Catholic board set to sue ministry of education

By  Michael Swan, The Catholic Register
  • November 2, 2006
torontoTORONTO - The Toronto Catholic District School Board is asking a judge to solve half its $34- million deficit problem.

The school board is taking the Ontario minister of education to court, claiming the ministry owes it $18 million. At issue is a $55-million loan the province extended to the Toronto District School Board so it could balance its books in 2004. The province forgave the loan in 2005.

The Catholic board claims the Education Act prohibits the minister from making any grant to the public board without proffering a similar amount to the Catholic board operating in the same district. If a divisional court agrees with the Catholic board's interpretation of the Education Act, then the Catholic board's size relative to the public board translates into an $18-million pay day.

The Ministry of Education is keeping mum on the court action.

"There's currently discussions between the two of us that aren't public at this time," said Education Minister Kathleen Wynne's spokesperson Valerie Poulin. "I can't confirm anything at this time."

But Toronto Catholic District School Board chair Oliver Carroll claims no such talks are taking place and papers were to be filed in Ontario Divisional Court Nov. 9 or 10.

"If the only thing that's going to force people to the table is filing the papers, so be it, unfortunately," said Carroll.

Carroll would have rather seen the province own up to the debt and settle out of court.

"I don't think anybody ever wants to go to court. It's a very adversarial situation, and it's costly," he said.

Once it's in the hands of the courts, the board's lawyers would expect a decision by February or March 2007, said Carroll.

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