Saskatchewan’s New Democrats are demanding the government assures private schools adhere to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code. Speaking outside the Saskatoon Cabinet Office, Opposition Leader Carla Beck and Education Critic Matt Love called for the government to provide evidence as to whether the independent schools named in a civil suit regarding allegations of abuse were in violation of the Code.
According to a release by the NDP, Education Minister Dustin Duncan responded, stating, “I can’t really comment on that. I think in all educational situations there’s, I think, that balance between – particularly in schools that may have a faith-based component to them – a kind of balancing off those rights. People have a right to an education. People have a right to religion and religious expression in the province. But I can’t say for sure and I don’t know of any cases that have been forwarded to the human rights commission based on this situation.”
Love continued to express concern about the apparent lack of effort or any repercussions in the government’s response to multiple reports of abuse.
“We should all agree that kids should attend school free of any fear of discrimination or violence,” said Love. “What Minister Duncan said yesterday is frankly shocking. There is no balancing act that compromises student safety for religious freedoms. The Minister needs to explain what human rights are worth compromising in the classroom.”
“We now know the Sask. Party government has been made aware of abuse in these schools for years,” said Beck. “What kind of government ignores allegations of children being harmed? It's clear that Scott Moe and his ministers won’t do the right thing without a proper public shaming.”
The Opposition called for measures to ensure that all publicly funded schools adhere to the terms set out by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.