The turbulent waters of funding for religious schools were navigated by Ontario government lawyers Thursday as they vehemently defended the decision to deny certain disability benefits to children attending private schools.

“Nobody gets publicly funded private schools,” government lawyer Robert Charney told a three-judge panel in Ontario Superior Court. “The government doesn't have to fund what everybody needs.”

The battle started two years ago after eight families launched a lawsuit against the Ontario government because it refused to fund services at private religious schools for blind, deaf and learning-disabled children.

The lawyers for the families say the distinctions made between the disabilities which receive support and those that don't is arbitrary and discriminatory.