Harper Tories sneak in Harris-style private school tax breaks

    TORONTO, April 5 /CNW/ - In a move reminiscent of the Mike Harris regime,
the Harper government introduced a tax-break for parents who send their
children to private schools. While it received very little attention when the
federal budget was tabled, elementary and secondary school scholarships or
bursaries will now be fully tax-exempt. Even though the tax credit can
theoretically apply to both private and public schools, the overwhelming
beneficiaries of this move will be parents who send their children to private
    "Not too surprising," said Ken Coran, president of the Ontario Secondary
School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF/FEESO). "If you look at the Minister of
Finance and other ministers in this government, their philosophy is certainly
aligned with the former neo-conservative ideology of the Harris regime.
    "While it may not mean that a lot of public dollars are being spent on
this tax break, it does signal where this government's priorities are. There
is motivation to promote and support private over public education," he said.
    "It is interesting because OSSTF/FEESO's own polling has shown that there
isn't a big appetite in the public for diverting tax dollars toward private
education. Yet both the Harper Tories and his provincial counterpart, John
Tory, who if elected would reintroduce some form of private school tax credit,
are on the same page on this issue. It does signal that this appears much more
about ideology than it is about education or benefiting students. Ontario's
public education system is one of the best in the world, but in order to
remain that way and improve, it must be adequately financed. Any tax dollars
that are diverted to private schools, and help pay for educating children of
parents who can afford private education, can only hurt publicly funded
schools," Coran concluded.

    OSSTF/FEESO, founded in 1919, has 60,000 members across Ontario. They
include public high school teachers, occasional teachers, educational
assistants, continuing education teachers and instructors, psychologists,
secretaries, speech-language pathologists, social workers, plant support
personnel, attendance counsellors, and many others in education.

For further information:

For further information: Ken Coran, President, Ontario Secondary School
Teachers' Federation, (416) 751-8300 or 1-800-267-7867

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