Toronto

Halton Catholic school board pulls back controversial fundraising rules

The Halton Catholic District School Board has rescinded restrictions on fundraising for organizations that support abortion or euthanasia.

Board had blocked schools from donating to charities it said ran counter to Catholic values

Halton Catholic District School Board Chair Diane Rabenda says that the charity ban was rolled back because the people had spoken. (Diane Rabenda/Twitter)

The Halton Catholic District School Board (HCDSB) has rescinded restrictions on fundraising for organizations that support abortion or euthanasia.

The new rules, which were adopted in February, had sparked a widespread outcry against the board. 

At a meeting this week, trustees voted narrowly to scrap the new "Sanctity of Life" policy.

Documents show 74 per cent of respondents to a board survey opposed the restrictions, with only 21 per cent in favour.

Board chair Diane Rabenda said the people had spoken.

Sick Kids could run afoul of rules

The original motion to restrict where money could be donated said that donations would not go to institutions that "violate the upholding of the sanctity of life from conception to natural death."

Any organizations that "publicly support, either directly or indirectly, abortion, contraception, sterilization, euthanasia, or embryonic stem cell research" were on the no-go list. 

Critics pointed out that organizations such as United Way, the Terry Fox Foundation or Sick Kids hospital could have run afoul of the new rules.

That sparked protest from parents and students, and more than 10,000 people signed a petition against the new ban. 

"If we're not helping other people, how is that us being Catholic?" asked a Grade 10 student who signed the petition. 

Another HCDSB student who had been a patient at Sick Kids, Julia Joseph, told CBC News that she was vehemently against the board's decision.

"I want the kids who shared hospital waiting rooms with me to know that they are important and that their lives matter and that we will support them through anything," she had said. 

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

With files from The Canadian Press