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Budget 2021: A Just and Secular Recovery

The BC Humanist Association has today asked the BC Legislature's Finance Committee to use Budget 2021 to prioritize a Just and Secular Recovery in British Columbia.

In its brief, the organization urges the committee to frame its response in terms of the humanist values of social justice, science and secularism. It further identifies two ways the budget can be used to end the privileging of religious views in the province.

  1. End the statutory exemptions for places of worship
  2. Phase out public funding of independent schools

The committee is accepting feedback from British Columbians until 5:00 PM on Friday, June 26 about what priorities should inform the provincial budget.

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Pass or Fail?

Comparing the performance of private and public school graduates in post-secondary education

Executive Summary

Proponents of British Columbia’s (BC) private education funding model have claimed that private schools provide students with an academic advantage over their public school peers. By comparing the performance of graduates of BC private and public schools at the University of British Columbia (UBC), we can test this thesis. Our results show no significant difference in the four-year retention rates or fourth year sessional average between the students. Students from private schools were more likely to graduate UBC within four years, though fewer than one-in-three of all students still completed their degree in that timespan. This result can be explained by the greater availability of university credit courses in private schools and differences in socioeconomic status between private and public school families. There was no significant difference between graduates of elite and non-elite private schools. Similarly, graduates of secular and faith-based private schools were largely identical, with the possible exception that graduates of smaller secular schools tended to have lower four-year retention and graduation rates.

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Christian takeover at Delta Hospice

The BC Humanist Association has heard complaints from Delta residents, echoed by reporting for CBC News, of efforts by the Board of Directors of the Delta Hospice Society to convert the organization into a Christian anti-choice body.

Applicants who wish to join the Society are saying they've been denied and new bylaws are being put to a mail-in vote that would ban medical assistance in dying in the hospice.

In February, the BCHA cheered the Minister of Health's decision to pull the Hospice's funding for refusing to provide MAID and urged the Government to end a loophole for faith-based organizations.

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A Just Recovery is a Humanist Recovery

The BC Humanist Association is joining over 150 Canadian organizations in the launch today of six principles for a Just Recovery for All. The BCHA has also signed onto the Vancouver Just Recovery's joint statement.

The movements for a just recovery are calling on governments to ensure that recovery efforts support the transition to a more equitable, sustainable and diversified economy, and not entrench outdated economic and social systems that jeopardize the health and wellbeing of people, worsen the climate crisis, or perpetuate the exploitation or oppression of people.

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Decolonizing Legislative Prayers

Building off the comprehensive House of Prayers report, the BC Humanist Association is releasing Decolonizing Legislative Prayers.

This new supplementary report investigates the use of Indigenous content - words, phrases and concepts - in the prayers said by BC MLAs during the daily prayers in the Legislature between 2003 and 2019.

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Humanists join call to decriminalize simple drug possession immediately

The BC Humanist Association is joining over 50 human rights, health and drug policy organizations in calling on key ministers in the federal government to immediately decriminalize the possession of illicit drugs in response to the twin crises of opioid overdoses and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The letter was started by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Pivot Legal Society and the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition was sent to the federal Ministers of Health, Justice and Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. It points out that they have the authority to issue an "exemption" to "any class of persons" from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, in the public interest. This can be used to exempt everyone in Canada from the section of the law that makes simple possession of drugs a crime.

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Reduction in funding for online private schools a step in the right direction

The BC Humanist Association is applauding a step by the Ministry of Education to reduce public support for online private schooling.

The Government of BC funds in-person private schools up to 50% of the per-student amount of neighbouring public schools; however, online distributed learning (DL) programs run by private schools were funded at up to 63% of the rate of public DL programs. In person elite private schools receive 35% funding and the equivalent DL programs received 44.1%.

Under the changes announced earlier this month, privately operated DL programs will now only receive 50% or 35% of what a public DL program receives. Further, new private DL programs will only be funded at the 35% level for their first year.

The change reverts the private DL funding model to what it was prior to the 2012/13 school year.

Unlike homeschooling, students participating in DL are connected with certified teachers online. The majority of private DL programs are religious.

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Humanists welcome bill to ban conversion therapy

Humanists are welcoming the introduction of a bill to ban conversion therapy in Canada.

Conversion therapy is a discredited and harmful practice to try to change one's sexual orientation or gender identity. It is largely based on pseudoscientific views of sexuality and gender.

The bill, if passed, will make it a crime to subject minors to conversion therapy, to take a minor abroad for conversion therapy, to force someone into conversion therapy without consent, to profit off conversion therapy or to advertise conversion therapy.

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Sample Prayers make Clerk "the arbiter of religious dogma"

The BC Humanist Association is calling on the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia to scrap a planned update to the so-called "sample prayers."

Each day of sitting in the Legislature begins with prayers said by a different MLA. Following pressure from the BCHA, the practice that was updated to include secular "reflections" at the end of 2019.

The Office of the Clerk has provided MLAs with a set of five sample prayers that they could select from. MLAs are also free to write their own prayer (or reflection). In House of Prayers, the BCHA found that half of all prayers said in the Legislature were sample prayers.

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Don't stop with Delta hospice

Following the announcement that the province will cut $1.5 million in funding to the Delta Hospice Society for refusing to provide medical assistance in dying (MAID), the BC Humanist Association is urging the province to apply the same standards to all publicly-funded healthcare facilities in the province.

As reported by Rob Shaw in the Vancouver Sun, the Delta Hospice Society's board was taken over by groups opposed to MAID following a membership drive. The Society, which operates Irene Thomas Hospice, violated a provincial policy that requires healthcare facilities that receive at least half of their funding from the province to provide MAID. Religious facilities, such as Providence Healthcare, are exempt from the policy and merely have to provide a referral to another facility.

In an opinion piece in the Vancouver Sun over the weekend, Health Minister Adrian Dix defended the move as putting "patients first" but reiterated that publicly-funded faith-based facilities can operate according to a different set of rules.

The BC Humanist Association (BCHA), who work toward a secular society and support assisted dying "for all who choose it", is renewing its call for the province to end the exemption for faith-based facilities.

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