Tuesday 18 January 1994

Annual report, Provincial Auditor, 1993: Ministry of Education and Training


*Chair / Président: Cordiano, Joseph (Lawrence L)

*Acting Chairs / Président suppléants:

Callahan, Robert V. (Brampton South/-Sud L)

Murphy, Tim (St George-St David L)

*Vice-Chair / Vice-Présidente: Poole, Dianne (Eglinton L)

Bisson, Gilles (Cochrane South/-Sud ND)

*Duignan, Noel (Halton North/-Nord ND)

*Frankford, Robert (Scarborough East/-Est ND)

Marland, Margaret (Mississauga South/-Sud PC)

O'Connor, Larry (Durham-York ND)

Owens, Stephen (Scarborough Centre ND)

*Perruzza, Anthony (Downsview ND)

Tilson, David (Dufferin-Peel PC)

*In attendance / présents

Substitutions present/ Membres remplaçants présents:

Akande, Zanana L. (St Andrew-St Patrick ND) for Mr O'Connor

Cunningham, Dianne (London North/-Nord PC) for Mrs Marland

Haeck, Christel (St Catharines-Brock ND) for Mr Owens

Malkowski, Gary (York East/-Est ND) for Mr Bisson

Rizzo, Tony (Oakwood ND) for Mr Duignan

Villeneuve, Noble (S-D-G & East Grenville/S-D-G & Grenville-Est PC) for Mr Tilson

Also taking part / Autres participants et participantes:

Ministry of Education and Training:

Pascal, Dr Charles, deputy minister

Ferren, Peter, program/policy support team, special education policy unit

Doris, Jim, project leader, education finance reform, strategic funding team

Carrier-Fraser, Mariette, assistant deputy minister, elementary, secondary, postsecondary operations

and French-language education

Mason, Ron, education officer, central Ontario region

Lamontagne, Maurice, education officer, program policy support team, special education policy unit

Peall, Gary, director, ministry and agency audit branches, Office of the Provincial Auditor

Peters, Erik, Provincial Auditor

Clerk / Greffier: Decker, Todd

Staff / Personnel: Anderson, Anne, research officer, Legislative Research Service

The committee met at 1009 in room 151.


The Chair (Mr Joseph Cordiano): Members of the public accounts committee, come to order. On this morning's agenda we have Dr Pascal and his colleagues. Dr Pascal, you have an opening statement which is approximately 20 minutes. We'll proceed from that to questions and open it up to the committee. Mr Duignan, you have a point or a question?

Mr Noel Duignan (Halton North): A question, Mr Chairman. In our brief closed session briefing yesterday, most of us in this committee room expressed great concern around the whole question of special education and related matters around compensatory education grants etc. This may be an area we want to take a further in-depth look at later during the session and possibly into the summer. My question to the auditor is, if this committee felt it were necessary, could you do a value-for-money audit into the whole question of special education and those related matters brought up in the auditor's report? Would that be of any use to get at some of those questions that need to be answered?

The Chair: It would be a request under section 17.

Mr Erik Peters: That's right, and before that decision is made, I would recommend that we possibly go over the criteria used in the examination that's before you, essentially to raise the question of what that special audit would add over and above what we have done.

Mr Duignan: But it is possible, if we set the groundwork, to do that?

Mr Peters: It's certainly possible.

Mr Duignan: In my particular view, and I think a number of us on this side, we have a great concern with the whole question of special education and related matters such as the compensatory education grants and the grants for education programs in care, treatment and correction facilities. There are some questions that need to be answered. But it's possible to be done?

Mr Peters: That's right. The one difficulty that of course we're facing in this particular situation is that our audit domain principally is the ministry. The examination of the school boards themselves and activities that are carried out in the classroom would really require special authority in terms of how far we can go in that kind of audit examination.

Mr Duignan: So you'll be able to check it out for us?

Mr Peters: Yes, we'll check it out.

Mr Duignan: Thank you.

The Chair: If there are no other points of order or questions, we'll allow Dr Pascal to make his opening remarks. Please proceed.

Dr Charles Pascal: Thank you very much, Mr Chair. I'm very pleased to be here with my colleagues to pursue the issues arising from the Provincial Auditor's report. I understand that the focus of the dialogue today and in later sessions will be the auditor's reports on curriculum development and special education.

The ministry very much appreciates the opportunity to address the issues in these opening remarks. I look forward to responding over the next three days, with the assistance of my colleagues, to the committee's questions and comments about some very difficult issues.

With me here today are two of the ministry's assistant deputy ministers, Jill Hutcheon, who is our ADM for policy priorities and curriculum development, and Mariette Carrier-Fraser, of the elementary, secondary and post-secondary operations and French-language education division, and there other team leaders in various areas who will be introduced to you over the course of the next couple of days as part of our discussions.

Throughout the audit process, the ministry has found the experience of working with Mr Peters and his colleagues to be very, very positive, constructive and indeed very productive. The ministry sees these sessions with this committee as an opportunity to speak to the auditor's recommendations in very specific and concrete terms, to indicate what the ministry and the education system have done and are doing in both the short and long term to address these recommendations, but also, quite frankly, to speak clearly and to the point about what hasn't been done, what needs to be done more effectively or hasn't been done at all and what needs to happen as a result; to outline where the ministry has authority in terms of current statutory and regulatory powers and where we need to take action; where in less formal ways than statute or regulation the ministry can and should influence or direct the education system more effectively; and to describe some of the barriers that still stand in the way of resolving a number of key issues.

First, however, I'd like to outline for the committee the ministry's overall perspective on the issues the auditor has raised. After serving for about 11 months as deputy minister of the new Ministry of Education and Training, I have no hesitation in saying that the Provincial Auditor is right: that there are real and significant issues of accountability and equity in the education system and that these issues need to be addressed to ensure that the public's substantial investment in education results in the delivery of the highest possible quality of education.

Elementary and secondary education is a shared responsibility between the ministry, which, as you know, sets provincial policies, and school boards, which are responsible for implementing these policies to reflect the needs and wishes of their constituents. The roles and responsibilities are outlined in statute and reflected in the way elementary and secondary education is funded.

Indeed, the way in which we currently fund our elementary and secondary education system also presents issues of accountability and equity, as the auditor has noted. In the current fiscal year, Ontario taxpayers will invest some $14 billion in elementary and secondary education. Of that total, the province will provide a share of approximately $6.4 billion.

Two major problems with the current funding system are, first, that it does not make clear who is responsible for which spending decisions; that is, there is a basic issue of accountability transparency or a lack thereof. Second, the system has led to disparity in the level of resources that school boards have for the education of their pupils, so there's also a basic issue of equity.

Through its education finance reform project, the ministry has undertaken, in concert with stakeholders from the system, to develop a new funding model for education that hopefully will address these issues. Our goal is to present to the government a funding system that will clarify accountability and move towards greater equity in the resourcing of school boards.

The auditor's report has highlighted similar needs for Ontario's elementary and secondary education community to review traditional definitions of roles and responsibilities in other areas. It is a subject that we need to address as partners working on the basis of our shared commitment to learning and recognizing the changes necessary to meet that commitment.

The importance of this issue of roles and responsibilities in the delivery of education is shown by the minister's decision to make the issue of governance a major responsibility of the mandate of the Royal Commission on Learning. The auditor's report recognizes that many of its recommendations touch on issues within the commission's mandate. A key challenge for us in developing the ministry's response to the recommendations has been to strike an appropriate balance between taking effective action on these issues in the short run, while not preempting the work of the commission in the medium- and longer-range run.

Overall, then, the Ministry of Education and Training sees the auditor's recommendations as extremely valuable suggestions and leads for strengthening the ministry's agenda for greater accountability and equity in education. Responding to these recommendations is first, of course, the responsibility of the ministry, but it's also the responsibility of the whole elementary and secondary education system.

At issue as well is our role in holding the school boards accountable for the exercise of their delegated responsibility. I don't wish to engage in too much "It's their responsibility" activity, pointing the finger at school boards that have exercised authority when in fact we have delegated that authority to them. I want to also focus, with the help of members of the committee and certainly through the leadership of the auditor's report, on our responsibility to influence where we don't have statutory or regulatory power.

First of all, a few comments with respect to curriculum development. The auditor's recommendation on the development and implementation of curriculum illustrates these general observations in more specific terms. The ministry sets provincial policy and issues provincial curriculum guidelines, which boards are required to follow. Through these guides, the ministry fulfils its responsibility of providing a common framework for the development of programs and courses of study.

The provincial guides are prescriptive, but they're also general. The development of more detailed curriculum based on these documents is a necessary step before the programs and courses can be delivered in the classroom. What Ontario does not have is a system-wide approach to this intermediate stage of more specific coordinated curriculum development.

It is important to note that the auditor recognizes that local school boards need some flexibility to adapt provincial curriculum guides to meet local needs. What the auditor is calling for -- and the ministry completely supports this -- is a better balance between local curriculum development and central coordination to reduce costs by eliminating unnecessary duplication, to ensure greater consistency in the quality of curriculum throughout the province and to ensure the sharing and use of best practices in the development of curriculum. This issue has particular importance in the current economic context, where it is essential to derive maximum benefit from each education dollar.

The ministry's approach has been to encourage and support partnerships among boards. Some boards have already formed groups to develop and share curriculum materials. Several of these consortia have received financial support from the ministry through the transition assistance fund. The ministry is working to establish a provincial clearinghouse to facilitate the sharing of curriculum materials developed by boards and schools. This clearinghouse will be an independent service operated by a partnership of stakeholders.


We're also taking advantage of communications technology. In partnership with the Ontario Teachers' Federation, the ministry is funding a project that links teachers throughout Ontario on a computer network. As of yesterday, there are about 4,000 teachers, and about 60 additional ones registering on a daily basis, all involved in a computer networking project that's designed to facilitate collective problem-solving across the province. Teachers and boards can also access an educational database called Onteris that has information about curriculum documents and learning materials.

With respect to the implementation of the new Common Curriculum for grades 1 to 9, the ministry is pleased by the auditor's positive comments on this curriculum and, importantly, its emphasis on learning outcomes.

The Vice-Chair (Ms Dianne Poole): Dr Pascal, we note that you're reading from a prepared text. Would it be possible to have a copy so we can distribute it to members? Do you have an extra copy with you that the clerk could take?

Dr Pascal: I don't have an extra one. Someone behind me may have. Yes? Then let's distribute them. I had hesitated in being prepared to do that because I really didn't sign off on my comfort level about what I wanted to say in a formal way until about an hour and a half ago.

Mr Duignan: On the same point, Madam Chair: If they're making any other presentations through the course of the rest of the week, could they make a copy available to the committee members?

Dr Pascal: The only presentations we will make throughout the rest of the week will be in response to well-put questions, and if a paper is necessary to satisfy the questions of members, we will provide paper in a timely way.

The Vice-Chair: I hope that doesn't mean that if questions aren't well put, you're not going to respond to them.

Dr Pascal: I'm sure all questions will be well put.

The Vice-Chair: That makes one of us. If you'd like to proceed, Dr Pascal, I apologize for interrupting.

Dr Pascal: Not at all. I'm sorry we didn't hand those out. I am on page 17, for those who wish to track my ad libs. These are notes for my presentation.

One significant difference between this curriculum and previous curriculum guides is that, as the minister has indicated at the time of its release, The Common Curriculum is a dynamic document that will grow and change with time and usage and advice from classroom teachers, parents and others.

The ministry has already started the consultations that will lead to the publication of a new version of the guide this year. As part of this process, the ministry is working with its partners to identify and coordinate the development of additional curriculum resources that will be needed to support the implementation of the curriculum.

The auditor has also recommended that the ministry broaden its field of vision when setting provincial curriculum guidelines by involving a wider range of provincial stakeholders and systematically reviewing curriculum from other provinces and countries. The ministry is committed to promoting greater involvement in education by all stakeholders, including those identified by the auditor and others, including students, parents, business and labour, for example, who are all involved in one way or another in The Common Curriculum review.

