• Laura Thibert

Saskatchewan case has no impact on Alberta religion classes

Recently there has been significant misinformation circulating regarding the ability of students to opt out of religion classes because of a recent settlement before the Ontario Human Rights Commission that I wish to clarify.

This was a settlement, not a decision of the courts; It does not change the law in Ontario and has no impact on Alberta.

There are distinct and important differences with respect to religion courses being mandatory in Catholic schools in Alberta and Catholic schools in Ontario.

In Alberta, parents of students attending Catholic high schools agree at the time of registration that their child will take religion classes. Catholic boards in Ontario mandate religion for all four years of high school.

There are legislative exemptions that exist in Ontario that allow a resident pupil of a public board who is attending a Catholic school to opt out of religion courses, but there are certain criteria that must be met.

The settlement does not alter the fact that the exemption must still be requested and still only applies to some students (generally non-Catholics).