'I don't think it's fair': Ontario group pushing to end government funding for Catholic schools
One Public Education Now plans to file lawsuit based on Charter of Rights and Freedoms
An Ontario group hoping to end government funding for Catholic schools has renewed its push — saying both a Hamilton teacher and a Markham family have faced discrimination through the school system.
Reva Landau, a retired lawyer and the founder of One Public Education Now, said her organization plans to file a lawsuit to ensure the province's Catholic school boards don't receive public funds, based on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
"We want to be able to put pressure on the political parties," she said.
Landau said two people are willing to go forward as plaintiffs.
Adrienne Havercroft, a teacher with the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, contends the province's public and Catholic school systems should merge because the presence of the separate school board hindered her search for full-time work.
As a non-Catholic, Havercroft claims she was ineligible for one-third of the publicly funded teaching jobs in her region.
'I don't think it's fair'
"I don't think it's fair," she said. "It was very clear that it was not something that was available to people who are not Catholic."
According to the Ministry of Education, only Catholic teachers are eligible for teaching positions at separate schools.
Meanwhile a second plaintiff, a Markham man, has two sons who travel for nearly an hour each way by bus to their French public school in Richmond Hill. The only closer French language option that's 20 minutes away is Catholic — a situation the family feels is unfair, according to Landau.
In a statement to CBC, the Ministry of Education said their focus remains on strengthening the province's publicly funded education system — which includes English-language public, English-language Catholic, French-language public and French-language Catholic school boards — and "ensuring it remains one of the best in the world."
"The province will continue to uphold the constitutional and statutory framework for education in Ontario," the statement continued.
This is not the first time that public funding for Catholic school boards has been controversial in Ontario.
Back in 2013, Landau herself filed a similar motion, but the court refused to consider the matter because she didn't have a direct interest in the case, being neither an employee nor the parent of a child in the public school system.
Jean Lemay, president of the Franco-Ontarian Association of Catholic School Boards, said he isn't worried, adding that the three parties represented in the legislature have already expressed their support for the current system that includes public and Catholic school boards in French and English.
Landau estimates that it will take at least $100,000 to start the proceedings, which she hopes to do before the next provincial election.
To date, $13,000 has been raised.
With files from Katherine Brulotte, Amara McLaughlin