and finally other provinces have began to stop funding of all religion based schools.
Courtney from Study Moose
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