The minister has also established the Ontario Parent Council, with a mandate to provide advice on educational issues and to look at new ways of involving parents at the local level. The education-work connections project promotes school-community interaction to increase student retention and assist students of all ages with the transitions between and among school, work and further education and training opportunities. The school-colleges linkages project will promote partnerships between schools and colleges of applied arts and technology, building on the many articulation agreements that already exist between many of the schools and colleges across the province.

Through its participation in the activities of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada, and in international testing and curriculum comparison programs such as TIMSS, the third international mathematics and science study, scheduled for 1995, the ministry is also continuing to gather extensive information about curriculum in different jurisdictions.

If I can talk briefly about technology curriculum, two areas that the auditor highlighted as special concerns are curriculum for the broad-based technology program and French-language education.

When the ministry began to develop the new technology curriculum, it decided that we should be guided by the experience gained from programs that were being funded under the technological education program and equipment renewal fund. The documents for the new technology programs are therefore based on input and innovation and experimentation from school boards that have been running new programs over the past several years. Draft curriculum documents for the new program have been shared with school boards, and the ministry expects to have final documents in the schools by the end of this school year. The ministry is working with faculties of education to redesign the basic pre-service teacher program so that it reflects the new focus on broad-based technology.

In the area of French-language curriculum and teachers, the auditor's report has identified significant equity issues. As the report states, the basic issue is the need to ensure that French-language education in Ontario is of comparable quality to English-language education. The report summarizes the challenges of reaching this objective very well when it states, "The main difficulty is in trying to provide quality curriculum, teachers and facilities to a small, widely dispersed population in a cost-effective manner."

The ministry recognizes the need to improve the delivery of French-language curriculum. One means to achieve this is through an approach that emphasizes the development and support of cooperative efforts among and between boards and sections of boards. In cooperation with French-language school board officials, the ministry is working towards an agreement on ways to coordinate the development of French-language curriculum. This agreement will facilitate multiboard initiatives related to The Common Curriculum starting in the 1994-95 school year.

The ministry has negotiated agreements with consortia of French-language school boards or sections of boards to operate French-language teacher in-service training centres in three of the ministry's six regions. These centres will allow boards and sections to work together to enhance the quality of French-language education by providing joint teacher in-service training, by making better use of educational technology and by sharing services. The ministry expects that similar centres will be operating in the three remaining regions by 1994-95.

The ministry provides financial support for the development of French-language learning materials through the learning materials fund. In the 1994 request for proposals for funding, a high priority will be given to curriculum projects involving partnerships among and between school boards to foster a more cost-effective approach to curriculum development.

The ministry agrees with the auditor about the cost-effective delivery of French-language learning materials. It should also be noted that the ministry is often the only source of assistance to produce French-language versions of important learning materials because of the economy-of-scale problems that publishers find in terms of that particular market.

Following the auditor's recommendations, the ministry will develop a proposal to carry out an evaluation of the supply and demand of French-language learning materials in 1994 and encourage teachers to participate in setting priorities for the learning materials fund. Teachers will also be asked to recommend French-language materials from other provinces to the fund.

In the longer term, the development of new interprovincial partnerships, in particular the activity of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada, on curriculum comparability, will lead to a wider application of learning materials from other provinces in the province of Ontario.

Teacher training is always a critical issue in the delivery of curriculum. The ministry is pleased by the auditor's positive remarks about its French-language consultative services program and is implementing a marketing strategy to increase awareness of the resources and support this program offers French-language teachers. The establishment of French-language teacher in-service training centres, which I've already described, will also help in this regard.

The Royal Commission on Learning has a mandate to examine issues related to French-language education governance as well, and the ministry expects the commission's recommendations will help set directions for the evolution and improvement of French-language education in Ontario.

Accountability: The ministry is addressing many of the issues the Provincial Auditor has raised about accountability, but not all of them. These measures will improve the consistency and quality of education throughout the province and increase public confidence in the school system. In the short term, the ministry has already planned and in some cases implemented a number of assessment activities that will give us more information on how the curriculum is being followed and on student achievement.

Ontario's education system is already moving to set clear standards and learning outcome expectations. The new Common Curriculum describes the school programs in terms of learning outcomes; that is, the results we expect students to achieve and demonstrate. The ministry has recently released the provincial standards in math for grades 3, 6 and 9. Provincial standards for language for the same grades will be released for consultation by the end of March of this year. Taken together, these learning outcomes and related provincial standards are a solid base for program accountability, as suggested by the auditor.

In December, the minister announced the results of the provincial review of grade 12 writing in English and français. This review confirmed that our new emphasis on defining the results of education and stating clearly what we expect students to know and be able to do is the right way to go.


Activities already under way include the grade 9 reading and writing test, the preliminary results of which have been returned to schools, and there are plans to repeat this program in 1994-95. The grade 9 test gives us a picture of student achievement at a critical stage of education, at the end of elementary years and at the start of secondary school. Some 40,000 grade 9 students have participated in the test this past fall and have already received their individual results. The remaining 100,000 grade 9 students will take the test in the spring. Support for the test and this testing program from parents has been enthusiastic, and it could not have been administered successfully without the commitment and professionalism of grade 9 teachers throughout the province.

The results of the first national SAIP, school achievement indicators program, test of student achievement in mathematics organized by the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada, were announced last month. The ministry will continue to participate fully in this program, which, under Mr Cooke's leadership at CMEC this past year, is being expanded to provide national testing in math, language and science on a three-year rolling cycle. We will also participate in the third international math and science study in 1995. This issue is also an important part of the royal commission. In the longer term, the commission's recommendations in this regard will assist the minister, the government and the ministry in setting direction.

Teacher education, pre-service and in-service: a few remarks in this regard. The ministry and Ontario's education community share the auditor's concerns about the training and ongoing professional development of teachers. The teachers in the classroom obviously provide the backbone of the education system. Regardless of how we define quality of education and regardless of an emphasis on learning outcomes, it is an effective teacher who gets the job done for students, parents, guardians and for the society at large. The initial training of teachers, the introduction of new teachers into the classroom setting -- that is, the induction process -- and the professional enrichment of experienced teachers, are all vital components of quality education and positive educational change. Regardless of anyone's agenda for reform, teacher education has to be at the heart of any process of transformation. This is certainly obvious to us in the ministry and to those around the table. It certainly was obvious to the Provincial Auditor.

Educators have put a great deal of effort into reviewing the current system and have made wide-ranging suggestions for improvement. As the effective training and professional development of teachers is a critical component of changes to the curriculum, the whole issue is an important part of the mandate of the Royal Commission on Learning and to those of us in the ministry. In the shorter term, the ministry is committed to continuing work with faculties of education and the education community to identify and address current teacher education and training needs.

While the Royal Commission on Learning is examining future directions, the ministry is examining the recent reports around teacher education produced by the Teacher Education Council, Ontario. This will enable us to respond, we hope, quickly to the commission's recommendations when it reports in December 1994.

The ministry has also taken a number of steps to help teachers improve their skills and expertise: funding for innovative projects such as the Ontario Teachers' Federation "Creating a Culture of Change" initiative, to which I referred earlier; allocating a portion of the five-year, $60-million technological education program and equipment renewal fund for teacher training; and, as mentioned previously, negotiating agreements to set up regional French-language, in-service training centres to help meet the special needs of teachers in French-language schools.

The ministry also recognizes that the implementation of The Common Curriculum will create ongoing needs for teacher training and professional development. It's important to note that The Common Curriculum, unlike previous curriculum guides in Ontario, is a document that is designed to be revised and updated on a regular basis. The ministry is already receiving feedback about the current document and has specifically asked participants to offer suggestions about the kind of training teachers will need to help make effective use of the new curriculum.

It's also important to note, in the area of teacher education and training, that prior to the reorganization and restructuring of the ministry about 11 months ago, whenever we talked about faculties of education and their involvement in teacher education and in-service, any government in Ontario had to deal with two separate ministries; sometimes, in the past, under previous ministers and previous deputies, only one minister and one deputy, but up until now there has not been a full integration so that we have a slightly more focused opportunity to move on what's right in the area of teacher education.

Special education: Quite frankly, the auditor's findings on special education are of great concern to the ministry and to me personally have given many moments for pause in terms of addressing some of the difficulties. The findings reflect concerns that are held by many educators and parents whose children require special education programs.

Our accountability mechanisms need strengthening in both areas assessed by the auditor: the procedures and guidelines for monitoring school boards' compliance with the laws, regulations and policies governing special education; and the efforts to evaluate how effectively different programs and services are meeting the needs of exceptional students.

The statutes and regulations governing special education are of fairly recent origin. As we all know, the central piece of legislation that established the current system, Bill 82, was passed in 1980, with full implementation of its requirements in September 1985. It was this legislation that actually established the requirement for school boards to provide special education programs and services to exceptional pupils.

In a broad sense, then, the current legal and policy framework for special education was developed with a focus on providing a right for exceptional pupils to receive an education from their local school boards. This explains why the Education Act addresses procedures for identifying the individual needs of exceptional students and placing them in an appropriate program.

The recent passage of Bill 4, which received royal assent in July 1993, has enhanced the system's ability to respond to these individual needs. It has removed all references to the term "trainable retarded pupil" from the Education Act and deals with the provision of services for students with developmental challenges in Metro Toronto. It also enables the minister to make regulations regarding the use of American sign language and la langue des signes québécois as languages of instruction. Importantly, it removes the hard-to-serve category from the Education Act.

The current situation is that the delivery of special education programs and services is the responsibility of the school boards. Boards have a wide latitude in deciding what kinds of special education programs will be delivered to their students.

Special education advisory committees that boards are required to establish under the act are intended to be, in part, a mechanism for local accountability. The auditor has noted the need to ensure that these committees have information about best practices that will assist them in fulfilling their role.

The ministry agrees with this and will work with the Provincial Parents' Association, which is a special education group, and others to revise and distribute the association's handbook for members of special education advisory committees. The ministry will also take a lead role in communicating this information to boards and work with the association to increase awareness of this resource among members of local advisory committees. I think we can do more, and I'm sure members will wish to explore what those possibilities might be.

These measures will strengthen one mechanism for accountability. However, the auditor had expressed concern about the current ability of the ministry's regional offices to monitor school boards' compliance with special education legislation. The auditor has also pointed to the need to establish clearer guidelines for the provision of special education as a necessary component of an accountability mechanism.

As part of its reorganization following the consolidation of three former ministries in February of last year, the ministry has undertaken a comprehensive review of its regional services. This timely review includes a review of how the ministry monitors or should monitor the delivery of special education by school boards.

With respect to the issue of guidelines, it needs to be stressed that there is not a consensus within the special education community about a single approach to special education. This is reflected in the ministry's response to the auditor's recommendation that the ministry review to update its definitions or categories of exceptionalities.

As the ministry's reply indicates, the use of such definitions is an issue within the education community. Some groups involved in special education believe there is an emphasis on definitions leading to labelling of exceptional pupils, which they believe is inappropriate. Other groups believe that definitions should be retained to assist in identifying the needs of exceptional pupils so these pupils may be appropriately served.

Another factor that must be addressed in developing guidelines is that some support services for special education are offered in partnership with local service agencies and community organizations. Special services such as treatment and care are beyond the mandate of school boards. These services may fall under the jurisdiction of other ministries.


At the provincial level, we need to do a better job of working in partnership with other ministries so the needs of all of our clients may be met through a more coordinated, effective and cost-effective programming. The ministry also intends to be more active in encouraging the same collaboration and joint effort at the local level.

The ministry is committed to increasing opportunities for the integration of exceptional pupils into regular classroom. The ministry is currently working, in consultation with interested groups and individuals, to develop a proposed policy on integration. This process of consultation is certainly helping us to clarify what the education system needs in terms of policy direction from the province. The ministry will continue to work with school boards and other interested groups and individuals to develop guidelines providing cost-effective programs and services.

The auditor has also raised concerns about the use of resources for special education. These concerns focus on the availability and cost-effective use of specialist resource staff to assess the needs of pupils and to support the delivery of special education; on the lack of information about cost-effectiveness of different models for delivering special education and the use of compensatory grants and grants for education programs in care, treatment and correctional facilities.

