Ann Hawkins, president of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association was part of the Friends and Advocates for Catholic Education collective who gathered at Queen’s Park May 29 as part of the group’s annual lobby day appearance. Photo courtesy of OECTA

Friends of Catholic education take their case to Ontario politicians

  • May 30, 2017

Friends and Advocates for Catholic Education made their collective presence known May 29 at Queen's Park during the group's annual lobby day appearance.

“It is important that the people at Queen's Park see how closely together all the partners (in Catholic education) are working,” said Ann Hawkins, president of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association. “It is important that the MPPs get to see that.”

Representatives from the Catholic teachers union, the Ontario Catholic Schools Trustees' Association and the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario — the three groups which make up Friends and Advocates for Catholic Education — spent the day lobbying the province's elected politicians.

Hawkins said the general theme of those conversation was the importance of supporting Catholic education.

“It is the same as every time we go there,” she said. “We're just looking for support for the Catholic education system.”

And with a series of education funding cuts manifesting into widespread concern about school closures, particularly in rural Ontario, that call for support needs to be heard louder than the cries of Catholic education critics.

On May 4, a report put forward by People for Education suggested that as many as 38 Catholic schools were facing closure in the coming year. Hawkins said even the threat of school closures fuels criticism from those opposed to publicly-funded Catholic schools.

“The reality is that any time you get into school closures ... the people who are pushing to go to a one-school system, this is their opportunity to say let's do away with funding for Catholic schools,” said Hawkins.

“It's important that parents have a choice” when it comes to their child's schooling, she said.

After consulting with a number of those who were lobbying on behalf of Catholic education, Hawkins said it appears that the MPPs got the message.

“There were very positive responses from all the MPPs they met with from all three parties,” she said, adding that Minister of Education Mitzie Hunter also showed support for Catholic education by meeting with the group as lobby day began.

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