March 25, 2020
Tom Fortosky, Executive Director
Saskatchewan Catholic School Boards Association
Unanimous Saskatchewan Court of Appeal Theodore Case Ruling
Today, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the appeal of the Theodore case in a unanimous decision.
This decision overturns the 2017 ruling that sought to limit public funding for students who choose to attend Catholic schools in Saskatchewan but lack a Catholic baptismal certificate.
We are relieved, reassured and grateful for this decision. Even though the Government of Saskatchewan had assured us they would do whatever is necessary to protect your choice for your child’s education, this ruling confirms what we have said and believed all along: parents know what is best for their children and they should be able to choose Catholic, faith-based education if that is what they want—no matter their reasons, faith backgrounds or traditions.
We are grateful to the parents and guardians of our students for entrusting us with the education of their children. In spite of this period of uncertainty, they have made their choice and we are humbled and honoured that so many continue to choose Catholic education for their children and families.
We are also grateful to the many donors who generously funded the costs of this appeal. Because of them, all eight Catholic boards in the province were able to keep education funds in the classroom and not divert them to cover costly courtroom expenses.
A significant amount of time and money has been spent on this court case, and we are hopeful that we can all refocus our energy and resources on our students and families to build upon the exemplary model of education we have in this province. However, Good Spirit (Public) School Division does have an option to ask the Supreme Court of Canada to consider the case.
le 25 mars 2020
Tom Fortosky, Directeur exécutif
Saskatchewan Catholic School Boards Association
Décision unanime de la cour d’appel de la Saskatchewn de l’affaire judiciaire de Theodore
Aujourd’hui, la cour d’appel de la Saskatchewan a statué en faveur de l’appel de l’affaire judiciaire de Theodore dans une décision unanime.
Cette décision renverse la décision judiciaire de 2017 qui cherchait à limiter le financement public aux élèves qui choisissent de fréquenter une école catholique en Saskatchewan, mais qui n’ont pas un acte de baptême.
Nous sommes soulagés, rassurés et reconnaissants pour cette décision. Même si le gouvernement de la Saskatchewan nous a assuré qu’il était prêt à faire ce qui est nécessaire pour protéger votre choix en matière d’éducation de votre enfant. Cette décision confirme que selon nous: ce sont les parents qui connaissent ce qui est le mieux pour leurs enfants et ils devraient être libres de choisir une éducation basée sur la foi catholique, si c’est ce qu’ils désirent – peu importe leurs raisons, leur éducation religieuse ou leurs traditions.
Nous sommes reconnaissants des parents et des tuteurs de nos élèves qui nous ont confié l’éducation de leurs enfants. Malgré cette période d’incertitude, ils ont fait leur choix et nous sommes honorés et remplis d’humilité qu’autant choisissent l’éducation catholique pour leurs enfants et leurs familles.
Nous sommes aussi reconnaissants des donateurs et donatrices qui ont financé généreusement les couts de cet appel. Grâce à eux, tous les huit conseils catholiques de la province ont pu garder les fonds d’éducation dans la salle de classe au lieu de payer les dépenses couteuses de la salle d’audience de la cour.
Beaucoup de temps et d’argent ont été consacrés à ce cas juridique, et nous avons espoir que nous pouvons remettre toute notre énergie et nos ressources envers nos élèves et nos familles afin de nous appuyer sur le modèle d’éducation exemplaire que nous avons dans cette province. Cependant, la Commission scolaire publique de Good Spirit a l’option de demander à la Cour suprême du Canada de considérer cette affaire judiciaire.
Media Releases and Background
Below you’ll find links to our latest media releases, answers to frequently asked questions and contact information for media spokespeople.
Saskatchewan Court of Appeal Unanimous Ruling, March 25, 2020
Theodore Litigation History and Overview Historical Background Prior to 2005 Statement of Claim.
Theodore Judgement Queen’s Bench for Saskatchewan.
SCSBA Statement Related to the Theodore Court Case Judgement.
SCSBA Statement Related to Government Announcement to Appeal the Theodore Court Case Judgement.
Strengthening education through choice.
Long-running Theodore court case decides non-Catholic students won’t be funded to attend Catholic schools.
Sask. government to appeal court ruling on Catholic school funding.
‘Catholicity’ is up to school board and church to decide.
Non-Catholic parents say they should have choice to send kids to Sask. Catholic schools.
Letter to the editor: It is about parental choice
Common Questions and Answers
What is this court case about?
This court case has been launched by public school divisions to challenge whether non-Catholic parents should have the freedom to choose where their children go to school. Catholic education in Saskatchewan has never been – or should ever be – schools just for Catholics. For over 100 years, Catholic education has been open and available to anyone who wants it for their children. We believe that it should stay that way.
If the Saskatchewan Government has promised to honour the status quo, why mount a defense and participate in this legal fight?
The Government of Saskatchewan has stated that it will maintain the current approach to education funding no matter the court’s decision by invoking the Notwithstanding Clause in the Canadian Constitution. As a practical matter, we would like to see a permanent, court decision on this matter because a decision to invoke the notwithstanding clause needs to be renewed every 5 years. As a matter of principle, we’re committed to appealing any court decision that denies parents the right to choose where their children learn and denies children the opportunity to grow in the welcoming and caring schools we provide.
Wouldn’t the money for this legal fight be better spent on students and resources for classrooms?
All of the money required for our defense has been raised through small contributions from donors right across Saskatchewan. None of our operating funds for schools, classroom resources and students are being used to appeal the court’s decision or mount our legal defense.
Is Catholic division enrollment shrinking so you’ve got to shore up your enrolments with non-Catholic students?
Enrollments in Catholic Schools across Saskatchewan remains very strong. Catholic education in Saskatchewan has never been – or should ever be – schools just for Catholics. For over 100 years, Catholic education has been open and available to anyone who wants it for their children. Parents have always had the ability to choose where their children learn and we’re honoured that so many choose to enrol their children with us.
If you lose this case, how will you decide who’s Catholic enough to stay and who has to go?
We don’t believe it will come to that. The Government of Saskatchewan has stated that it will maintain the current approach to education funding no matter the court’s decision by invoking the Notwithstanding Clause in the Canadian Constitution. Catholic education in Saskatchewan has never been – or should ever be – schools just for Catholics. We are a separate section of Saskatchewan’s publicly funded education system and we will remain open to any family who wants a Catholic, faith-based education for their children.
What’s at stake of the court ruling stands or is left unchecked by the Government of Saskatchewan?
Parents across Saskatchewan are relieved that the Saskatchewan Government has already committed to maintaining the current approach to funding non-Catholic students in Catholic schools. If the court’s decision was upheld, or left unchecked by the Saskatchewan Government, it would:
- Deny the right of Catholic schools to admit non-Catholic students
- Threaten the ability of parents to choose where their children learn
- Limit the education options of non-Catholic parents for their children
- Force non-Catholic parents to fund the costs of their children’s education if they choose to enrol in a Catholic school
- Displace several thousand students and their families across Saskatchewan
- Force Catholic school boards to discriminate based on religion.
Who we are
Open Catholic Education is an initiative sponsored by the Saskatchewan Catholic School Boards Association and endorsed by Saskatchewan's eight Catholic school divisions that provide welcoming and nurturing learning environments for more than 40,000 children across the province.