Saturday, October 18, 2003

A letter to our Member of Provincial Parliament about the revocation of the Equity in Education Tax Credit for those who send their children to Christian Schools. (With thanks to the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools.)

Mr. Ted McMeekin, MPP

Dear Sir,

Congratulations on retaining your seat in the legislature. May God grant you wisdom in your task as MPP for our riding.

This letter is to raise two promises made by Mr. McGuinty. He promised, "No more politics of division." Mr. McGuinty also promised, "No one will pay more taxes next year than they are at present." As parent-supporters of Timothy Christian School and Guido de Bres Christian School, both in Hamilton, I cannot reconcile either the promise of an inclusive Ontario, or the promise not to raise taxes, with your party's threat to repeal the Equity in Education Tax Credit (EETC).

By revoking the EETC your government will single out my family as second-class citizens and take away a legal right we have had since 2001. That's not only division, that's discrimination of the type denounced by the United Nations in its 1999 ruling against Ontario's practice of funding one religious school but not others. A further destructive element of taking away the refundable tax credit is that it hurts low and middle income earners most—hardly the support for hard-working families that was featured in the campaign.

Secondly, revoking the tax credit will, in fact, mean that our family and others like us will pay more taxes next year. Again, there is no doubt this will harm the low and middle-income families who make up the bulk of those who choose a faith-based education for their children.

You must know that most Ontarians who send their children to schools other than public or Roman Catholic are not wealthy people. A few of the private schools are elitist, but most have been established because of the religious convictions of everyday hard-working citizens, be they Christian, Jewish or Muslim. The argument that the EETC only helps the rich get richer is an unworthy argument. Taking it away makes struggling families poorer. If the concern is about giving the tax credit to wealthy Ontarians who send their children to elitist schools, please take a look at how this is handled in British Columbia where support to independent schools is at either 50% or 35%, depending upon the school's cost for educating a child. It is time to think outside the box to circumvent the politics of division proposed by your party.

As our representative in government, we expect you to express our concerns when the matter of repealing the tax credit is raised in the legislature and to vote against any legislation that would take it away. Show us that you indeed have stopped the politics of division and that you really do support the hard-working families of your riding. We would appreciate hearing your personal response to these concerns. Given the apparently short timelines, we anticipate a speedy reply.

Sincerely Yours,

George van Popta
46 Sulphur Springs Road
Ancaster, Ontario
L9G 1L8

cc: Mr. D. McGuinty, Premier-elect