The ministry agrees completely that there is a need to develop information that will support more efficient management of special education and to improve the monitoring of how the system uses human and financial resources.

As I mentioned earlier, one of the goals of the education finance reform project is to propose a funding model that will make the lines of accountability and transparency much clearer and provide greater equity in the distribution of funding to school boards.

The ministry reorganization provides opportunities, we think, to help redefine the goals and reshape programs and services in light of its mandate for lifelong learning and the need for greater productivity in a time of reduced resources. This will be essential in order to respond to the auditor's recommendations, particularly in the context of the government's deficit-control measures.

The auditor's report is extremely well done. It's very timely. In Ontario, as elsewhere, public concern about the quality and cost of education is high. The ministry is committed to taking action to build public confidence, strengthen accountability and equity throughout the system and create new partnerships to improve our education and training system.

Thank you, Madam Chair. I very much look forward to our dialogue, to dealing with questions and concerns that arise and, importantly, engaging in a collective process to increase our commitment, perceived and otherwise, to accountability, for the sake of outcomes which are high, relevant and assured for the people of Ontario and their tax dollars.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you, Dr Pascal, for your presentation today. As Mr Duignan noted earlier, members from all three caucuses are most interested in pursuing the special education component, so if it's amenable to you and your assistants, we would probably first focus on special education today and probably a good part of tomorrow before going into the curriculum development.

I believe the auditor has a few comments.

Mr Peters: I would just like to express our thanks to the ministry, its staff, the school boards, the principals, the teachers and the interest groups who came forward to meet with us to help us in this audit process.

There's no doubt that across the system there are major concerns. The major concerns are that there's interest in fixing the problem in preference to fixing the blame. This part of our report is viewed as a particularly good example of the new approach we are taking in doing this, fixing the problem rather than fixing the blame, and to have our report used as a catalyst for action. The focus of everybody we met was really on how well students are taught and learn and what the outcomes of the educational system and the impact are on students. I'd like to thank everybody we have met in the context of this audit.

The Vice-Chair: I would suggest that we have 15-minute rotations. We'll start with the government caucus. I have Mr Duignan, Ms Haeck and Mr Malkowski on the list.

Mr Duignan: Thank you for your presentation this morning. I'm going to focus, as I said earlier, on the special education component of the auditor's report. As alluded to earlier, I would indeed like to see a special audit, if need be, done on this whole question of special education and related matters. That's something we will discuss later.

It's amazing that we spend some $14 billion on education, nearly as much, as my colleague indicated to me, as we do on health. Sometimes I wonder, with what we read in the newspapers and given our experience in the local areas, what the hell we spend $14 billion on, given some of the problems in the education system.

I want to focus a little on special education. The auditor's finding on special education, which you alluded to, has raised a great deal of concern in the ministry. I have a kid who receives special education, so not only do I have a stake in but a great concern about how this is carried out in the numerous school boards.

Has the ministry finished its review of special education and support? Given the fact that it knows all the problems in relation to the support mechanism for special education, given it knows the problems of the accountability, that the school boards are spending the money on special education, what has the ministry done to date in putting in place or implementing the systems necessary to make sure that those problems are corrected?

The Vice-Chair: Dr Pascal, I note that you've been joined at the table by a number of people from your special education branch. Would you like to introduce them to begin with? Then perhaps the first time a member of your panel speaks, they could just identify themselves for Hansard.

Dr Pascal: Thank you very much, Madam Chair. I'll introduce colleagues as they come and go, as issues arise. I very much appreciate the committee focusing on special education, for a whole bunch of reasons: First of all, a dedicated focus allows us to provide staffing support as appropriate and necessary, but also because of the pre-eminence of the issues in the auditor's report.

To my immediate right is Jim Doris, who's a team leader for education finance reform. To my immediate left is Peter Ferren, from our special education team. Deborah Goldberg is here from our legislative services and legal team. Each of them, Madam Chair, as you've indicated, will reintroduce themselves when they speak.

With respect to what we've done to date, let me make a few preliminary comments and then perhaps ask Peter Ferren if he would add to my preliminary remarks. I think it's very important to remind ourselves that when Bill 80 was introduced and launched by Dr Stephenson in the first year of the 1980s, the responsibility for the manner in which assignments and individualization would take place was a responsibility of the board. As the Provincial Auditor has noted, there is a responsibility on the part of the board to submit annual reports with respect to the plan and the issues arising from implementing the plan. It's the responsibility of the ministry, through its regional offices, to assess the plan and to provide feedback to the board about the issues arising.

The Provincial Auditor has noted some problems and inconsistency about closing the loop with respect to the monitoring. I think it's a legitimate issue for him to have raised, because that obviously was his experience and his findings. We will talk in our discussions, I'm sure, today and tomorrow about what we're going to do to correct that.

Let me also comment very briefly on the issue of levels of service before we get into some details about what in fact we have done since Dr Stephenson introduced the legislation in 1980 and what we propose to do as a result of the Provincial Auditor's recommendations.

The issue of level of services and the inconsistency in that regard are in part a function of the individual manner in which school boards could innovate in terms of either providing a direct response to a special child's needs or doing something in partnership with another part of their school board or indeed with another school board entirely. As a result of this, the perception is, and in some people's experience, their perceived version of reality, there's inconsistent levels of service. There's an apple-and-orange situation. If you look at what's taking place from child to child or board to board, it looks inconsistent because of the high level of individualization in terms of how boards deal with the problem.

I think the perception is far worse than the reality, but the issue remains, and it's something that, as the Provincial Auditor suggested, we might have done a better job of with some applied research in terms of actually studying what is being done and what the various options are from the point of view of not only service but cost-effectiveness. I think we in government, generally speaking, probably need to do far more applied research in terms of what happens when we implement policies such as this.

My hope, Madam Chair, is that through the government's final response on integration, which is in the works, there will be far more harmony in terms of what happens with levels of service through the options they choose with respect to integration.

Those are a few opening remarks, and I apologize for the length of them. If it's okay, Peter will provide some details with respect to what we've done since 1980 in terms of the policy and what we propose to do in terms of some of the issues arising from the Provincial Auditor's report.


Mr Duignan: I was wondering, because you weren't actually answering the question.

Mr Peter Ferren: To list just a few of the activities since 1980 which I would consider major activities that have been carried out in the field of special education, I suppose from the time that Bill 82 was introduced and approved in 1980, the next immediate steps were regulations 305 and 306.

Regulation 305 sets out the procedure for the establishment of identification and placement review committees. That is really the mechanism for identifying whether a pupil is indeed exceptional or not, identifying that particular pupil's needs and recommending appropriate placements. That process builds in a parental involvement, a parental consent for the recommended placement, the opportunity to review that program and also to appeal the placement. That particular regulation I think is a cornerstone of the Education Act amendment of 1980.

Over the years, what has happened there, if I can go to what we anticipate in relation to that particular regulation, there has been criticism of the IPRC process. Certainly many parents have found that that process is uninviting, that it's not a very welcoming situation to be placed in, particularly when there is the feeling that the decisions may have been made already before the parent enters the actual decision-making process at the end of all of the information gathering. Also, I think the number of staff involved in that particular process intimidates parents. I think that's a legitimate concern, and parents have expressed that to us even in recent consultations concerning the integration of exceptional pupils.

The ministry is launching a review of the IPRC process to address some of those concerns that have been expressed, not only by parents but by school boards and parents' associations, and that review has just begun by the Advisory Council on Special Education.

Another regulation that's pertinent to the auditor's report is regulation 306, which spells out the procedures for the review of the special education plans, and that's the annual review process. There are improvements, obviously, that need to be addressed in that particular area. The auditor has drawn attention to the lack of guidelines for the provision of programs and services. We do have guidelines for the review of the special education plans, but as Dr Pascal has indicated, the delivery of the programs is the responsibility of the school boards, so we have not issued prescriptions to school boards on how they would deliver those programs. But what we intend to do is to review with the Ministry of Education and Training's special education committee that particular issue and to develop appropriate guidelines in consultation with the Advisory Council on Special Education, the trustee associations and the parent associations. That Ministry of Education special education committee consists of a representative from each of the regional offices and from each of the provincial schools, the director of the provincial schools project and a representative from MET.

Some of the other major things that have happened since 1980: The ministry prepared, developed and issued a special education handbook; it's a 1984 handbook, but it's very detailed. It contains suggestions for programs for particular exceptionalities such as learning disabilities or dealing with pupils who have limited vision or who are blind. It contains a list of support documents that the ministry has developed and also the pertinent memoranda around Bill 80.

There have been several support documents developed during the last 10 to 12 years. Just to name a few, they deal with behaviour and communication and vision. In 1985, the ministry produced one, Programming for the Gifted. I guess the last one the ministry has produced in the area of special education is the 1990 document, Planning for Independence. That is a rather extensive document, with suggestions for school boards in planning for programs for pupils with developmental disabilities in the elementary level and in the secondary level. That document contains case studies and examples of how school boards could develop appropriate programs for these particular students.

To come to recently now, in terms of what we propose to do and what we have done, in 1992 the ministry conducted a consultation with the major partners in education throughout the province on the proposed directions for the integration of exceptional pupils. The development of those particular directions is still under way. Following that consultation and review, there have been several meetings with stakeholders across the province, particularly during this past year, 1993, in May, September and December.

What the ministry has endeavoured to do through those particular meetings is to glean from the major stakeholders: What are some of the major issues around the integration of exceptional pupils? What are some of the major issues around the allocation of resources? How can we support teachers effectively through in-service training programs and pre-service training programs? And how do we address the issue of making the facilities across the province accessible for all pupils with disabilities? Those are some of the major activities.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you, Mr Ferren. Mr Duignan, your time is almost up, but a lot of that time was actually taken by ministry staff explaining some of the background of what's happening in special education. As long as there's a consensus by the opposition, I'll add a few more minutes to your time so that you actually get an opportunity to ask some questions. Mr Duignan, did you want to proceed?

Mr Robert V. Callahan (Brampton South): You've got to hold the floor, Noel.

Ms Christel Haeck (St Catharines-Brock): I'll give him a nudge.

Mr Duignan: Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

Indeed I thank you for bringing us up to speed to this point in time. However, my questions haven't been fully answered and I intend to pursue them over the course of the next couple of days. You mentioned the fact that there's a review of the process in place and that it's just begun. How long do you envisage that process taking place and when do you expect to report back and when do you expect to implement the recommendations from that report?

Mr Ferren: The anticipated time line for the establishment of the guidelines for the provision of programs and services is the fall of 1994. We're just initiating that process now with the regional offices of the ministry.

Mr Duignan: Also, the auditor has expressed some great concern about the ability of the minister's offices to monitor school boards' compliance with special education. We've dealt a little bit with that. Also, the auditor has pointed out the need to establish clearer guidelines for the provision of special education as a necessary component of the accountability mechanism, just taking it from your notes here. In the meantime, what are you doing to satisfy the auditor on that point?


Mr Ferren: First of all, concerning the guidelines, I've just addressed that. We've begun that process just now. We've only had the first meeting concerning the establishment of guidelines, and that will continue on a monthly basis until those guidelines are established. They will be reviewed with the advisory council on special education and the other stakeholders. So that's the provision of the guidelines for special ed programs and services.

In terms of the monitoring, we have recently developed guidelines for the review of the school boards' special education plans and have just reviewed those with the regional office representatives. That's for the monitoring of the school board plans. Those are guidelines for the school boards to review their plans.

Those reviews then are due in May 1994, and it's the issue after those reviews are received by the regional office staff that is at issue.

The regional office staff will, in this coming year, review those guidelines and will, as it has in the past, correspond with the school boards where there is non-compliance with the regulations or the act, and then there will be a further follow-up to ensure that those non-compliance issues are corrected. That's the immediate action on that. That's not the long-term solution to the whole monitoring process, but the closing of that loop was one of the concerns.

