Roman Catholic boards use our money

The following article appeared in the Brampton Guardian of Friday, October 31 st, 2008 under the headline: “Board chips In $21,000 to promote Catholic education”. (underlining added.)

BRAMPTON – Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board is contributing about $21,000 to province-wide efforts promoting and defending Catholic education.

The local school board and more  than  two  dozen  other  Ontario  Catholic boards comprising the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association (OCSTA) are chipping in thousands of dollars to specifically fund promotional material and campaigns across Ontario. The money is being raised by OCSTA through a “special levy” on its members.

The organization represents 29 Catholic boards and five school authorities, including Dufferin-Peel, that have agreed pay the cash in addition to annual membership fees, said OCSTA Executive Director John Stunt.   The association serves as a provincial voice for Ontario Catholic school boards.

“Our main mission is promoting and protecting Catholic education and we do that on behalf of the boards,” said Stunt.   Association officials and school boards agreed to implement a special levy for the next three years that would pool financial resources to finance focussed promotions province-wide.   The levy is based on enrolment.   Each school board is charged 25 cents per pupil.

Dufferin-Peel’s payment is in addition to this  year’s  regular annual OCSTA    membership  fee  of  $169,550, which is also based on enrolment.

“There was an agreement among the boards they would add a little more to the membership fee and try and focus this (money) on promotional materials and the Catholic school system,” said Stunt.

Membership fees have not been increased since 2001, so the association’s ability to fulfil its mission has been diminishing as costs go up, according to Stunt.   This would allow OCSTA to do more to promote and celebrate Catholic education, he said.

“We’re always aware of those people out there who would like to see Catholic education disappear and they are certainly developing resources,” he added.

As a universal advocate for Ontario’s Catholic education system, OCSTA and the money used to finance its initiatives is money well spent, according to Dufferin-Peel Board Chair Bruno lannicca.   lannicca said he and the other local board members believe they are getting value for the $190,551 dollars Dufferin-Peel will pay OCSTA in membership and levy fees this year. “If you don’t, why would you spend the money?” he said

These days, Catholic school supporters are finding it necessary to defend the system as much as promote it, he suggested.

“At every nook and cranny somebody’s trying to challenge Catholic education.” lannicca remarked.

The association special levy would raise about $140,000 a year, Stunt estimated.  During the next three years there might be some review to see if the levy should be increased, he added.

Our question

The first realization that comes to mind is: “Hey – this is our money they are using in an effort to maintain religious discrimination against us.”

The next obvious thought is that: “If there is any money to be spent here, it should be to eliminate a violation of the Charter of Rights for the benefit of all citizens of Ontario.”

If OCSTA cannot be stopped from implementing their support for religious discrimination, then our own OPSBA (Ontario Public School Boards’ Association) should also be raising money to fund efforts to abolish religious discrimination.   What’s sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander.

CRIPE has raised money from its members to fund our own initiatives — two submissions to the United Nations Human Rights Committee – the publication of a book entitled “Not Carved In Stone” – and a province-wide survey of public opinion in which 79% of 7551 respondents favoured one school system.  This has cost CRIPE just over $200,000 – only a fraction of the amount that the public school boards could raise in one year at 25c per pupil.

There is something wrong here , first with the separate school boards taking the action they have; and secondly, if our own public school boards don’t set a similar levy to counter the separate boards’ initiative, then we are treated as nobodies.



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