Tory plan to include faith-based schools will strengthen public education

    TORONTO, Sept. 5 /CNW/ - Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory said
today that his plan to expand the public education system by welcoming
faith-based schools will strengthen public education by ensuring Ontarians of
all religions are included in the public system.
    "Leadership is about having the courage to take a stand," said Tory today
after speaking with Grade 4 students at Kamin Education Centre. "I do not
accept the approach of those including Dalton McGuinty who prefer to do
nothing and turn a blind eye to the fact that 53,000 Ontario students are
being left out of our public school system. I see this as an opportunity to
strengthen our public system - to ensure that children of all faiths are part
of a system that reflects and strengthens our shared values and shared belief
in public education through common standards of curriculum, teaching and
    Tory said his plan to strengthen the public system and promote
inclusiveness is based on four key principles:

    -   Expanding Ontario's public school system to reflect and embrace the
        changing diversity in Ontario's population;
    -   Ensuring that, with public funding, comes public accountability
        including: requirements to teach to Ontario curriculum, standardized
        testing, routine inspections, and appropriate teacher credentialing;
    -   Preserving and strengthening Ontario's public school system with an
        additional $2.44 billion in annual investment over last year's levels
        by the end of a four year mandate, $400 million of which will be
        earmarked for expanding the public system by including faith-based
    -   Using the diversity of an expanded public school system to bring
        people closer together and to promote integration within Ontario's
        public education system both through academic programming and
        extracurricular activities where appropriate.

    There are approximately 650,000 children currently attending
publicly-funded Catholic schools while 53,000 students of other religious
backgrounds are being taught in other independently funded faith-based
schools. These other schools are not required to teach the provincial
curriculum or meet the same teacher accreditation or inspection criteria as
the public system. Tory indicated that a PC government would invite these
schools into an expanded public system to ensure equality in education for
Ontarians of all religious backgrounds.
    "I believe in a strong public education system that embraces all students
in Ontario, regardless of their religion," said Tory. "It is not a time for
fear-mongering. It is a time for an open, honest examination of what we can do
to better public education and to build a more inclusive Ontario. Our plan is
about strengthening the public system, and recognizing the diversity of our
    As part of his plan, Tory indicated that he would strike a Public School
Fairness Commission, to make recommendations on the most appropriate way to
bring faith-based schools into the public school system.
    For more information about John Tory's plans to improve Ontario's
education system, visit

For further information:

For further information: Mike Van Soelen, Tel: (647) 722-1760

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