Government Will Use Notwithstanding Clause to Protect School Choice for Parents and Students
Move Will Set Aside Recent Court of Queen’s Bench Ruling
Premier Brad Wall today announced the government will protect school choice in Saskatchewan by invoking the notwithstanding clause of The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The move comes in response to a recent Court of Queen’s Bench ruling that, if allowed to stand, would force about 10,000 non-Catholic students out of Catholic schools. The ruling could also risk provincial funding of 26 other faith-based schools including Luther College, Regina Christian School, Saskatoon Christian School and Huda School.
“We support school choice including public, separate and faith-based schools,” Wall said. “We will defend school choice for students and parents. By invoking the notwithstanding clause we are protecting the rights of parents and students to choose the schools that work best for their families, regardless of their religious faith.”
Section 33 of The Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives provincial legislatures the authority to override certain portions of the Charter for a five year term. Invoking the notwithstanding clause requires an Act of the Legislative Assembly.
“I have asked the Ministers of Education and Justice to begin preparing legislation to invoke the notwithstanding clause to protect choice in our school system,” Wall said. “We wanted to announce this now to provide clarity and provide parents with the assurance that they will be able to continue to choose the kind of school they want their children to attend.”
The government’s action is in response to an April 20 Court of Queen’s Bench ruling on a legal challenge by the Good Spirit School Division of Christ the Teacher Catholic Schools’ right to receive provincial funding for non-Catholic students. The Court ruled that the government must stop funding non-minority faith students to attend separate schools.