Mr Duignan: Just very briefly -- I know my time has expired -- given the fact this legislation has been around for some 14 years and fully implemented for some nine years, why did it take so long for the Ministry of Education to recognize there were problems in the system? And, given the fact that it took so long, is there a mechanism now in the ministry to make sure that there is continuing monitoring of these programs to make sure that the problems are corrected immediately and not wait for another nine or 14 years?

Mr Ferren: Certainly, to the last question, there is, as I've indicated, a process in place and we will be reviewing that situation annually when we develop the guidelines for the review of the plans.

In terms of the time line for identifying some of the issues, I think some of the issues have been identified. But I think we need to keep in mind that in many areas, overall, the compliance with the requirements of the act and regulation have been quite satisfactory.

Mr Duignan: To whom?

Mr Ferren: To the ministry in terms of the plans --

Mr Duignan: Certainly not to the parents in many cases who come to see me in my constituency office, and I know many members have the same problems as well.

Mr Ferren: I think that's a different issue. That's the issue that's directly talking about the delivery at the local level. That's another issue altogether and that relates back to the provision of guidelines for more consistency in the types of programs and services that are provided.

The Vice-Chair: We have time for one quick question from Ms Haeck and then we'll go on to the official opposition.

Ms Haeck: I'm going to take a slightly different tack and it's not going to be on special education. The auditor has identified that with regard to the French teachers we have in the system, retention is extremely low and a large proportion of teachers who teach in the province come from outside of the province.

The issue that I wanted to raise also relates to, first of all, where the teachers are coming from, what kind of accreditation they have to go through in order to work in the province and what kind of coordination there is with the other provinces -- I'm thinking particularly of Quebec and New Brunswick -- where in fact they all require French teaching materials and as a result they need some sort of resource.

I understand that there's a concern that this deviates from the special education side of the equation, but I'm just looking through Dr Pascal's notes and I will put them on notice and they can answer that at a later date.

The Vice-Chair: I appreciate your saying that, Ms Haeck, because we did tell the ministry that we were going to focus on special education for today.

Ms Haeck: I have marked Dr Pascal's presentation. I'm just being chronological.

The Vice-Chair: We will assure the ministry that today we will focus solely on special education, so if some of your curriculum people have other things they'd like to do this afternoon, we won't ask any questions that will pull you up short.

Dr Pascal: One of the things they have to do this afternoon is ensure that the provincial standards for language in the same grades, that is, 3, 6 and 9, flowing from The Common Curriculum are released for consultation by the end of February, not March as I mentioned in my earlier remarks. Thank you for letting me correct the record.

The Vice-Chair: Certainly, also, if we know by the end of today whether we're going to need your curriculum people back in the morning, we'll let you know at that stage, too, so you can perhaps do a little bit more planning.

Mr Callahan: I'm going to zero in on what might be considered to be a very narrow area of exceptional students. I'm going to deal with young people with learning disabilities. It seems to me that people who have visible disabilities, those who are challenged physically or mentally, are very observable to the system and are one group. The group that's not observable is young people with learning disabilities. I think it's become more and more clear that for some reason, whether it's a different approach to life or the problems of growing up or whatever, we're suddenly seeing a very extensive number of young people who are being identified as people who have what I call an invisible disability.

This has caused me serious concern, not just with reference to the educational system but also with the recent employment equity bill that was passed, which entitles those people to special treatment. But they won't get it unless they're identified as being learning disabled because, as you know, the employment equity bill is a self-identifying process whereby a person has to say, "I'm learning disabled; therefore I'm entitled to a job under that bill."

Of course, the other concern I have -- and this is background I'm laying for you because they are some of the concerns that I think are real roadblocks to young people who have learning disabilities. It's my understanding that OHIP is prepared to fund psychiatrists -- I made a comment in camera which I will not make in public -- but it's not prepared to fully fund or provide immediate assistance to families to have their children properly diagnosed if some problem is observed by either the teacher, the parent, or whatever. I think that's a time bomb that's ticking; a real time bomb that's ticking.

I've seen it in the courts. I've seen in the young offender courts where you can clearly identify a kid as being learning disabled. That's why the kid is in trouble. There's no way to identify that. The kid has not been identified in the schools for some reason, whatever reason; I don't know why. I've often, in fact, asked judges to make orders that they be assessed and have the crown pay for it. I don't think that should be necessary. I think there should be a very clear effort on the part of our society to put up no roadblocks whatsoever to have young people identified if they should happen to have what I call the invisible disability, because the net result of it, I suggest to you, is like, as the mechanic says, "You can pay me now or pay me later."

If you don't provide the funding and you don't provide the free access and the availability to that type of identification, then in fact what's happening is you're going to pay for it in spades down the line, either in the correctional system or the welfare system or a whole host of other disadvantaged situations.

I know the answer that I will probably get, because I get it from my friends when I bring this up. They say: "Well, the school boards have all of the facilities and the tools to be able to have a child identified through the school system. They probably have a psychologist on either staff or on retainer." But that's not dealing with the kids who in the main, perhaps, are dropouts. Maybe the reason they're dropouts is because they get to grade 7 or 8 and they become so disenchanted -- they don't know what's wrong with them. I've talked to lots of these kids. They don't know what's wrong with them. They think they're just bad kids.


I would suggest that if proper identification was made, you'd probably find the reason a lot of these kids drop out is because they think they're stupid. The teachers think that they're cutups or discipline problems. We all know that can be a clear identification of some young person who has an attention deficit and therefore is not able to study, is not able to deal with matters in the regular classroom.

I guess my first question is to you, Dr Pascal. Back in June or earlier, the government of the day -- and this is not a partisan crack at all; I would've said it if it was the Liberals or the Conservatives trying to do it -- was going to eliminate section 35, which, as you know, is the section dealing with the hard-to-serve. I went over and talked to the minister of the day, who was Mr Silipo, and I pleaded with him not to eliminate it because in fact it provided a safety valve for those young people who couldn't be served within the system. His explanation to me was that it also provided the school boards with an easy out to get rid of these kids if they couldn't provide the service themselves. I believe he said that as the province has to pick up the entire tab for it, they wanted to bring something else in.

I suggested to Mr Silipo that his concerns were really farfetched because in my region I think there were maybe only one or two over all the period of this legislation who were ever identified as hard to serve and that moneys were paid out for them to go to another institution. I suggested to him that perhaps what he might want to do is share the cost; make it part paid by the trustees and part by the province.

But I want to know, is section 35 still to be scrapped?

Dr Pascal: It has been.

Mr Callahan: It has been. All right. Well, that's the reason I brought in Bill 15, which is a private member's bill. I brought that in specifically for that reason, because I think that it's a very foolish thing to do. It seems to me, from my discussions with Mr Silipo, that it's only being done for economic reasons. If we're trying to save money now, we're going to pay for it, as I said, in spades down the line.

My bill was brought in in May 1993 and it was to ensure that a full range of special education placements is available to exceptional children at no cost to the child or parents. That's obviously not going to go anywhere, as most private members' bills -- in fact, I wonder why we even have Thursday mornings in this place. It's like kiddie court. You bring a bill forward; you debate it; it gets passed; people in the gallery, if you've got them there, applaud, thinking this is going to become law, not knowing it's never going to see the light of day because it's up to the government to decide whose bills are called forward.

But what is being proposed then to replace this?

Dr Pascal: I certainly agree with Mr Callahan's concerns about the invisible handicap that presents itself with LD children and, quite frankly, LD adults who lived at a time where the kind of screening and early intervention that are now more prevalent in the system might not have been. There's no doubt in my mind that, while it's imperfect, the strides made since Bill 82 in the school boards in terms of dealing with early identification and early intervention have been a modest success story.

I agree that issues remain in terms of how perfect the system is and whether the kind of screening possibilities that are there are what should be in the system. The dropout rate and what we do in terms of exit activity, in terms of determining causes, is an issue that I think deserves some addressing.

But I think it's also important to note that the "hard to serve," as I indicated parenthetically during your remarks, has been removed. It's been removed not as a cost-saving measure -- I don't want to get involved in discussing a conversation you may have had with a former minister or your interpretation of that conversation -- but because of a perception on the part of the current government that the school boards had developed a certain level of maturity and expertise to be able to deal with most of the presenting difficulties in terms of these challenges.

The hard-to-serve requests that have come through the system from 1985 to the present are relatively small in number, which should be a modest exhibit A. In a final, preliminary answer to your question, the ministry is going to ensure that the IPRC process obviously stays in place in a more improved fashion, as per the review that Peter Ferren referred to earlier. And as part of the implementation towards a non-hard-to-serve environment, the ministry has expanded its places in the provincial schools, in particular one demonstration school, the Trillium School, for dealing with learning-disabled children where they deal with the most extreme difficulties in terms of presenting symptoms and problems. It's not a perfect situation but it's a far better world for the LD population than it would have been even 14 or 15 years ago.

Mr Ferren: During the hearings of Bill 4, the recent ones of last May and June, what we heard from the groups that presented at that time, the parent associations, concerning their fears about the elimination of section 35, was that there was a very small number of pupils with severe learning disabilities in combination with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder who would fall through the cracks if we removed that section from the act. It was repeated by those parent groups that made the presentation that they were talking a very small number.

Then the commitment was made through those Bill 4 hearings and when Bill 4 was approved that the ministry would take some particular steps. One of those steps was that we would increase the number of pupil places at the demonstration school to accommodate pupils with severe learning disabilities in combination with ADHD. Action has taken place on that during the current year and nine additional pupils have been approved for admission. Not all of those pupils are in yet. There are about five of those pupils who have now been admitted to the school and there are four other pupils where arrangements are being made to accommodate them.

In addition to that, there was a commitment to develop a regulation that would govern the operation of the Provincial Committee on Learning Disabilities. That regulation is in the development stage at this time. The purpose of that committee would be to admit pupils to the demonstration schools and also to deal with pupils who may come through the committee but could be more adequately served in the school board jurisdictions if in fact there were some additional supports provided, and there was a commitment to provide some funding to support those pupils in their local school programs. That regulation is under development, as I said. That's those two particular initiatives.

In relation to the assessment question, I think it's a major issue. It's the issue of the portability of assessments. The problem that was identified by the interministerial committee on learning disabilities report was that the pupil may be assessed two or three times before the pupil gets to the next stage of educational endeavour. Let's assume that the pupil may be assessed very early in the early years, even before entering the regular school, that definitely the pupil has a learning disability. Obviously it's not a static thing; you have to keep reviewing it. He's assessed during his elementary and secondary school, and then the concern of the Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario is that you move from secondary to go into post-secondary at a community college or at a university level and there's a demand for another assessment when the assessment is already there.

That exists across various ministries. What was recommended from that report was that a survey of the various ministries be carried out to determine exactly what the barriers are to the portability of assessment. That survey has been released to the ministries of Health and Community and Social Services and it's not complete yet. We don't have the results yet.


Mr Callahan: The thing that bothered me about the elimination of section 35 was that it was done retroactively. There were kids who were already in the system -- I think it went back to 1992, if I'm not mistaken -- who were simply dropped on their faces. There was provision for them, they were declared to be hard to serve, they were sent to the appropriate place for them to receive help and then were suddenly left out in the cold. I hope some of those people have been drawn in in these extra spaces that you've provided for in Trillium or any other place.

Mr Ferren: To clarify that, there were some other commitments made there. We were talking about a very small number. There are actually four pupils who have been declared hard to serve and who are in placements other than elementary or secondary schools at the present time, and there's a commitment to continue funding those pupils until the end of this current school year, in other words to June 1994.

Secondly, the ministry committed its staff to work with the parents and the school boards to bridge their transfer from their present placement to the school boards. That will take place and is taking place during this particular school year.

The other elements of Bill 4 -- increasing the places in the demonstration schools and providing additional funding to school boards: It's expected that will meet the needs for the additional learning-disabled pupils who would have come through the section 35 process.

Mr Callahan: You've indicated that my time is up but I'd like to have an idea of how much time -- and I'm not saying this in a pejorative way -- the government had in relation to what I've just had. I can't believe it's the same amount.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Callahan, I gave the government an additional five minutes mainly because the ministry's first response took 15 minutes, and much of it was background material that could have been part of a presentation, actually.

