MONTREAL, QC June 1, 2011 – The Catholic Civil Rights League today expressed its support for a group of parents challenging new guidelines keeping religious content out of the province’s subsidized daycare facilities. The parents are asking Quebec Superior Court to declare the new guidelines unconstitutional, stating that the policy infringes on their religious freedom.
Scheduled to take effect today, the policy puts into nursery inspectors’ hands the onus of determining which activities or symbols are sectarian and therefore taboo, and which ones are “cultural” and can be permitted.
Daycares that have been dispensing religious instruction must phase it out and if they do not comply they could have their government subsidy “suspended, reduced or cancelled.” Estimates are that only about one in 20 of the province’s subsidized daycares are religious.
“Parents who want some religious content in daycare or nursery school pay the taxes that make Quebec’s childcare subsidy possible,” noted Joanne McGarry, League executive director. “To us, this is yet another attempt by the provincial government to remove religion at all levels of public life. Requiring parents who want religious content to pay private rates puts them at a significant disadvantage.”
Jean Morse-Chevrier, Quebec director of the Catholic Civil Rights League and chairperson of the Association of Catholic Parents of Quebec (APCQ) and, says the ban on religion in daycare is similar to the imposition of the mandatory ethics and religious culture (ECR) course. “In effect, in the name of respect for diversity, the government is abolishing true diversity more and more in educational programs,” according to Mrs. Morse-Chevrier. “Quebec is leaning toward suppression and discrimination against believers of any religion,” she said. The APCQ is supporting the parents in this court challenge.
Parents pay substantially to opt for religious content at the pre-school level, she added. “There is not only the cost of unsubsidized care for their children, but also the cost of any protest. Quebec parents already have a similar situation in schools, where only private institutions are able to offer denominational instruction in addition to the ECR course.”
The right to be exempt from the ECR course is currently the subject of a Supreme Court of Canada challenge in which the League is participating as an intervenor.
Parents attack “Godless” daycare, National Post, June 1, 2011
Quebec’s purge of religion reaches the youngest levels, Catholic Register, January 12, 2011