A child sleeps in a tent April 4, 2017, at a shelter for people left homeless after mudslides in Mocoa, Colombia. Caritas Colombia is working with international and national agencies to assess needs and generate a plan for the thousands of families left homeless. CNS photo/Jaime Saldarriaga, Reuters

Halton Catholic School Board to support only Catholic charities

  • March 28, 2018

A new mandate from trustees of the Halton Catholic District School Board to allow its schools to give donations only to a specific list of charities that uphold Catholic values sets it apart from other nearby Catholic school boards.

In mid-March, Halton trustees removed 70 charities from a list of about 100 organizations that had previously been eligible to receive charitable funding from the region’s schools. After the reduced list was published on the board’s website, objections were raised from the Ministry of Education, parents and students. The list was taken down a short time later.

Education Minister Indira Naidoo-Harris said she was “concerned” to hear that the board had not consulted parents, students and community leaders regarding its decision to ban donations to such charities as the Hospital for Sick Children, United Way and the Canadian Cancer Society. 

In a statement last month to the Toronto Star, Halton trustee Helena Karabela, who introduced the motion, said its purpose was to make sure Catholic schools “are walking the talk,” to ensure that fundraising does not directly or indirectly flow to organizations that are not aligned with Catholic teaching on life and family issues. 

The HCDSB operates 55 elementary and secondary schools in Ontario across an area that includes Burlington, Oakville, Milton and Halton Hills. Those schools are now required to support the listed “charities and organizations that support activities that are in keeping with the mission of our Catholic school system.” 

Other boards operate under similar broad policies, but have not taken the additional step of requiring charities to pledge that the charity’s specific activities align with Catholic teaching. For instance, in neighbouring boards such as Toronto, Dufferin-Peel and Hamilton-Wentworth school fundraising is expected to support organizations that are aligned with Catholic tenets.

“Our policy does not outline the types of restrictions imposed by the Halton board, nor does Toronto Catholic generate a list of approved charities,” said John Yan, Senior Communications Coordinator for the Toronto Catholic District School Board. 

“We have no plans to change the policy. 

At TCDSB, fundraising decision and activities are left to the local parents, school councils and school communities.” 

On Dufferin-Peel’s website, a fundraising policy states that all initiatives must adhere to the moral teachings of the Catholic Church as communicated through the Archbishop of Toronto and should reflect the mission, values and principals of the board.

“Our board has a long standing practice of promoting Catholic charities first,” said Bruce Campbell, General Manager of Communications and Community Relations at the Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board.

“Donations are allowed to secular charities whose mandate upholds the teachings of the Church. If a school is uncertain about an organization, staff work with them to find a suitable one to support.”

The Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School board policy states that fundraising must reflect the teachings of the Catholic Church. Among charities it supports is the United Way, one of the charities no longer supported by the Halton Catholic board.

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