SPECIAL REPORT

a division of Home School Legal Defense Association
June 30, 1999

Home Schooling in Canada: Provincial Differences

by Christopher J. Klicka, Esq.

Home schooling is legal and steadily growing in Canada, but provincial requirements vary and there are still pockets of difficulties.

In Ontario and Quebec, school board officials routinely attempt to apply vague laws against home schoolers. Over 40 Ontario home school families are being challenged on the legitimacy of their home school programs and are facing “inquiries” by their school boards.HSLDA Canada senior counsel Dallas Miller (e-mail:HSLDA@memlane.com) is negotiating a solution with the provincial attendance counselor. Problems also continue in the Maritime provinces where school officials have discretionary approval over home schoolers.

Another problem for Canadian home schooling families is the increasing number of unfriendly contacts from social workers. Spanning the provinces and territories, home schoolers have been subjected to investigations based on anonymous tips or methods of discipline. In two HSLDA Canada cases where social services had prosecuted home schooling families, the courts found in favor of parental rights and family autonomy.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) drives much of the Canadian’s government’s infringement on family autonomy. However,HSLDA Canada is taking the lead in responding to the CRC’s negative effects on the nation’s law and social policy. Along with other pro-family groups,HSLDA Canada is involved in a court case in which they arguing against a radical child rights organization that is suing the Canadian government. The child rights organization claims that the federal criminal code allowing parents to use reasonable corporal punishment is unconstitutional and contrary to autonomous rights of children and the CRC. The case is set for trial in October of 1999. Also,HSLDA of Canada is working on a response to government and child rights groups’ reports to the UN Committee under the CRC. This will be the first pro-family message presented to this UN body.

In May, the new Association of Christian Home Educators of Quebec held a conference and curriculum fair in Montreal. Event organizers were particularly pleased with response from the French-speaking community. Quebec home schoolers were clearly thirsty for information and excited to have a province-wide Christian home school organization. And Quebec is organizing none too soon—their home school law is vague and they have just elected a new minister of education who may choose to implement a less favorable interpretation of the statute.