Public Funding of Catholic Schools in Ontario

Last week, Indi published a post on the results of a Forum Poll on public support for the public funding of Ontario Catholic schools. In response to Diana MacPherson’s comment, I said,

Please suggest to anyone who does not realize that all Ontario taxpayers support all four Ontario school systems to contact me using the “Contact” page above. I have done extensive research on how the funding works and would be pleased to explain it to anyone who wants to know.

 

A reader contacted me, and here is an updated copy of the reply I sent to him:

A couple of months ago, I began working to get the phrase, “The information will be used to direct your school taxes;” removed from the Application for Direction of School Support form because I was convinced that there was no connection between indicating public or separate school support on the form and allocation of tax dollars to school boards. However, I discovered that there is a very real connection: the education portion of municipal tax dollars goes to the local school board which the property owner chooses to support.

I was made aware of this through a very simple method. I called the tax office for my municipality. I was told that in 2014, the education portion of my municipal taxes: $322.77 went to the municipal school board I chose to support: English public in my case. Of course, $322.77 would not pay to educate even one student.

An article in Northern Life explains,

property taxes only account for about a third of the province’s overall education budget, according to Ministry of Education spokesperson Gary Wheeler.

For the 2013-2014 school year, the total allocation for Ontario’s elementary and secondary education is projected to be almost $21 billion.

Property taxes will contribute about $6.8 billion. The rest — $14 billion — comes from general provincial revenue streams.

Wheeler said the province takes property tax dollars, combines them with provincial dollars “up to the level set by the funding formula,” and distributes them to each school board.

The article goes on to say that,

The percentage of school boards’ budgets covered by property taxes differs depending on their religious and language affiliation.

With English public boards, property taxes account for 35.7 per cent of funding, in English Catholic boards, 26.6 per cent, French public boards 13.2 per cent and French Catholic boards 14.2 per cent.

The rest comes from provincial grants.

So while it is true that “Every Ontario taxpayer pays for education,” property owners get to decide which school board in their municipality gets the education portion of their municipal tax dollars.

Further reading:

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