Ontario can look at â€œmodern and innovativeâ€ ways to cut costs in parallel public and Catholic school systems without ending $7 billion in funding for separate schools, says Education Minister Laurel Broten.
Her comments came Wednesday as the Green Party and others called for an end to the financial support after the Roman Catholic Church objected to parts of an anti-bullying bill designed to protect gay and lesbian students.
â€œThe elephant in the room, public funding of Catholic schools, has become so destructive to fundamental rights and equality itâ€™s impossible to ignore,â€ said Justin Trottier of the Centre for Inquiry, a secular humanist group and registered charity.
But Broten and Finance Minister Dwight Duncan insisted that there are no plans to reconsider the funding as the minority Liberal government struggles to eliminate a $15 billion annual deficit.
â€œWe are not willing to embark on a conversation with respect to seeing an end to Catholic education, which is constitutionally protected,â€ Broten told reporters.
â€œWe havenâ€™t looked at that,â€ added Duncan, who noted retired TD Bank economist Don Drummond also did not examine it in his March report on Ontarioâ€™s cash crunch.
Broten said there are other ways to save money, such as the new joint Catholic and public St. Basil/Walter Gretzky elementary school that opened in Brantford in January, easing overcrowding at two nearby schools. [more]