The Saskatchewan government has submitted legislation to invoke the notwithstanding clause in the Charter.
The legislation was tabled Wednesday in response to the Crown Court ruling which declared funding non-Catholic students at Catholic students unconstitutional.
- Saskatchewan court rules non-Catholic students may not attend Catholic schools
- Saskatchewan Catholic School Board to appeal court ruling
Minister of Education Bronwyn Eyre says the government is appealing the court’s decision.
“We as a government deliberated on this carefully, ” Eyre said. “We think the real problem here, the problem to avoid is the upheaval to families and students that this could cause if that were to occur.”
Eyre says she expects the appeal process to take anywhere from six to 18 months.
According to a government spokesperson, both the Government of Saskatchewan and Christ the Teacher Roman Catholic Separate School Division have filed appeals.
The use of the notwithstanding clause expires after five years. However, it can be renewed after each five year period. Other legal options could be pursued during this time frame.
The last time the notwithstanding clause was used was in 1986, when the Saskatchewan legislature introduced back-to-work legislation to end a strike by public service employees.
The government introduced the legislation based on the grounds it needed to protect the general public from the harm associated with the disruption of government service caused by the strike.
The legislature went a step further by making a Notwithstanding Declaration to protect the back-to-work law from any Charter scrutiny by the judiciary.
The courts later ruled, however, in the case Alberta Labour Reference, that the Charter did not include the right to strike.
As a result of the court decision in that case, the Notwithstanding Declaration by the Saskatchewan government turned out to be unnecessary.