Support erodes for Ont. Catholic schools

June 4, 2012

TORONTO – The majority of Ontarians are opposed to the public funding of the Catholic education system, according to a survey by Forum Research.

Of 1,072 randomly selected adults polled on May 14, a standard sample size for Ontario, 53 per cent disagreed with current economic support of Catholic schools. This is a four-per-cent jump since Forum Research last asked the question in January.

Forty per cent of respondents favoured funding Catholic boards while six per cent were unsure.

The study also found that 51 per cent of Ontarians believe Catholic schools should be able to create gay-straight alliances (GSAs), with 28 per cent opposed and 21 per cent unsure.

The survey has a 2.99-per-cent margin of error 19 out of 20 times.

Marino Gazzola, Ontario Catholic School Trustees' Association (OCSTA) president, believes media coverage – specifically regarding the GSA issue – contributed to the survey's results.

"The whole fact that there is a huge media circus going on right now with a lot of the issues revolving or surrounding the Catholic side of it . . . could be skewing the support (by) making it difficult to support," said Gazzola.


The media coverage revolves around Bill 13, the province's anti-bullying law that Catholic school boards oppose because of its focus on gender and sexual orientation over other forms of bullying.

Gazzola though, is not all that worried by polls, calling them unreliable.

"A poll is a poll. It's a very small snapshot of people," he said, pointing to the recent Alberta election as evidence of their unreliability. "Polls leading up to the election had the Wildrose Party winning by a landslide and it turned out to be the complete opposite."

Gazzola doubts there will be any change to the system.

"It's working very well right now, it's internationally recognized and I don't see that happening," said Gazzola.

"The Ontario system is one of the best in the world. One of the reasons for that is a full one-third of that system is the Catholic system itself, 600,000 students."