Mr Callahan: So I have five minutes more, do I?

The Vice-Chair: You've actually had three minutes more than your allowed time. I'm trying to be flexible.

Mrs Dianne Cunningham (London North): The government started. They had over 35 or 40 minutes, something like that.

The Vice-Chair: Mrs Cunningham, the government had 20 minutes total and it was supposed to have 15. There was no 30, 35 minutes.

Mr Duignan: On the same point, I know we're pursuing a very interesting line of questions on all sides here and there seems to be agreement on all sides. Maybe what we should do on the next round is just have a free-for-all in relation to questioning. If a member of this committee is on a certain line of questions and members of whichever party want to ask a question, they should be able to be free to jump in. Jumping from 15 minutes -- the questioning doesn't flow at all.

I was wondering if we could go to some system like that since we basically reached agreement between all of us that this is a very important topic. I would like to jump in and follow up on a question asked by Mr Callahan but we're restricted to 15 or 20 minutes each side. Maybe we should consider a system like that.

The Vice-Chair: I'm happy to consider anything which the committee wishes to do. Generally speaking, even on a non-partisan committee, a so-called nonpartisan committee like public accounts, it sometimes gets into difficulty if it is a free-for-all. But if members prefer to go to that, I'm trying to be flexible as far as the time and allow people to finish.

Mrs Cunningham: Why don't you let everybody have 20 or 25 minutes this morning and then this afternoon we can try a different way? That way it'll probably be split fairly evenly, wouldn't you think, if Mr Callahan goes another five minutes or so? I'm interested in this as well and I know that the others are. So give them another five or 10 minutes and then let us finish off.

The Vice-Chair: Why don't we add another five minutes to your time, we'll do the same to Mrs Cunningham and do the same --

Mrs Cunningham: Are we ending at noon?

The Vice-Chair: We're ending at noon.

Mrs Cunningham: I guess my point is, then we finish at five to 12, so the two of us will finish up before lunch. If somebody wants to jump in on something I suppose they can write their questions down, which would be good, and we can start with maybe some questions after lunch. I know that I had a couple.

The Vice-Chair: We intend to start with questions after lunch. We have three hours this afternoon, so it'll be one hour per caucus.

Mrs Cunningham: Okay, whatever. Before lunch let us split it. Give him another five or 10 minutes. I don't care, as long as --

The Vice-Chair: I think the concern about the sharing of the time is somewhat premature simply because we have --

Mrs Cunningham: We've got four days.

The Vice-Chair: -- we have four days. We have three days left, and I think there will be ample opportunity to pursue questions. It's just that if I start allowing supplementaries from different caucuses, it sometimes sidetracks the member who is trying to make his or her point. So why don't we continue this way? I think this afternoon we'll probably allow more time between caucuses so that people can develop.

Mr Gary Malkowski (York East): Just at the same time, why don't we just go ahead and do it, go around, and that way we can get it done?

The Vice-Chair: I think that's an excellent suggestion. Mr Callahan, do you want to continue?

Mr Callahan: Yes, please. Thank you.

I understand what you're saying about those who are going to be allowed to continue until the end of this year, but that still doesn't solve the problem. I suggest that if a young person has been determined to be hard to serve, how does it necessarily change that decision and how are you going to provide the proper placement for them to continue after this? It's obvious that their parents perhaps can't even afford to pay for that. In any event, you've given me the answer and I'd just leave that one out there hanging.

Dr Pascal, you mentioned the IPRC referral process. I can't remember your exact words, but I gather it's going to be made easier. The experience I've had from parents, and it's even alluded to somewhere in the documentation here, is that the IPRC hearings are directly related to the number of placements that are available. That's been the history. That's been discovered in terms of the history. So it means that the perception at least for the parents -- I don't know whether it's actuality -- is that they get that hearing if there are placements available. If there are limited placements available, they make it difficult for you to get the hearing, and you're sort of stopped in your tracks.

Dr Pascal: That shouldn't be the case. In response to Mr Callahan's earlier question, in my reference to the IPRC process being made easier, I believe I said that as per the review that's taking place by the minister's special Advisory Council on Special Education, the IPRC process is being evaluated for improvements.

Mr Callahan: In fact, I might refer you to the auditor's report. On page 84 of the auditor's report, under "Identification, Placement and Review Committee," in the second paragraph, final paragraph, the auditor says:

"All school boards we visited had these committees. We were informed by school boards visited that in some cases, due to limited resources, the number of referrals of students to an IPRC for identification as exceptional is limited by the number of spaces available for exceptional pupils."

That to me, first of all, is unjust. Second of all, it becomes even more significant with the elimination of section 35, because you've really left them in limbo, as it were. There may be kids who, because they can't place them someplace appropriate, are going to have to stay in the system, and they're going to wind up the kids being the dropouts and the kids who may very well wind up in trouble with the law. I just point that out to you and I hope you would look at it.

The final thing is, and this will have to be very quickly, the question of correctional facilities. I know that under the act some of these moneys are supposed to be allocated to allow young people who are in trouble with the law and in correctional facilities to be assessed, to be identified. I can tell you from my experience of 30 years practising criminal law, and particularly with young people, that I've found an awful lot of them who -- I guess some people would say maybe I'm a bleeding heart, but I think I can identify a kid who has a learning disability, and I've seen lots of them. Lots of them. They're classic examples. You read the pre-sentence report of these kids and they got to grade 7 or 6; 7 or 8 is usual. They started to act up. Every now and then we would get a psychological report done because I felt some problems and I brought it to the judge's attention. And we did in fact find that's what these kids were, attention deficit; not your clear dyslexia where you can see it, but attention deficit. I suspect there are lots of them out there, and we should be doing everything possible to ensure that they're identified and that they're helped.


The final thing is that you might take -- and I've raised this with ministers of education of my party and the present government, and this is perhaps outside of your sphere. When young people go to university or community college and miss their year for the very reason that's symptomatic of their problem and are then told that they fall into the same category as the people who are screwups because they just partied too much and didn't make their year -- you know that rule where you can't repeat the year more than twice or something like that? That should not be applicable to kids with a learning disability. That is most unfair.

We should be encouraging those kids with an open-door policy to keep them in school, to try to increase their confidence in themselves and ensure that they're going to come out as good, responsible citizens who are able to succeed, as opposed to kids who are going to wind up in trouble with the law, or just being people who can't make it in our society.

I don't think we have any more time for you to even answer that, but I leave it out there. I hope it gets back to the appropriate people.

The Vice-Chair: Actually, Mr Callahan, I was going to follow Mrs Cunningham's suggestion that the two caucuses split the remaining time and then this afternoon, when we start, to give the government extra time to compensate so that all three caucuses -- so you would have another three minutes.

Mr Callahan: Mrs Cunningham was so good to me in terms of speaking up for my time that I'm going to allocate those three minutes to her, unless Dr Pascal would like to answer my concerns.

Mr Anthony Perruzza (Downsview): You just lost them, Dianne.

Dr Pascal: Sorry, apologies to all, in particular for my long-winded remarks to an earlier question. The question Mr Callahan raises about section 27 kids, I think there's an issue there that is worth looking into. We may have an answer; I just don't have it right now. There may be a selection bias, which I think you've called attention to, in terms of kids who may have compounded problems, and there may be a higher percentage.

What we do in terms of special intervention on the LD side in terms of diagnosis and support, I don't know whether we do anything extraordinary for section 27 kids, but I will look into it and get you an answer in the next day or so, or an appropriate time.

Mrs Cunningham: I just want to indicate my support for Mr Callahan's concern. I think it's known that we didn't support Bill 4 because I didn't feel, nor did my colleagues, that there was a system in place for many of the hard-to-serve students, and until we have a system that has the confidence of the public in place, we shouldn't be removing some of their rights within the Education Act. I still feel very strongly about that.

The only comment I can add is that there are successful programs around the world. They're tough ones and they're expensive. The reason we have to have so many of them for the older students is because we don't do a good job with the younger ones. Maybe if we did a better job with our younger students -- I'm now talking about our elementary school students -- and their families, which I underline, we wouldn't have the expensive problems that we have today.

In opening, I can only say to the auditor, and I said it yesterday in camera, that personally I very much appreciate the work that you have done. I think it's excellent. It's been far-reaching. I'm sure you spent many hours trying to come up with the appropriate questioning, especially as so much of it relates to program. I admire you for getting into that kind of detail.

I'm also going to congratulate the ministry that for the first time since I've been here, and that doesn't mean a hell of a lot, but I will say that I think there's a very refreshing response from the ministry around some pretty pointed observations that one could say were somewhat critical. So people working together, it'll be better for students.

I should say that I am interested in the auditor's report to this end. Where the ministry, Dr Pascal, stated today that our accountability mechanisms need strengthening, I think that, from my point of view, should take very little time. I consider it bureaucratic. I consider the fact that the legislation has been there for so long that it's a matter of just reviewing how well we've done with our monitoring and fixing it where it isn't well done, and I don't think that should take more than two weeks.

That's the way I feel about it, because I think the school boards have been in the business for a long period of time. We spend far too much time checking up on what they do and we don't spend enough time looking at the delivery at the local level and how well the students are doing. If I had any money right now and I were in charge, that's where I'd put the money. I still think it has to be monitored, so I obviously have little time for that.

What has taken the ministry so long? Why isn't it in place? It's astonishing that this should have even been uncovered by the auditor. This is the job of the ministry, and what the heck are they doing in the regional offices if somebody tells us these boards aren't being monitored correctly?

I'm only going to throw two things in here. With regard to these annual reports, all of us have concerns that the special education advisory committees, and it varies from board to board, aren't involved. To me that's a people issue, and I don't know how you fix it.

If we've got school boards where administrators are drawing up these plans and calling together the special education advisory committee, and sometimes phoning a few of them and lobbying them, they're very extensive, they're very time-consuming, and the one thing administrators don't have for parents is time. They should be walking them through it and they should be inviting parents who are critical of the system to get there and find out about it. They're not doing it, because I sat on a school board that did it and it was only as good as the administrator in charge. So that's my statement there. That's a people issue. You can sit and write, from now till doomsday, new handbooks, the whole bit, and if people don't want it to work it won't work. I feel so strongly about it.

The individual identification and review committee -- I have a child. I never did think I would have one and it wasn't until he was 14 that I had to deal with this. I can tell you that, in my case, because I was knowledgeable and because I guess I've had the opportunity to be a support for my kid, and it was hard because I was on a school board at the time. The toughest thing I ever did as a parent was to have to go through that process and have people telling you that your great hopes and expectations maybe will not happen for your child. There are ways to do it. It is intimidating and I was happy to hear that stated.

But the most important thing about that, after having gone through it for six or seven or eight years, is I'm not interested, as a parent, in the bureaucracy; I'm interested in how well my child is doing. I do appreciate being called in and being asked by the teacher in charge, and what I see is a total passing of the buck for these students. I had to pay somebody to go to school with my child so that there would be some continuity. Everybody can't do that. I went to work and gave my salary to somebody else. I'm saying this publicly because there is so little continuity. We have to change the way we deliver programs for individual children and their families. There has to be continuity. We were a very resourceful family with a lot of support in our community. I don't know how other parents do it. So it has to change.

The same old bureaucratic way of delivering programs and moving a child along the system with yet another teacher -- and the teachers, a lot of them, don't have the skills. But there are skills within the system and if there aren't we'd better have them, and I'll tell you, the one thing it takes is an energetic parent. I'm saying that for the record, getting it off, I suppose, my mind to an extent, but everything I've read supports our experience as a family. That's how I feel.

The IPRCs are fine. Do it once a year, communicate ahead of time, but the day-to-day communication is the most important thing, not that committee.

This bill was put in place because school boards refused to deal with special education students. They just wrote them off. And teachers today, many of them, are not qualified nor do they want to teach special education students and I don't think you can make people that don't want to do it, do it. By the way, it doesn't help that York stops programs; if our universities aren't going to provide the education for the teachers, how the heck can they get the knowledge? So that's that.


