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Toronto School Board allegedly rejecting children of non immigration-status parents

By Michael Niren July 16, 2010 2 min. read

Only 14 per cent of schools accept children of non immigration-status parents

Social Planning Toronto, an organization dedicated to improving quality of life through social planning in the city, recently went undercover to see if Toronto-area Catholic schools will accept children of non-status immigrant parents.

Researchers pretended to be family members of non-status children living in Canada and looking for new schools, and began calling all of the board’s high schools and elementary schools between January and June.

Only 14 per cent of Toronto-area Catholic schools will accept children with no immigration status, or children of non-status immigrants. However, Ontario Law says that it is illegal to refuse a child based on their immigration status under the Ontario Education Act.

Even still, some of the answers from the school board according to the report included, “No school in Ontario will be able to accept him”, “He should require the necessary documents…it’s the law” and “He has to have [status], no school will admit him. That’s the policy of the country, he has to go back,” when asked if an imaginary non-status student could enroll.

Toronto has over 200 Catholic schools in the immediate area, only 31 of which said during the study that they would accept students without status. More than half of these schools that would accept non-status students still require certain immigration documents to register children at their schools, including passports, visas or landing papers.

A smaller portion outright denied access to education for these students, just under 30 per cent. More interestingly, over half of the schools said they had no idea whether or not students with no status could enroll in their schools.

At our office we are approached by many parents without immigration status in Canada who have children facing challenges in enrolling at school. If appropriate we suggest that the family apply for Canadian permanent residence under the Humanitarian and Compassionate category. While this application is pending, we often will write a letter to the school advising that the family’s application is in process. This sometimes goes a long with the school administrators.

What are the options for children of non immigration-status parents

However, we always advise that students without legal status in Canada are not permitted to study in Canada without a study permit. So the best solution is to apply for a study permit for these children. Easier said than done especially in cases where they have living in Canada many years without status.

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