CCRF to Toronto Board of Ed: Nix Your Anti-Religious Rental Fees

TORONTO – The Canadian Council for Religious Freedom is demanding the Toronto District School Board end its new rental rates scale that targets religious group rentals for closure.

Recent media coverage disclosed the Board’s plans to hike rental rates for faith groups up to 800%. Other non-profit groups will not be affected.

In its recently published “Category of Permit Users”, the TDSB created three categories for school rentals, including registered charities such as Scouts Canada, other registered charities, and faith based organizations conducting religious services.

In a letter to TDSB Director Chris Spence, CCRF Chair Father Geoffrey Korz stated, “The CCRF refuses to accept the “three-tier” system for classifying registered charities that the TDSB has created for the purposes of providing facility permits,”

The CCRF noted in its letter to Spence that most faith based organizations are not simply “registered non-profit bodies”, but are in fact registered charities.

New Policy Contrary to Law, Equity

The CCRF Chair’s letter further stated that the Toronto Board’s rental discrimination is not only contrary to the TDSB’s own policies, but very likely contrary to law.

The letter cited Sections 1 and 3 of the Ontario Human Rights Code, which guarantee protection of groups and individuals based on religious creed.

Father Korz concluded that, “The CCRF will not accept the utilization of budget shortfalls at the TDSB as an opportunity to implement discrimination against religious charities.  The principles of equity and fairness, which the TDSB espouses, should preclude such a purge of faith based organizations from school facilities,”

The Council said it is awaiting a response from the TDSB Director.

Read the original letter here.