Federal funding for private schools: a cautionary tale - 2019-08-06
In his successful 2017 leadership campaign, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer proposed a $4,000 federal personal income tax deduction for parents who send their kids to private and religious schools. This pledge won many social conservatives to his cause, putting him over the top on the last ballot. Scheer may now hope the same political logic will pay dividends in the coming federal election.
If replicated in the final Tory platform, Scheer's pledge might cost Ottawa between $1.5 billion and $2 billion a year – not the most expensive election promise ever. But for anyone concerned with public education and its importance to social and economic equality, it would plant a ticking time bomb at the core of Canada's school system.
I have learned first-hand of the risks and unintended consequences of government-subsidized private schools in my time in Australia, where I moved from Toronto in 2016. My daughter attended public high school there. But the entire education system in Australia has been distorted by a historic shift toward private schools. Worryingly, that shift got started with a policy very similar to Scheer's.