Saskatchewan Catholic school funding decision being appealed
An appeal is being launched in the Catholic school funding decision handed down by a Saskatchewan judge last week.
The Saskatchewan Catholic School Boards Association (SCSBA) said on Friday that an appeal will be filed on behalf of Christ the Teacher School Division.
All eight Catholic school boards in the province said they have endorsed the appeal, given the scope of the decision.
The association said its legal team feels legal errors were made in “finding that the provincial government has to discriminate on the basis of religion in its allocation of funding.”
“At its essence, the Constitution provides the Catholic minority with the right to operate a school system in accordance with Catholic values and beliefs,” SCSBA spokesperson Tom Fortosky said.
“We believe that this includes the right to have an inclusive and welcoming admittance policy consistent with the church’s ecumenical efforts since the Second Vatican Council.”
On April 20, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Donald Layh ruled that the province’s funding of non-Catholic students in Catholic schools violated the “state’s duty of religious neutrality,” under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Layh said it was also a violation of equality rights under the Charter.
The association said they believe the judge “erroneously interpreted several long-standing legal principles” that are related to the Constitution.
“The legal team representing Christ the Teacher School Division in this case has carefully reviewed the trial judge’s lengthy decision, and we believe that there are several strong grounds for appeal,” Fortosky said.
The Saskatchewan government is exploring its legal options, with Premier Brad Wall saying the court ruling has “nothing to do with the interest of the student or the parent or the taxpayers.”
“I’ve asked the justice minister and the minister of education to look at every single option because this simply cannot stand,” Wall stated earlier in the week.
The province is looking at what their constitutional and legislative options are to intervene.
The decision was the result of a lawsuit between the Good Spirit School Division (GSSD) and the Christ the Teacher Catholic Separate School Division (CTTS) when a separate school division was created in 2003 in Theodore, Sask.
Roman Catholic electors in the Theodore district created the Theodore Roman Catholic Separate School Division, which has since amalgamated into CTTS, prior to their public school closing.
Some parents of non-Catholic students in Theodore opted to send their children to the local school instead of being bused to the public school in Springside, Sask.
The York School Division, GSSD, filed a legal complaint against CTTS and the provincial government in 2005, alleging it was unconstitutional for CTTS to receive separate school funding as the separate division was operating a public school.
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