“The Minister needs to explain what human rights he believes aren’t worth protecting,” said Love.
SASKATOON - Standing outside the Saskatoon Cabinet Office, Official Opposition Leader Carla Beck and Education Critic Matt Love called on the Sask. Party government to require publicly-funded schools to abide by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.
When asked by journalists if the qualified independent schools named in the civil suit have been violating the Saskatchewan human rights protections of students, Education Minister Dustin Duncan stated:
“I don’t know if…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 – of 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.”
The minister was responding to the launch of the Children and Youth Advocate’s investigation into registered independent schools. Reports this week confirmed multiple teachers flagged accounts of abuse against students to the Ministry in 2016 and 2018. Despite the serious nature of the allegations, these allegations were forwarded to authorities with no repercussions for the schools or significant changes to address safety concerns - until it was made public by the students in August 2022.
“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 Official Opposition is calling for adherence to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code for all publicly-funded schools.