Madam Chairman, I'd like to take a different tack to my questioning, if that's all right.

I would ask the deputy, have you seen this paper, Some Contemporary Issues in Special Education? It's out of the Special Education in Ontario Schools. I thank the researcher, Anne Anderson, for bringing this to our attention. We don't all read the way we ought to because it's time-consuming, but I'm going to ask a couple of questions with regard to this. It would help if the deputy had a copy.

It's called Some Contemporary Issues in Special Education, and one of the subjects is integration mainstreaming. The research, as we read it, says that there's no answer. So for any government to move towards total integration wouldn't be correct. I'm just going to quote from this:

"Almost all educators agree that integration of exceptional students into regular classrooms is a desirable end. Where disagreement arises is just how" -- I underline -- "and to what extent" -- I underline -- "the desired end can be translated into reality."

This government, in my opinion and in the opinion of the public, is moving down the road of integration, and I'm wondering, from your point of view as an adviser to the government, their chief adviser, what would your advice be on integration, period?

Dr Pascal: Not having read the article, I have --

Mrs Cunningham: There's nothing secret. It just raises this issue.

Dr Pascal: No. Having heard the quotation, indeed there's nothing secret or nothing new about it. I would read in the record the same quotation or a paraphrasing of that quotation.

As a desired outcome, philosophically there's very little disagreement. The issue, of course, arises from the manner in which it's implemented. Governments will vary with respect to philosophically what they wish to do. Governments will vary with respect to how they take their philosophical point of view and interpret the research. The research, so to speak, in this area is very difficult and, if I might say, because of the nature of doing research in vivo -- that is, in real life with real people, with all sorts of variables that you try to control -- the research is by definition sloppy; not sloppy researchers, but very difficult research to come up with any conclusions that can be held up as the definitive piece of work that indicates that this method versus that method of implementation will work.

My advice would be to take a student-oriented approach, an individualized educational approach, to accept the desired outcome that everybody says has more advantages than not and to implement it in a very careful, individualized fashion. I have every expectation that this or any other government would do that; would not do anything that showed disinterest in an individual child who couldn't be well advantaged by the hopes of integration.

I accept the quotation, and our advice would be of course to always try to figure out a way that increases the probability that the greatest number of students in fact can benefit from integration, with supports from classroom assistants, mechanisms for peer teaching and innovations that we've yet to even dream of.

If you hold as a strong philosophical outcome that integration holds the greatest potential for the greatest number of children, then there will be a willingness and a way for innovating in a way that will increase the probability that most students -- not all, but most students -- will benefit from a process of integration. So that would characterize the kind of advice I would get.

I would also add, as I said earlier in response to an earlier question about the general area of special education and what's happening in the system right now, that the one area of greatest weakness, I think, in governments generally in terms of public policy and implementation is that once we've made a decision, once a government has decided on a new policy direction and the programs that arise from that policy direction, we need to bring together more resources to evaluate the consequences from a very rigorous research perspective. We don't do enough implementations research. The Provincial Auditor has noted that weakness in some of the areas we're discussing today.

Mrs Cunningham: I appreciate the answer and respect it and actually agree with it. Otherwise, I think what we're saying here is that, depending on the individual child, integration is anyone's goal, because that means they can go to school in their neighbourhoods and with their friends, but there will be times that can't happen. I can only say from my experience in special education over the years and now being a parent the integration model was appropriate for some time and wasn't for others. I think where school boards are successful they've got flexibility. The teachers have a whole lot more flexibility if the bureaucracies stay out of the way, and I'm going to get on to that point.

In the same article it says, "Teacher Responsibility Versus Bureaucracy and Tradition." It's on page 32. I only mean to go from this article because these are the issues in the schools, and isn't it interesting that we do have people writing about them and they're on the public agenda? People are pleading for policymakers to take a look at their concerns. So really what this says is that "Experience has taught that no matter how extensive the support available, students with special needs invariably require something extra from the teacher."

It goes on to talk about how teachers are able or not able to give that something extra. I'm going to underline this statement, and I'm now on page 33 at the top left-hand column, "Because special education is relatively new, and because it seems to attract a disproportionate amount of legalism, and because its implementation frequently incorporates a wider range of professionals and a greater degree of administrative activity than regular education," -- and I'm underlining this piece -- "the bureaucracy tends to be thicker, and often more regulatory and precise."

I think for a time in Ontario that was very necessary, because we had to get it up and going, we had to have some standards, we had to know what people's rights were, the whole bit. "The result is that teachers are often denied the autonomy to make decisions that realistically, can only be made ad hoc and onsite." Boy, I think that is one of the biggest problems. Teachers have come forward to the commission and said, "We have too much interference in our day-to-day role."

In fact, and this is the question, if we should move forward and all of the expectations should be set out by the ministry, the monitoring procedures should be there, all of that should be in place, how do we then, after all that's in place, get back to the teacher, see what it is that they really need and evaluate these programs and see that these students are successful if all of our efforts are going into setting up rules and more committees and more documents and revising handbooks? That should just be a matter-of-fact thing. The emphasis has to be on this, that teachers need time to do the job and that students should be making gains. What are you going to advise the system? How do we move forward?

Dr Pascal: This is an interesting article. I haven't been able to speed-read the entire article, but just on the same page from which Mrs Cunningham is quoting it goes on to say, "The issue is often exacerbated by the not-yet-completely-dead medical model tradition, wherein the teacher, despite his or her position on the front lines, is denied expert status and must frequently yield to decisions that are made far away from the classroom."

That runs at the heart of what Mrs Cunningham is concerned about. I don't think that we have to portray a system, although this may portray the reality for some teachers, where it's a dichotomy between having a provincial policy which has as its outcome integration for almost all students, holds it as a policy assumption that most students can benefit from integration; that this is antithetical to the involvement of teachers in understanding the assumptions behind that policy imperative and being involved in assisting the system in developing implementation plans for the policy and then on an experimental inductive basis feedback to the system what works and what doesn't work in terms of how the policy is implemented.

I think there has to be a far greater relationship between the teacher and her classroom expertise and experience and how the programs are modified as they go on in time. I accept the premise of that particular paragraph and Mrs Cunningham's line of questioning absolutely, but what we don't want to leave up to the happenstance of individual teachers or individual parents is the policy imperative as a whole. We don't want to have a system where we have lots of different interpretations that lead to a very grey interpretation of the provincial outcome and assumptions around integration that most children under certain circumstances can benefit from integration.


There are parents who, regardless of what experts have to say, simply say at one level, "Yes, we understand integration hypothetically is for others but not for my child." There are usually emotional reasons for holding that particular point of view and sometimes experiential reasons, and sometimes the parent as an expert needs to have more respect. But the provincial policy, I think, can rest with a very strong commitment at the provincial level and then lots of flexibility for teachers, as long as the flexibility doesn't allow for flexibility around the importance of the policy outcome, which is integration for most students.

Mrs Cunningham: I can only say that as a mother of a first grader, I was told that one of my children should go to a contained and segregated class for two years, along with seven or eight others. I did not want to do that, but I accepted the professional advice of the team that recommended it, as all parents are subjected to. It wasn't my instinct to go along with that. I was a young parent at the time. I can tell you right now, I am absolutely delighted that I took the advice of the experts, because they had programs in that particular school board that they had proven over a period of time worked. Special education is not new for many people. In that instance, it was the best thing because it happened to be -- you're probably not surprised, the experts in the room -- that eight of the nine students were little boys and there's good research on that. The habits and the one-to-one and the expertise -- we followed that class because they became my son's friends and, with one exception, they all finished their secondary education and I think six of them went on to universities. I think it's because of the focused attention of a teacher and a teacher's assistant for two years of their life at age 7 and age 8. There's lots of research that says that's a good program, and where school boards are showing success, surely the ministry isn't going to say that can't happen.

Dr Pascal: No. Obviously, the experience of not only a member of the committee but also a well-informed parent with experience is more important than anything I will say in response. But I think again, sometimes there's a bit of a false dichotomy between what we call "segregated" and what we call "integrated." An outstanding classroom teacher -- and we have thousands and thousands of outstanding classroom teachers in this province -- with proper support in the classroom can create the kind of individualization in the context of an integrated setting that your son was afforded in something called "segregated." I think we get involved in these "it's either this or either that," and I think the results can be the same and maybe with some value added in terms of some of the social achievement dimensions that can be part of integration.

Mrs Cunningham: I think I should add that the program wasn't total segregation. That class was by themselves in the morning and was integrated into other classrooms in the afternoons for other reasons.

As we learn more about learning disabilities and young children's inability to focus and the whole new research on seizures, we know that quads don't work for those kinds of students. We know they have to have very quiet environments. These children are being found every day in our classrooms and they're being ignored by educators. There is no way children with those kinds of specific learning disabilities, as opposed to learning problems, disabilities, that are so carefully diagnosed by the experts right now, can be dealt with in any kind of an integrated setting for a period of time. Somebody has to take the time and find out how they best learn, and there's lots going on.

I would just like to close by saying that in this same article it talks about the frustration around teachers not having the firsthand opportunity to communicate directly with assessors. It's another problem we have in this profession that's so important to the success of our young people and our country. I think Noel said yesterday that he had a frustration in this regard too on the assessments.

By the way, this happens to be what we picked up today. This is written every week of every month of every year, and has been. None of this is new. It happens to be Ontario and that's why I'm quoting from it.

Why is it that in school boards we still find that people who are doing the assessing are not talking to the teachers and the parents in spite of the system that's been set up? Why? How could that possibly happen in some school boards? By the way, I don't just get London issues; I get all of southwestern Ontario's, for reasons I won't go into today. We get it, and when we trace it back, pick up the phone, call the principal, stay out of it, because that's not our job, but get people talking, we find the professionals are not taking the time to talk to each other. Some teachers are denied the opportunity to talk to the psychologists, in spite of the system that's been set up. How could this be happening?

No wonder the auditor said we need some monitoring, but how are you going to find that through monitoring unless you take a look at the individual child? My only recommendation to you would be to take a look at that program for individual children, forget the rest and see if it's being followed. How can this happen?

Dr Pascal: The short answer is I don't know. If it does reflect not just Mrs Cunningham's experience but those with whom she stays in close contact, I would be personally quite concerned with the fact that it doesn't happen, not only the professionals who are non-classroom professionals and their relationship to teachers, which is absolutely in my mind essential in terms of developing the individualized plans to which I spoke. If that isn't happening, then what I said earlier is a dream rather than something that has to be part of the reality. So that would surprise me and be a cause for a lot of dismay.

Mrs Cunningham, you also point out there are concerns out there with respect to the relationship between those teachers and assessment experts who do come up with a plan, and giving that information back to parents. That's also a concern. The article that talks about the disempowerment that comes from classroom teachers and how they feel about those of us for example in the ministry, many kilometres or many thousands of kilometres away from their classrooms, also holds at another level for the manner in which parents have been kept in the dark by jargon, some of which I reinforce more often than I should from this chair.

Mrs Cunningham: You don't do that.

Dr Pascal: That also is a very serious issue, which is why of course the Ontario Parent Council set up by Mr Cooke is extremely important. The short answer is that if it is extant, as you've described it, it's a serious problem and we're going to have to figure out a way to be far more tough-minded and be seen to be tough-minded about closing that loop. Again, I will be shocked if it's common practice.

Mrs Cunningham: Just take a look, in the article, at "The Gap Between Assessment and Program." When I read it, I thought I only knew of one or two cases, but in listening to my colleagues, it's a common complaint.

The Vice-Chair: The auditor has a brief comment in reference to your question.

Mr Peters: Just a brief comment on the word "accountability." The way we're using it is not in terms of necessarily the processes. We are focusing on outcomes and we did focus on outcomes. That was the intent. The intent was really what is learned and what is happening in the classroom. It's the accountability for what is happening there. As a result of our own work and the interviews we had at the school boards, that is what we mean, to improve accountability. Unfortunately, that's one area where I potentially disagree with you. Once we focus on accountability in those terms, as to outcomes, I don't think it can be fixed in two weeks. There are many good points that you have made, but we have found out that it takes an awful lot of people to cooperate and it's a people issue that has to be turned around, it has to be turned around fast, but it will take more than two weeks.


