Halton Catholic school board votes to stop raising funds for charities that violate 'sanctity of life'

The board will no longer raise funds for organizations that "publicly support, either directly or indirectly, abortion, contraception, sterilization, euthanasia, or embryonic stem cell research."

Board won't support organizations it says are not in keeping with the Catholic mission

Stem cells are unspecified cells that have the potential to develop into different types of adult cells. (Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty)

A controversial vote at the Halton Catholic District School Board could cost Canadian and international charities and non-profits millions of dollars if they support a woman's right to an abortion, contraception or other activities that violate "the sanctity of life." 

On Tuesday, trustees voted 5 to 3 in favour of a motion to ensure that funds raised through the board's 46 elementary schools and nine secondary schools are donated to "charities and organizations that support activities that are in keeping with the mission of our Catholic school system."

The motion states that donations will not go to institutions that "violate the upholding of the sanctity of life from conception to natural death."

That means financial donations will not go to charities or non-profits that "publicly support, either directly or indirectly, abortion, contraception, sterilization, euthanasia, or embryonic stem cell research."

Asked for a list of groups that meet that criteria, board spokesperson Amanda Bartucci said in a statement: "Over the coming months, the list of all charities and non-profit organizations that currently receive financial donations from schools with the Halton Catholic  District School Board will be reviewed to ensure compliance with the motion."

Keith Boyd, president of Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association's Halton unit, opposed the motion. (OECTA)

The Halton Catholic board has 33,000 students who raise about $12 million a year.

The Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association's president for Halton, Keith Boyd, opposed the motion, which he says could stop students from raising money for global aid groups and umbrella organizations that fund diverse charities.

"The significant piece to me is the word 'indirect,'" said Boyd, who has not seen the proposed list of restricted organizations.

"Most local hospitals, the Canadian Cancer Society; I heard the United Way is on that list," he said. 

"The United Way is an umbrella organization with multiple local charities. You could have 30 charities and if one of them promotes the use of contraception, the whole charity appears to be out of bounds for our board."

Boyd says trustees had been urged to revisit the motion, which first passed at the Jan. 16 regular board meeting, In a second vote this week trustees, defeated the motion, but then passed it again a few hours later.