Politics
EXCLUSIVE POLL - Most Ontarians against Catholic school funding

St. Pius X Catholic High School

Credits: QMI

ANTONELLA ARTUSO | QMI AGENCY

TORONTO -- The number of Ontarians opposed to public funding of Catholic schools has grown to 54%, according to a new Forum Research poll.

A survey of 1,053 people found support for the separate school system at 39%, the lowest in a year's worth of polling.

Another 7% of respondents indicated they had no opinion on the issue.

Forum Research Inc. president Lorne Bozinoff said four polls have consistently shown that most Ontarians do not support public funding of a Catholic education system.

"These polls are surprising because it's such an entrenched policy but it is contrary to the majority views," Bozinoff said Thursday.

City of Toronto and southwestern Ontario residents showed the most opposition to Catholic school funding, while support was strongest in northern Ontario and Toronto's 905 suburbs.

Ontarians who identified themselves as New Democrat supporters were much more likely to object to the funding, followed by Liberal backers.

Tory supporters were evenly split on the issue.

Bozinoff said the findings raise questions about why all political parties continue to support public funding of Catholic schools.

"We have this policy that the majority disagree with it, so why do we have it?" Bozinoff said. "Why do we have public funding if their supporters are strongly against it?"

Forum Research also looked at the issue of whether students in the Catholic system should be allowed to opt out of religious training or classes.

Just over half -- 51% -- believed students should be required to attend.

Another 37% would allow children to skip the religious instruction, while 12% were uncertain.

Bozinoff said he polled Ontarians on this issue because of recent publicized battles by some parents to remove their children from religion classes.

Their position was not supported by the majority of those polled.

"Catholic schools are Catholic schools," Bozinoff said.

"They can make it mandatory to attend these classes."

Women were the most likely to insist that students take religious programming.

Residents of the City of Toronto were most likely to let them cut that class.

The polling results on the total sample are considered accurate by a margin of plus or minus 3%, while sub-sample results have a larger margin of error.

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