The Ontario Progressive Conservative plan to increase funding in education, including a budget for additional publicly funded faith-based schools represents a net increase in public education funding.
Here's my quick and dirty math I used.
The assumptions I used:
- Total enrollment in Ontario schools is 2.2 million; 650,000 are enrolled in Catholic schools.
- The budgeted spend on public education is $17.2 billion.
- The Liberals are proposing an additional $963 million in education spending.
- The Progressive Conservatives are proposing an additional $2.44 billion in education spending. This includes the commitment for the $963 million proposed by the Liberals and the $400 million budgeted for additional faith based public school funding.
- The expected maximum influx of new public education students will be 53,000.
Now, for the math.
Under the Liberal plan, using the budgeted $17.2 billion and the proposed increase of $983 million - that brings the total investment into education to $18.1 billion. Simple proportioning means that $12.6 billion will be spent on non-Catholic public education, and the remaining $5.6 billion into Catholic education.
Using the Progressive Conservative spending increase, a total of $19.6B will be spent on public education ($17.2B + $2.44B). Using the same quick proportioning, the Catholic school system would receive $5.9B, the non-Catholic school system would receive $13.3B, and the 53,000 new students in the public system would receive $479 million (which falls within the $400 estimated by the PC's and within the $500 million estimated by the Liberals - so the quick and dirty math kind of works).
The conclusion, however, from all this math is that under the Liberals, non-religious public education spending will increase by only 5.6% (from $11.9B to $12.6B), whereas under the PC's, non-religion public education will increase by 11.4% (from $11.9B to $13.3B).
Under the PC plan, the government commits more to non-religious public education than the current Liberal plan does.
Now, you may argue the math is too quick - it still illustrates a point, however. All of the arguments against extending funding has been predicated on the mistaken belief that the additional $400-$500 million would come from the existing public education budget.
That is simply not true.
Additionally, arguing that that $400-$500 million should "stay" in public education is also misleading, because that $400-500 million isn't even there unless you elect a PC government.
As a post script, I'm still not supportive of funding public faith-based schools. My preference is to have one public school system. As I've also said in the same piece, there is not a government in Ontario that is going to stop funding Roman Catholic separate schools. The reality is there is simply no option to eliminate faith-based education in Ontario.