Catholic teacher hiring policy taken to rights tribunal

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  • September 25, 2009
{mosimage}Hiring only Catholic teachers at publicly funded Catholic schools is “unfair” and discriminatory, says a Guelph-area teacher who has recently taken the Wellington Catholic District School Board to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.

“It’s unfair for a large organization to accept large taxpayer dollars, including my own, and then not being interested in hiring everybody from whom those tax dollars come from,” Jesse Lloyd told The Catholic Register in an interview from Guelph.

“No other religion gets this benefit with tax dollars.”

Lloyd, 36, had been working on contract as a teacher at Hamilton and Guelph public schools since graduating from teacher’s college in 2006.

According to Lloyd, public Catholic boards receive about 30 per cent of their operating funds from taxpayers who direct their tax dollars to these boards, with the other 70 per cent coming from other taxpayers.

He said during his online job searches at Catholic boards, he finds being asked if he is a Catholic to be a “discriminatory question.”

Lloyd added that although he isn’t optimistic about winning the case, he said it’s important to bring attention to the larger issue.

“The discrimination is fairly well entrenched in the (Charter of Rights and Freedoms),” he said, referring to the denominational rights extended to Catholics.

Michael McPhee of the Wellington Catholic board says the board has a constitutional basis for its Catholic-only hiring policy. McPhee, consulting executive manager of human resources, said the board is exercising its “right and privilege” under section 93.1 of Canada’s Constitution which says “nothing in the law shall prejudicially affect any right or privilege with respect to denominational schools.”

According to McPhee, only Catholic teachers are hired at the board, although there may be a few non-Catholic teachers at the board who were hired in the past because of a lack of teachers in a subject area.

He said the board expects a decision within a month.

Meanwhile, Joanne McGarry, executive director of the Catholic Civil Rights League , said the board’s policy is based upon Catholic school boards’ historical and legal rights.

Past legal decisions and current laws “are pretty clear on this point,” she said, referring to sections 19 and 24 of the Ontario Human Rights Code which protect the rights and privileges of separate school boards and the preferential hiring for religions organizations as a legitimate condition of employment.

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