A Liberal leadership hopeful wants Ontario to end the public funding of Catholic schools.
Alvin Tedjo would like to see the four public and separate school systems merged into secular English and French boards.
“For students, this change means the convenience of attending their closest school, less time on the bus and access to an optional religious curriculum,” Tedjo said in a news release Thursday.
“For teachers and early childhood educators, it means smaller class sizes, availability of more resources and the freedom to teach in any publicly funded school.”
Citing a 2012 Federation of Urban Neighbourhoods study, he estimated merging the systems could save between $1.2 billion and $1.6 billion.
While provinces like Quebec and Newfoundland abandoned the public funding of Catholic schools years ago, defunding separate schools in Ontario would require a constitutional amendment.
The Green Party of Ontario has long advocated for a secular public system.
Twenty years ago, the United Nations Human Rights Committee said it was discriminatory to use taxpayers’ money to fund one religion’s schools over other faiths.
Greg Oliver, president of the Canadian Secular Alliance, praised Tedjo for his plan.
“We applaud Alvin’s proposal to create a single, publicly funded school system for each official language,” said Oliver.
“All Ontario children should learn and play together in a multicultural and pluralistic setting. Teachers deserve an employment market free from religious discrimination.”
A runner-up in Oakville-Burlington North in the 2018 election, Tedjo is one of four confirmed candidates in the Liberal leadership contest that will be decided at a delegated convention on March 7 in Mississauga.
The front-runner is widely seen to be former minister Steven Del Duca, who lost Vaughan-Woodbridge to Progressive Conservative Michael Tibollo in last year’s election
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MPP Michael Coteau (Don Valley East), also a minister in former premier Kathleen Wynne’s cabinet, MPP Mitzie Hunter (Scarborough Guildwood), another ex-minister, and Kate Graham, who finished third last year in London North Centre, are the other candidates.
Former MPP Arthur Potts (Beaches-East York) is expected to enter the contest within days.