Mrs Cunningham: The two-week comment wasn't with regard to the outcomes at all. The two-week comment was geared more to what the ministry was telling us it has to do in some monitoring, documentation work, which I think it's probably well into anyway. But maybe you could clarify that, not outcomes.

Dr Pascal: No. My notes in terms of marching orders that arise from this kind of dialogue have, under the issue of accountability, closing the loop in terms of the directions we give to boards as a result of their plans and finding out whether in fact those plans are in the process of being implemented with those adjustments. That's the vulnerable area that Mr Peters and his colleagues pointed out and that's the reference that I thought Mrs Cunningham was making.

I agree with her that two weeks may be a bit rushed --

Mrs Cunningham: I was exaggerating a bit.

Dr Pascal: -- but I agree with her that the kind of action that we can bring to bear on that particular issue --

Mrs Cunningham: Is fast.

Dr Pascal: -- is faster than some of the other areas.

Mr Peters: If I may just follow up, we are just in awe, and you, Dr Pascal, have agreed with us that while that is part of the process, the ultimate is still the focus on the outcomes, by everybody.

The Vice-Chair: Just before we adjourn for lunch, Mr Duignan has a request for information.

Mr Duignan: Would you be able to supply the committee with information in regard to what boards favour that exceptional students and special education be segregated from the main school body? What school boards integrate them and what school boards do a mixture of both? Do you have any information of which is the best system? Because I notice that you are encouraging greater integration of exceptional pupils into regular classrooms. I wonder why you reached that conclusion. Is there some information that that's the best system to go with?

Some $1.3 billion is spent on special education costs in any one school year. Do you have a breakdown on how that money is spent, for example, administration versus actually that money getting into the classroom and being spent on that pupil?

The Vice-Chair: Whatever information you can provide would be appreciated, Dr Pascal.

Dr Pascal: Just a clarifying question: Are you referring to the compensatory or the total amount of money?

Mr Duignan: I want the breakdown of what that money is spent on, and how much is spent on the administration versus how much money is actually spent on that pupil in the classroom.

Dr Pascal: The short answer to the last question is no. That's part of the issue of transparency or lack thereof in terms of education finance reform. It's built into the formula.

Mr Duignan: What you're saying is that you've no way of knowing that in fact $1.3 billion is actually spent on special education. You've no way of telling.

Mr Jim Doris: I am Jim Doris, education finance reform. The Provincial Auditor is quoting $1.3 billion as being spent. This raises the question of, what do we count as an expenditure in special education? Basically, we do know that $14.3 billion is being spent. We do know that most of this is going in salaries and benefits. In other words, total compensation makes up over 80% of that $14.3 billion. We do know that most of it is going to the classroom.

If you're asking the question, though, "Out of the $1.3 billion, explain to us how much of that was teachers and how much was teachers' aides and how much was paraprofessionals of different varieties," we really don't have a good handle on that. We can talk about these general categories and say that it is labour intensive. We can tell you how many interpreters there are out there in Ontario. We can give you gross numbers like this, but it's very difficult for us, under the current funding approach that we have in Ontario, to be quite accurate about how much is actually being spent on any one particular program.

The Vice-Chair: Perhaps that's something we can explore when we come back this afternoon, Mr Duignan.

Mr Duignan: Unfortunately, I won't be here this afternoon, but I certainly will explore it a little further tomorrow.

The Vice-Chair: Maybe tomorrow morning, then.

Mr Duignan: Because it appears to me there's absolutely no accountability of that $1.3 billion. There's no accountability in the system that this money is actually spent on special education. You just admitted that.

Mr Doris: We know what the province is spending on special education. We know that school boards are spending more because, remember, of the $14 billion, $8 billion of that is coming from the property tax raised at the local level and $6 billion is coming from the consolidated revenue fund. As a staff person, I'm convinced that the money we say is going on special ed is going on special ed, but if you ask, "Well, prove in what areas it's going or break this down as to categories," that unfortunately at the moment we're not able to do. Education finance reform does intend address the very question, though, that you are raising.

The Vice-Chair: The auditor will have the last word, a very brief one just before we adjourn.

Mr Callahan: He always has the last word.

The Vice-Chair: He has the only word.

Mr Peters: That's not why it's done. It is just to help out a little bit on the resource as to how we provided this number and to be helpful. We provided it actually by taking the school boards' financial statements and adding up what the school boards had said they were spending on special education. That's how this number was developed and we are adding a little bit of fringe benefit there too into the formula. That's where we came from.

But as we pointed out before, we do not have the right to audit school boards, so we took all the numbers at face value as they reported them.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you. The standing committee on public accounts stands adjourned until 2 o'clock.

The committee recessed from 1206 to 1407.

The Acting Chair (Mr Robert V. Callahan): I declare the afternoon meeting in session. As you may recall, we left this morning with the government asking questions, and we're going to go in 25-minute rotations: 25 minutes for the government, 25 minutes for the official opposition, 25 minutes for the PCs. I have Mr Malkowski, Ms Akande and Ms Haeck.

Mr Malkowski: Charles Pascal presented this morning, and I really appreciate the information presented. There seemed to be a recognition of the difficulties that arose from the Provincial Auditor's report. It identified some areas where we can be more efficient with information and more cost-effective in what we do. The information was very straightforward. We recognize that the Ministry of Education and Training has just gone through a restructuring process and that there is the Royal Commission on Learning that is taking responsibility for the accountability issue. I think that shows that the ministry is on the right track.

I'd like to share a little of my own experience. I used to work as a vocational rehab counsellor, and a lot of my constituents are parents who have disabled children, but also disabled consumers and others within the special education field have talked to me about a huge concern they have: assessment quality and support services. That's one issue identified. Another issue is the IPRC process. These two I think are of the greatest concern. What they're concerned about is cost-effectiveness and also how that impacts on the quality of education that's delivered to the children.

I have two questions I'd like to ask. Is there any thought being given at the ministry to development of a mechanism whereby disabled consumers as a group, who have already gone through the educational system and already been through the special education experiences, can be involved in developing guidelines? When you talk about stakeholders, I think you're missing that group; you talk about parents and professionals. I'm just wondering if they could be included, because they could have valuable input into special education teacher training. For example, in terms of education for the deaf and hard-of-hearing or for the blind or for the developmentally delayed, there are experts in different fields who could help the boards develop curriculum that could help identify needs that are necessary in that field.

In terms of the ministry and the school boards, I'm wondering if there's any kind of mechanism for statistical data collection specifically for disabled students who need support services; there may be other disabled students who do not need support services. This information would help the ministry be more effective, because they would use this information, plus the recommendations from the Provincial Auditor, to monitor the system and monitor the whole field of special education.

Dr Pascal: First of all, on the issue of involvement of stakeholders who can in an autobiographical way understand the issues at play, I agree entirely with Mr Malkowski that more and more challenged individuals in the special-needs areas need to be involved in developing provincial policy.

To the best of my knowledge, in my limited experience since I've been in the ministry, individuals with special challenges do sit on the minister's advisory committee on special education. As a matter of fact, I believe the vice-principal of the E.C. Drury school is on that committee, and she is deaf.

With respect to the special education advisory committees at the board level, I'll need some help from my colleagues in terms of tapping their experience. I know there are individuals representing advocacy groups on those SEACs. Whether or not they ensure that there's the kind of representation Mr Malkowski has indicated, I do not know. I want to yield to Peter Ferren to see if at that level there's that kind of involvement.

Mr Ferren: Generally, the composition of the special education advisory committees at the school board level consists of representatives of the parent associations, who usually are what we class as advocates for people with disabilities rather than consumers.

Dr Pascal: With respect to the second question, which has to do with the development and analysis of statistics -- that is, different children with different presenting needs and what's happening to those children -- the short answer is that those type of data are, I believe, supposed to be imbedded in the annual reports that are submitted to the ministry. Again, at question here is what happens as a result of those reports in terms of the accountability issues we discussed this morning. But again I'll ask Peter to add to what I've said.

Mr Ferren: If I understand Charles correctly, and I hope I'm addressing the issue here, we don't collect data on the basis of specific disabilities but rather on categories of exceptionalities, and that would be under the behavioural classification, communication, pupils with physical disabilities and multiple disabilities.

Dr Pascal: I do have a table which appears to be a sample summary of the kind of data that are part of the annual reports; I can show Mr Malkowski this and table this as an example. The question I can't answer and that I think is at the heart of Mr Malkowski's question is, what do we do with these data once we collect them? I think that probably is an issue in terms of how we feed it back to the system and how we act on some of the information we gather.

Mr Malkowski: As a supplementary, it seems that the ministry doesn't have a system for collecting specific information on students with disabilities who require support services; those who need the support services, because there are disabled students who do not require support services. The statistical numbers seem to overestimate the need for support services. What we really need are accurate numbers for those who require the support and then know those who need it and those who don't.

Mr Ferren: Collected in statistical data, in addition to the information I already mentioned, we have through the September reports submitted annually by school boards the list of the various types of professional staff available to support the needs of exceptional pupils. But we do not collect it in the manner Mr Malkowski requested. We could take that under advisement.

Ms Zanana L. Akande (St Andrew-St Patrick): Thank you for the opportunity to ask these questions; there are so many of them. Let me say first of all that while we're focusing on special education, there seems to be and continues to be a feeling, almost an assumption, that if we consult enough and do enough studies and have enough committees that form partnerships with other groups and consortia, that inherently will solve the problem. Let me say that my experience in education has not proven that to be true, because the critical link is between what happens at the ministry and what filters down through the region to the boards and therefore affects the child. So my questions will be focused on what happens or does not happen at the school level.

You mentioned earlier the fact that there were boards where assessment for students who had special difficulties, special-ed students, was different from other boards', that the assessment protocols, the things included within the assessment for the IPRC, were dissimilar. I'm interested in that and wondering if the ministry's original recommendations about what that assessment should include no longer prevail. When I say "original," I mean that when Bill 82 was introduced there were recommendations about what the assessment protocol for the identification of IPRC students should include. Does that no longer stand?


Dr Pascal: Let me ask Peter to respond to the second part of the question. I must say, I don't recall any member from the ministry staff indicating that the criteria varied on IPRC process from school board to school board, but Peter I think can deal with the second part.

Ms Akande: It had been suggested by Mrs Cunningham and it was not corrected or denied or responded to by the ministry.

Dr Pascal: What I recall Mrs Cunningham raising quite explicitly and importantly was the issue of assessments results and the results of those assessments being made available to classroom teachers for the purposes of developing individualized programs.

Ms Akande: And teachers being omitted from the gathering of information towards that assessment.

Dr Pascal: That's right, and as I said, if that is in fact extant within the system in any major way, that's a serious problem, as is the issue that information gathered by the assessment people, even when it is shared with teachers, is not being shared with parents. Again, if that's a problem out there in any major amount in terms of frequency, that's a problem, but the issue you raised had to do, I thought, with inconsistency in terms of the IPRC process.

Ms Akande: Inconsistency in terms of the recommendation of what is included as a part of the assessment for the IPRC.

The Chair: Mr Malkowski had a short supplementary.

Ms Akande: In the middle of my question, Mr Chair?

The Chair: I thought there was a pause there.

Ms Akande: No, there wasn't.

Mr Malkowski: Put my name on the list.

The Chair: Sorry; please continue.

Mr Ferren: What is required for the assessment of the child through regulation 305, the identification, placement and review committees and appeal process, is that the IPRC is required to consider an educational assessment of the child, and if that committee determines that a psychological and/or medical assessment is necessary to help the committee identify the child as exceptional or not, then parental consent must be provided for that. That has not changed since regulation 305 was passed.

Ms Akande: There was also a recommendation made about what that educational assessment should include. It was very specific. It said it should include discussion with the parent, it should include discussion with the regular classroom teacher, it should include an assessment in the basic areas of language and mathematics to determine a grade point, and it should include a discussion with medical services or, if not, a public health nurse or anyone in a health-related way who had had some general information or contact with the child. That was the educational assessment part and it had specific recommendations. They were only recommendations. Have they been removed or are they ignored or what?

