Defenders of the Catholic separate school system got good news:  The Supreme Court of Canada has dismissed an appeal against the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal’s overturning of the Theodore ruling.

If that sentence was a bit mystifying, here’s the gist of what that means. In 2017, the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench held that Section 17 of the Saskatchewan Act, which protects Catholic separate schools (which receive full funding from the government alongside the secular “public” system), was only ever intended to guarantee a Catholic education for Catholic students. The government funding non-Catholic students in Catholic schools therefore went against the purpose of Section 17 and was unconstitutional.

Had this ruling been allowed to stand, all non-Catholic students at Catholic schools in Saskatchewan would have had to pay for their enrolment out of pocket. Obviously, this would likely have led to a mass exodus out of Catholic schools, potentially leaving the separate school system decimated and even in danger of closing altogether. And, since this would have implications for how the constitution is interpreted, this could easily have become a precedent that Alberta and Ontario, which also have separate Catholic schools, would have had to follow. The survival of Catholic separate schools across Canada would be jeopardized.

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