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Court ruling bars Sask. gov't from funding non-Catholic students in Catholic schools

April 21, 2017 2:23 AM
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Court ruling bars Sask. gov't from funding non-Catholic students in Catholic schools

Decision by Justice Donald Layh poised take effect in June 2018

A Saskatchewan judge has ruled that the provincial government must stop paying for non-Catholic students to attend Catholic schools in the province.

Justice Donald Layh's far-reaching decision was released publicly Thursday afternoon.

It is set to take effect in June 2018, in recognition of its "significant repercussions," according to the ruling.

Layh wrote that funding "non-minority faith students" in Catholic schools violates both the Charter of Rights and "the state's duty of religious neutrality."

The ruling stands to upend the provincial government's current practice of paying for any students who attend Catholic schools, regardless of students' religious affiliations.

Layh's decision stems from a 2005 lawsuit filed by the Good Spirit School Division No. 204 (GSSD) against the Christ the Teacher Roman Catholic Separate School Division No. 212.

At issue was the creation in 2003 of a Catholic school in the village of Theodore, Sask., and the subsequent attendance of provincially-funded non-Catholic students at that school.

The GSSD argued that the constitutional protection of Catholic schools does not include the right for those schools to receive government funding for non–Catholic students.

Bob Leurer, one of three lawyers for the Catholic board, said Thursday evening that the board had only begun to pour over the ruling and was not prepared to comment at the time.


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