EXCLUSIVE: Catholic students allegedly offered incentives to attend anti-abortion protests
Premier Kathleen Wynne says she will look into an allegation that Catholic high school students are being offered incentives to attend anti-abortion protests.
In a NEWSTALK 1010 exclusive story, the father of a GTHA student says he is offended that his daughter's teacher allegedly solicited students to collect community service hours if they joined in on such an event.
He says the school was offering transportation, lunch, and as an extra incentive, inflated 3-for-1 hours.
"So for three hours of their time, they were going to get 10 hours of community service work," he tells NEWSTALK 1010.
"We have government money that is given to a school, and then that government money now is being channelled to protest against legal laws that we have," he says.
"It's a bit of a whirly wig for 15, 16-year-old children to get their head around."
High school students in Ontario need 40 hours of community students to graduate.
"I can't idly sit by, and let this kind of stuff happen," says Michael, who did not want his real name used. "It really caught us off guard."
Premier Wynne commented on the NEWSTALK 1010 story Friday morning.
"That is the first I've heard that," she says. "I will just say that that was never the intention of the 40 hours of volunteer work, and I will certainly follow up with the ministry."
Education minister Mitzie Hunter writes in a statement that school boards are responsible for developing a list of community involvement activities they consider acceptable.
"In this case, providing these credits for such use does not seem to be what these community involvement activities were designed for, and we're currently looking into the matter," Hunter writes.
Meanwhile, the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board says it became aware of this complaint two weeks ago. "We would not, nor would any of our principals, permit, under any circumstances, more than 1 for 1 hour of Christian service. If, in this situation, a teacher unintentionally conveyed otherwise than that's unfortunate, we regret it," says Trustee Pat Daly.
He says a full investigation was launched and concluded no wrongdoing. "A conversation between the principal and the teacher fully discussed everything involved, got all the facts, and then proceeded to report to the administration." Trustee Daly doesn't know if any students were spoken with to get their side of the claim.
Students can log Christian service hours by attending pro-life events. In this case, it was Life Chain on October 1st. "The Life Chain is a community gathering of individuals committed to promoting a culture of life. So, students, amongst others in the community; many adults and young people would be involved standing on the sidewalks and streets praying, in some cases, holding signs in support of life," he explains.