In Ontario, in education, it still pays to be Catholic. This situation has the explicit and public support of the ONDP brass, although most of the party membership, I'd wager, do not share their views.
The following letter was submitted to the Niagara Falls Review in response to the article Mother loses fight for kids' school bus, printed September 17, 2009.
Printed September 25, 2009:
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
I CANNOT BRING MYSELF to have much sympathy for Tammy Mott. As a member of Ontario's pre-eminent faith under law, she is guaranteed a choice of publicly funded schools wherever she chooses to live in this province and ultimately, that choice provided her with busing for her children. Non-Catholics are often not so lucky.
Like Ms. Mott, I live within walking distance of a school, albeit a public one, not Catholic. That school was so overcrowded during my childrens' kindergarten years the school board bused kindergarten-aged kids 90 minutes a day to a community far away for the 2 1 /2 hour school day.
I found that unacceptable and tried to enrol my children in the local Catholic school, where I was turned down cold on account of the non-Catholic "colour" of my faith.
I ended up paying a private school nearly $20,000 a year for two years to escape an overcrowding situation that my Catholic neighbours could escape for free by going to the Catholic school that had rejected my children.
After reaching grade school age, my children walked the 1.5 kilometres from their babysitter's house to their school for six years.
She lived just within the 1.6-km busing limit for grades 1 to 6 in the Ottawa public school board. Again, I could not have switched to the Catholic school, where my children would have been bused, even if I had wanted to.
In Ottawa, parents of public high school students living in the urban transit area must pay $626 per child per year for bus passes while the Catholic board furnishes those same passes to their high school students for free.
Ms. Mott should count her blessings. In Ontario, it still pays to be Catholic. One day, hopefully in my children's lifetimes, the rest of us will enjoy equal respect and consideration from a religiously neutral provincial government.
Leonard Baak, President,
Education Equality in Ontario