Clearing up confusion: who pays for private schools



September 16, 2014

“Taxpayers subsidize private schools” – I can imagine if you were to tell this to someone in our Reformed community, especially in provinces where a school receives zero funding (such as Ontario or Atlantic Canada), you would likely be met with a blank stare and probably stand corrected. However, many taxpayers, especially it would seem those who do not send their children to independent schools, believe this myth and we would do well to debunk it. Thankfully the folks at the Fraser Institute have done their research and have submitted the following article to the Vancouver Sun:

By Mark Milke

“The construction of narratives,” the late Neil Postman wrote, “is a major business of our species.” The New York cultural critic, writing in a 2000 book, mused about how difficult it was to move people from myths to facts.

Skip ahead to the 21st century, and a myth that needs an empirical reality check: Taxpayers subsidize private schools.

This tale is told by many, often those wedded to a one-size-fits-all approach to education. For example, the British Columbia Teachers Federation claims the province is “subsidizing private schools with public funds.” In Ontario, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation bellows that “there should be no provincial government subsidies” for private schools.”

The subsidy claim is bunk. Just because a government cuts a cheque, that doesn’t mean someone or some entity is subsidized. By that impossibly loose definition, everything done by a government counts as a subsidy.

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