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End funding of independent schools - BC finance committee brief

Calling the funding contrary to the province's duty of religious neutrality, the BC Humanist Association today called on the province's finance committee to phase out the public funding of private schools in the next provincial budget.

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The elimination of smallpox showed how humans can work together to solve deadly global problems

By Steven M Opal, Brown University and J.M. Opal, McGill University

If you were to watch a split-screen broadcast with global weather on one side and world politics on the other, you could easily conclude that we are doomed.

Prodigious storms and killer heat waves announce the arrival of human-induced climate change, with more disasters to come as the planet warms and ecosystems collapse.

But right-wing populism is rising faster than the oceans, sinking efforts to combat this and other global crises. Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump keeps tweeting that climate change is fake news. Very bad!

And yet we humans have also shown that we can overcome even our most daunting problems. Exhibit A is our victory over smallpox, perhaps the most feared pathogen of all time.

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Estimating the scale of the elite private school giveaway

Every year the BC government provides hundreds of millions of dollars in public funding to private schools, including elite prep schools. Given that BC’s public education system has been severely underfunded for most of the past two decades—and is still failing to adequately support students with special needs—this use of public resources is hard to fathom. BC should eliminate the flow of taxpayer dollars to elite private schools, and redirect the funding to support special needs students.

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Humanists submit comments on draft political activities proposals

The BC Humanist Association today said proposals in a draft charities reform bill "fall far short of the mark" by failing to implement a modernized charities framework.

The BCHA welcomes the Government's move to delete references to nonpartisan political activities, thereby ending the gag on charities participating in development of public policy. However, the proposed bill offers little else to celebrate.

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SOGI and property tax exemptions

A group of 200 pastors lined up to denounce the province's sexual orientation and gender identity curriculum (SOGI 123).

The curriculum was developed under the previous provincial government and continues to be supported by the current government, the teachers' union, principals' associations, independent and First Nations schools associations.

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September 24, 2018 Newsletter

How you can help end the funding of faith schools in BC

We've just published examples of independent schools in BC that are teaching creationism in science classrooms. These are schools that together receive tens of millions of dollars from the provincial government.

But right now we have an opportunity to push back on this funding.

The BC Legislature's Finance Committee is currently holding public hearings across the province on the 2019 budget. Anyone is welcome to sign up for one of these hearings and speak for five minutes.

A number of these meetings are already full but if you live in Cranbrook, Trail, Nelson, Kamloops or Kelowna, you can sign up to speak this week.

REGISTER TO SPEAK

Let us know if you will be speaking and we'll help you prepare some speaking notes.

Otherwise, you can make a written, audio or video submission and you can complete the committee's survey online. This is a great chance to encourage the committee to put nearly half a billion dollars back in the public education system.

We'll be releasing our own submission to the committee soon.

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BC subsidizes the teaching of creationism in science class

Spend a bit of time looking through the websites of some of BC's independent schools and it's easy to find schools that proudly teach Biblical creationism alongside evolution in science classrooms.

Independent schools that receive public money are required to teach the BC curriculum, which includes the scientific reality of evolution in Grade 7 Science and Life Science 11. However, as we've shown most independent school funding goes to faith schools

The following schools seem to arguably undermine that curriculum by "teaching the controversy," a creationist strategy intended to undermine evolutionary science in American high schools.

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Permissive tax exemptions in Summerland

We've looked at how a few different communities treat religious property tax exemptions in BC and in most of those cases the policies have been long-established. In Summerland earlier this month, its council decided to change its policy.

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Government releases draft bill to lift restrictions on charities

The BC Humanist Association is welcoming proposed legislation to repeal restrictions on the political activities of charities in Canada but we are disappointed that the proposals don't go farther.

Under existing rules, Canadian charities must not spend more than 10% of its resources on "political activities." This includes activities intended to influence legislation or government policy. Charities are forbidden from partisan activities, which includes endorsing or opposing specific candidates or parties.

The federal government quietly released proposed changes to these rules on Friday evening. The proposals would remove references to political activities from the Income Tax Act. This follows recommendations from the Report of the Consultation Panel on the Political Activities of Charities released earlier this year and the Canada Without Poverty v AG ruling. That ruling found the current restrictions to be unconstitutional; however, the government is appealing.

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Toward a modernized charity framework for Canada

The BC Humanist Association today called on the Special Senate Committee on the Charitable Sector to support new legislation defining what a charity is and for that legislation to create equality between religious and nonreligious worldviews in Canadian charity law.

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