Eight families are taking the Ontario government to court over claims that the province is discriminating against disabled children who attend private religious schools — a case that could reopen Ontario’s contentious education funding debate.
The families, whose case will be heard May 27, said yesterday children are being forced to choose between their faith and their disability because the province won’t pay for services for blind, deaf and learning-disabled students who attend private religious schools.
Those children can only receive those government-funded services if they switch to a public or Catholic school — both of which receive public funds in Ontario, said Allan Kaufman, one of the lawyers representing the families.
Yet children with other disabilities, such as speech impairments, can receive government-funded therapy and services at a private religious school, he said.
The province is essentially discriminating against certain disabled kids because they belong to the wrong faith, he said.
The issue is complicated by the fact that two government ministries are providing funding to help disabled children, Kaufman said.