CFIC has been working with other secular organizations to promote a petition to end the public funding of separate Catholic school boards. We have been able to extend the deadline for submissions. If you can possibly obtain more signatures, please do.
We have received some questions about the petition and are happy to provide some answers:
Q – Why do we have to use a paper copy and mail it?
A – This standard requirement comes from the Province of Ontario.
Q – I’ve e-signed government petitions in the past. What’s different now?
A – The Federal government permits the use of e-petitions. They may also be used by other provinces. However, the Province of Ontario only accepts paper copies of petitions with original signatures.
Q – Why not just use an online petition program?
A – Online petitions are a way for people to express an interest in a topic. However, they have no legal standing and generally are not helpful in promoting a cause.
Q – Alberta and Saskatchewan also have publicly funded Catholic school boards. Why is this petition only for Ontario?
A – One of our members arranged to have a petition presented to the Legislative Assembly in Ontario. We have supported this member to get signatures. We would welcome the opportunity to support similar endeavours in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Q – You say funding the Catholic school board in Ontario costs $1.5 billion. How did you arrive at this number?
A – This is a lengthy answer. The figure of $1.5 billion a year comes from the Federation of Urban Neighbourhoods of Ontario, Ontario Public and Catholic School Merger Study, March 2012.
On the one hand, there have been some board mergers that have reduced the amount spent on board trustees, their administrative staff, etc. On the other hand, there has been inflation. So it is hard to say exactly what the current figure is, especially because the provincial government is not, shall we say, transparent about exactly what the money is spent on, beyond the broad categories. Further, Catholic school boards go across the same geographical area as public school boards. Ontario spends more money on the costs associated with having more than one board than if there were only one board for all English-speaking schools.
We also know that in general, boards with fewer students (up to a certain size) spend more money per student on administrative costs than boards with more students. All boards, no matter how few students, have certain costs: salaries of trustees and their administrative staff; facilities for the board and their administrative staff; superintendents of education and their staff; supplies and IT support across the board.
Especially outside the large cities, the cost per student of the smaller Catholic school board is more than its corresponding public school board. And even the public school board spends more per student than it would if all the students in the geographical area were represented by one board. It may be that the Catholic school board spends more per student than the public school board. This might not apply to boards such as Toronto, where even the Catholic school board is quite big. Merging would not necessarily bring economies of scale. But it would apply to enough boards that there would be savings.
The costs of bus transportation per student in Catholic school boards is generally higher than the costs of bus transportation in public school boards because they have to transport fewer students over the same area. And even public school boards might spend more on bus transportation (drivers, fuel, vehicle maintenance) than they would in an amalgamated system, because the closest publicly funded school may be a Catholic school with relatively inflated costs.
Savings would be based on eliminating duplicate administration costs, facility costs, and excess transportation costs. And of course there would be economies of scale in purchasing supplies, etc. Further, there may be under-utilized schools near each other — one in the Catholic school board, and one in the public school board. With one public school system, one school might be able to be closed, without requiring students to travel any farther.
Suppose there were two fire services over the same geographical area. One was for everyone including Catholics, and the other one only for Catholics. Each had their own administration, fire stations, supplies, etc. And when there was a fire, instead of the closest fire station sending out a fire engine, it would depend on which fire service you were affiliated with. Wouldn’t we all agree that this makes no sense?
If all Ontario students in the English boards went to one school, there could be enough students to provide a wide variety of courses at a local high school in each town. But because the students are split between two English boards, neither board has enough students to keep the schools going in the local towns.
We are proposing one public school system with English and French boards.
Please print the petition, sign, get others to sign, and (this is the most important part) return your signed petitions by mail to:
Petitions ℅ Centre for Inquiry Canada PO Box 83045, Ottawa RPO Bank & Walkley Ontario K1V 1A3
We would like to receive the petitions as soon as possible, but if you have an opportunity to get more signatures, hang on to them just a bit longer.
Please do not change or annotate the petition. Any changes, including written notations, may invalidate the form, including all signatures on the page. If you have additional questions please contact Petitions@Centreforinquiry.ca.