Non-Catholic students may not attend Catholic schools in the province, as of June 30, 2018, according to a Court of Queen’s Bench judge in Saskatchewan.
Thursday afternoon, Justice Donald Layh says under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, provincial government funding of non-minority faith students attending separate schools is a violation of equality rights.
As a result, children who are not Catholic will have to attend public schools. Non-Catholic students will not be funded to attend Catholic schools in 2018 across the province.
This decision comes after a lawsuit between the Good Spirit School Division (GSSD) and the Christ the Teacher Catholic Separate School Division (CTTS).
That case challenged the 2003 creation of a separate school division in Theodore, Sask., northwest of Yorkton.
In 2004, Yorkdale School Division, now Good Spirit School Division, closed down its kindergarten-to-Grade 8 school in the town of Theodore because of declining enrollment.
The division planned to bus students to the community of Springside, located 30 kilometres away.
Then, Roman Catholics in the Theodore district created the Theodore Roman Catholic Separate School Division.
That prompted Good Spirit School Division to launch a lawsuit claiming the creation of the new school division was not to serve Catholics in the community, but rather to prevent the students from being bussed to a neighbouring town.
Layh’s ruling noted there is a growing number of non-Catholic students attending Catholic schools in the province.
He said provincial government funding of non-minority faith students attending separate schools infringes on religious neutrality and equality rights.
He said his judgment will cause significant repercussions in the province but says his ruling won’t have to be enforced until June 30 of next year.
The Saskatchewan government declined to comment on the ruling, saying it had to review the decision first.