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TORONTO, November 28, 2003 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools is suing the new Ontario Liberal Government for canceling the education choice tax credit. The credit allowed parents who send their children to independent schools to direct at least a portion of their tax dollars towards their children’s education.  The association’s lawyer David Brown argued in court yesterday that stripping parents of the tax credit increased their overall tax rates, and that violates the Taxpayers Protection Act. The Act stipulates that unexpected tax hikes can only take place after voted on in a referendum.  Dalton McGuinty’a Liberal government plans to pass legislation rescinding the tax credit before Christmas, and to make it retroactive to Jan, 1, 2003. When fully implemented, the EETC would have offered Ontario parents a refundable tax credit for 50 percent of the first $7000 of a child’s independent school tuition.  Families of all incomes were able to use the Equity in Education Tax Credit. Because it is a refundable tax credit, its cancellation would have provided the greatest benefit for lower-income Ontario families. A large proportion of those families were only able to afford their choice of school because of the government support program.  Writing in the Financial Post Jack Mintz and William Robson, economists from the C.D. Howe Institute, explained the damage of retroactively rescinding the tax credit. “If that measure goes through, it will set an ominous precedent for Canadians everywhere.” The economists explain, “Retroactive taxation is unfair. It means that people discover, after they have already bought and sold, worked and saved, that government has changed the rules. Its arbitrariness undermines the rule of law.”  For Ontario residents who had children in independent schools last year, “Eliminating the credit for six of the 10 months of tuition in the 2002-03 academic year will impose higher taxes on parents related to decisions they made in the summer of 2002—a year and a half before the government announced the change. For the thousands of middle- and low-income Ontarians with kids in non-“elite” independent schools, this additional tax liability will be no small burden.”  Jewish and Muslim groups were also outraged at the government’s move to cancel the education tax credit.  Ed Morgan, chairperson of the Canadian Jewish Congress Ontario Region, spoke on behalf of the Ontario Association of Jewish Day Schools saying, “We always understood that the premier supported funding to faith-based schools. In fact, he voiced this support publicly to our executive only a few years ago. We hoped that the government would have offered another alternative to the tax credit. Now we non-Catholics in Ontario are, once again, the subjects of religious discrimination. This is not acceptable.”

Mohammad Ashraf, secretary general of the Islamic Society of North America Canada said, “Parents with children in independent schools made their financial decision on the basis of the tax credit applying for the full school year.  Our parents are mostly average middle-income earners who were counting heavily on this tax credit in their household budget. I am frankly surprised that the government acted with such mean spirit.”

Children First: School Choice Trust, a The Fraser Institute program begun with financial support from The W. Garfield Weston Foundation, is Canada’s first privately funded program to provide tuition assistance grants for independent elementary school tuition in Ontario.  “Many thousands of Ontario families are struggling to pay independent school expenses. Children First and the Equity in Education Tax Credit provided families with the financial assistance necessary to afford their school of choice,” says program director Virginia Gentles. “We are incredibly disappointed that the government has cancelled this vital tax credit.”  Children First: School Choice Trust, which is currently serving 150 children across the province, will continue to offer tuition assistance grants, so that parents who could not otherwise afford it can choose an independent elementary school for their children.  Children First: School Choice Trust is currently accepting applications for tuition assistance grants for the 2004-05 school year. Eligible families can apply for the grants online at www.childrenfirstgrants.ca , submit an application by mail, or apply over the phone.  See related coverage:  https://www.nationalpost.com/utilities/story.html?id=8AE96577-EC04-425E-9984-7E6EB36C2F92 https://www.yorkregion.com/yr/newscentre/erabanner/story/1525976p-1794669c.html https://www.nationalpost.com/financialpost/story.html?id=9AE43D0D-4641-4C60-957F-D3247415BE2E

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