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POLL: Over 70 per cent would abolish separate schools

More than 7 out of 10 Village Media readers say in a new poll that Ontario should abolish publicly funded separate Catholic schools in favour of a single public school system
The Sudbury Catholic District School Board flies the Pride flag outside of its main board office June 5, 2023.

Over 70 per cent of Village Media readers in a reader poll said that Ontario should abolish publicly funded separate Catholic schools and have a single public school system. 

Ontario's separate system has been the subject of on-again, off-again debate for decades. Once conceived as a counterbalance to a largely Protestant culture, it has come, to many, to seem like an anomaly in a much more religiously diverse and largely secular society. 

The closest thing to a debate about the fundamentals of the system in recent years was the 2007 provincial election, in which PC leader John Tory ran on a proposal to extend public funding to schools run by other religious bodies. The idea proved unpopular, the PCs' support sagged in polls, and Tory lost the election. 

In late May, a decision by York Region's separate board not to display Pride flags drew widespread condemnation. Premier Doug Ford avoided speaking directly about the controversy, while all three opposition parties said the province should order schools to display them. 

In 1995 and 1997, voters in Newfoundland and Labrador voted to move to a single public system in two referendums.

While a change of that kind in Ontario would require a constitutional amendment, that's not as high a bar as it might sound; a constitutional amendment that only affects one province just needs the consent of that province, and Parliament. 

4,827 of you participated in the poll, which started on Friday of last week. 

There are differences between communities, but I don't see the clear northern-southern regional split that we saw with some other polls, such as those on issues related to the monarchy. In all but two communities, votes were at least 2:1 for a single public system.

Patrick Cain

About the Author: Patrick Cain

Patrick is an online writer and editor in Toronto, focused mostly on data, FOI, maps and visualizations. He has won some awards, been a beat reporter covering digital privacy and cannabis, and started an FOI case that ended in the Supreme Court
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