Mr Ferren: No, they are still in force, and I'll go back and repeat what the deputy said in relation to the consultation between the professionals and the parent and the teacher, that if that doesn't happen, certainly it's unfortunate, because it should happen.

Ms Akande: If it should happen and the ministry still recommends it, is there some consideration given to the ministry making it mandatory and therefore providing an opportunity for the regional offices to monitor whether boards were doing it?

Mr Ferren: My suggestion would be that we take that recommendation under advisement and that it be considered in the review of the IPRC process that the advisory council is currently in the process of undertaking, and that it also could be incorporated into the revision to the IPRC monograph. The special education advisory council has just reviewed that monograph; they just completed that review and it's just going out for a brief consultation right now, so that could be taken under advisement.

Ms Akande: One of the things that is part of Mr Weber's material, but is discussion that has been repeated in many, many articles, is the consideration of how assessment is done when we are looking at poor and/or culturally different children to ensure that the results achieved are a response to the pupils having a special education need rather than a response to their cultural differentness, their language difficulties, their impoverished experiences. What, if anything, is the ministry considering as a recommendation to make some kind of difference, and standard difference, in terms of what schools and boards must respond to relative to that problem?

Dr Pascal: To the best of my knowledge, I'm not sure we are doing anything that conforms to the intent of Mrs Akande's question.

Ms Akande: Are you intending to?

Dr Pascal: The way you framed the question is quite appropriate and we should evaluate the possibility. At the moment you asked the question, the answer was no. At the conclusion of your question, the answer is probably.

Ms Akande: Would it then be appropriate for this committee to make a recommendation or a suggestion -- something greater than a suggestion -- about the inclusion of something which would influence that kind of assessment?

The Chair: We have a tendency on this committee to make a number of recommendations about whatever we're looking at. But of course, at the end of the day, when we write a report, if the committee decides to do that, we can make any number of recommendations.

Ms Akande: May I ask at least one more?

The Chair: I have Ms Haeck on the list.

Ms Akande: We do have time.

The Chair: Not really. We have five minutes.

Ms Haeck: I'll give my time to Mrs Akande at this point, if you want to put me on for a later time.

Ms Akande: Okay. I wanted to ask about compensatory education. It was certainly something that was addressed in the auditor's report; it's something you've included here. Compensatory education is those kinds of grants which are given for the very students I was talking about. Boards identify the need on the basis of criteria: you know, the amount of government housing, single-parent families, all those things we associate -- sometimes wrongly, but nevertheless we associate -- with poverty.

Recognizing that those grants are given in relation to those identified needs for "poor" children, if I can use that basic terminology, or for areas where that is identified as a need, has the ministry planned or intended in some way to ensure that the grants achieved through the identification of that need are used in the schools that have identified the problem?

Dr Pascal: This is another good question and a good example of the issue of accountability and transparency in terms of the money that goes into the system and what it's spent for, what issues and specifics are related to each expenditure. I'll ask Jim Doris, who's the team leader on education finance reform, to answer the question.

Mr James Doris: At the moment, the province contributes about $90 million a year to roughly half the boards in the province -- in other words, you have to be above the median in these four categories Ms Akande has mentioned -- recognizing the boards, especially the boards here in Metro because over half of the money really is going here in Metro, that have extra costs because of the poverty situation. In other words, the boards are identified in terms of communities with public housing, for example, income under $10,000 etc.


Under education finance reform, first of all we're identifying whether these are the right variables, because I think a case can be made that we should be changing our variables; and second, to address the question you have raised, that how do we make sure the money, the $90 million or whatever figure it turns out to be, is in fact going to those schools? The money here in Metro certainly is going, because money that goes to the Metro board has a very elaborate formula, through Dr Ted Harvey, and we have worked with Dr Harvey ourselves, to allocate money to individual schools in the Metro system.

Ms Akande: Who will and how will you decide on the variables?

Mr Doris: There are different options, and it will go to cabinet.

Ms Akande: Who's going to decide?

Mr Doris: I'm assuming that in the end cabinet would decide.

Mr Tim Murphy (St George-St David): So you might have some influence.

Ms Dianne Poole (Eglinton): I have a number of questions for the ministry. I'd like to start out with some time frames.

This morning we talked about the auditor's recommendation concerning guidelines for programs and services. There was an indication that work on this had begun and an initial meeting had been held and that the group would be meeting once a month until some guidelines were developed. There doesn't seem to me to be any great urgency about developing these guidelines if they're just meeting once a month. Could you perhaps refresh my memory? Has the ministry has been working on guidelines in the past and this is simply putting things together in a cohesive manner, or when do you expect to have these guidelines developed?

Mr Ferren: First of all, we do not have guidelines for the delivery of those programs and services, as the auditor's report has pointed out, and we have not spent previous time developing them. It is true, yes, we are just in the initial stages of that and I'm not sure of the time it will take, but we're probably talking in terms of a year, by the end of the year, when we take into consideration that when you do draft guidelines, there will be opportunities for the various partners to be consulted and provide their reaction to them.

Ms Poole: When you estimate a year to develop the guidelines, I'm assuming that wouldn't include the communication out to all of the boards of education and to the SEACs, to the various advocacy groups about the guideline changes,so that they're all informed. That would have to take place after the ministry has reached that final decision. So would we be looking at closer to a year and a half or even longer by the time these guidelines are actually being implemented?

Mr Ferren: I'll refer back to my previous comments. I'm really not sure of the time line. I estimated that by the end of the year we should be in a position to complete the process. It might take longer than that.

Ms Poole: Would it be your intention that once these guidelines are developed, regional office staff would monitor the programs and services provided by school boards?

Mr Ferren: That is one of the elements that we would anticipate.

Ms Poole: Which I think is a bureaucratic way of saying yes?

Mr Ferren: Yes.

Ms Poole: Thank you. You mentioned that you were going to be consulting as you formulate these guidelines. Could you tell us the composition of this committee? Does it include various interest groups or is it an internal ministry committee at this stage?

Mr Ferren: At this stage it is an internal committee of the Ministry of Education and Training.

Ms Poole: I'd like to go on to one other time frame, and that relates to the hard-to-serve category, which, as Dr Pascal said, was removed via Bill 4. You mentioned that you had regulations under development in this regard. It's been some months since Bill 4 passed.

Mr Ferren: The end of July.

Ms Poole: Yes. I remember sitting at that time. How long do you think it will take you to complete the development of the regulations?

Mr Ferren: My understanding at this stage is that the regulation is likely to be drafted by the end of February. When that regulation goes out for consultation, we can anticipate a minimum of four months. That is what the teacher federations, the school boards and the different associations usually ask the ministry for when a consultation document is sent out. By the end of the current school year or close to the end of the school year, we should be in a position to finalize that regulation.

Ms Poole: But my understanding from what you mentioned earlier is that you are actually dealing with the problem now in the interim, even without the regulation in place; that you are placing children now.

Mr Ferren: That is right. We're dealing with it now through the existing Provincial Committee on Learning Disabilities. That was the vehicle through which we dealt with the admission of the nine additional pupils to the demonstration school.

Ms Poole: The other area I'd like to touch on which was developed this morning is the whole topic of integration. I think we had quite a full discussion of how disparate the views are of those who favour full integration of every single child in the school system and those who believe it should be a partial system, where in many cases it's possible to integrate the child but in some cases there are valid reasons not to.

Dr Pascal used the words that integration was desirable and was effective with proper help in the classroom. I think the last phrase "with proper help in the classroom" was the key point to which I'd like to refer.

My concern is that the dollars are shrinking, not only with the social contract and the expenditure control plan but generally with boards of education trying to reduce expenditures. There may well be future pressures on the system that are even worse than we're experiencing today. I'm concerned about going to a full integration policy if the resources are not there in the classroom to make sure that the child's needs are being met. Have you looked at this whole area of resources and come up with any minimum standards of what is required if you are going to have this kind of integration in the classroom?

Dr Pascal: The possibilities are many with respect to what kind of support systems should be in place. One of the criticisms by the Provincial Auditor, and I accept the criticism, is that we haven't done enough best-practice evaluation in terms of the possibilities. There is no doubt that what Ms Poole has said about the resource issue is very much at play. Fourteen billion dollars is a lot of money in terms of public expenditure. It's among the highest in any jurisdiction in North America in terms of money into the system. In order to redress the challenges we're discussing today, we're obviously looking at reinvestment, taking the dollars we have right now and ensuring that most of the money goes into the classroom.

The different ways in which students can be assisted, not just through specialized resources but by peer involvement, are manyfold. Again, we need to be creative and innovative, celebrate those successes that are out there in the province and increase the probability that more of it happens.

It is going to be a challenge to do this within the economic envelope we have, with the fiscal pressures we face, but the solution is to be found in reinvestment of the dollars that are in the system.


I want to call attention to this, without reading it and take up the time for members' questions and comments. I remain grateful to Mrs Cunningham for the homework she assigned me during lunch, which I'll complete overnight, and that's Ken Weber's Special Education in Ontario Schools. I don't know how much of this was made available to the committee, but from page 128 for about 10 pages, there is a compendium of ideas around practical elements of successful integration. It talks about the research in support of integration and all the social achievement benefits to be found from integration. It also talks about what needs to happen in terms of cost-effective innovations to provide successful experimentation. It also talks about what's necessary for those kids for whom full integration is simply not going to be appropriate. So I commend to you other parts of this book if in fact you only received one of its chapters or articles.

Ms Poole: Mr Chair, could we ask research to provide us with a copy of those pages to which Dr Pascal refers?

The Chair: Certainly.

Mr Callahan: I'd like to deal specifically with Correctional Services, because I understand there's a component of financial assistance for young people or not-so-young people who perhaps have a learning disability that might or might not be identified. We understand there are funds made available to school boards for assistance to people who are learning-disabled and also that part of those funds are available for corrections. First, how is the amount determined for each school board? Is it based on population, per capita?

Dr Pascal: Yes.

Mr Callahan: Is there any set formula for how much of that money is available as an envelope for assistance for people in correctional facilities?

Dr Pascal: I'll ask Jim Doris to respond.

Mr Doris: Section 27 is a euphemism for a situation where a school board provides an education program in a psychiatric facility, a correctional institution, Sick Children's Hospital. Basically, the board provides the teacher and the province pays. It's 100% salary and we pay, on top of that, $2,500 for administrative overhead the board would have for equipment for the student, that kind of thing. On top of that, we pay 100% for teachers' aides.

Mr Callahan: Is there a component in this as well for the assessment of these people to determine whether they have a learning disability, or is that done through another ministry?

Mr Doris: I'm not able to answer that question on the assessment.

Mr Callahan: I know from experience that in school boards they have either on staff or on a contract basis a psychologist who will assess young people if it's brought to their attention by the teacher or by the parent or whatever. If corrections does nothing more than get a seconded teacher to come to the correctional facility, how do you identify those people as having that problem?

I maintain, and I know this is perhaps naïve, that if it were possible to assess those people coming into the correctional milieu who could be identified, I guess visually, as having a problem, or perhaps through reports from a probation officer or from the judge, if those people could be assessed, I suspect you might very well find that the money you spend on having them come back as recidivists would be saved. That's on the dollar side. On the other side, the human side, these people really are being trashed as a result of not having that type of system in place.

Dr Pascal: With respect to the care and treatment side of things, it's an IPRC process in terms of assessment.

With respect to corrections, I don't know the answer. As part of our discussion this morning with Mr Callahan, I indicated that I would find out what's at play when we have people of various ages, young offenders, who come into a section 27 classroom. I haven't read as much research as I should have since I came into government a number of years ago, but I'm sure I've read in the past a couple of studies that talk about the correlation among and between individuals who are committing certain offences and have learning disabilities. Your intuition I think is probably grounded in more than a couple of research studies.

Regardless, I need to find out to give you a more complete answer about what we do with individuals who come in and out of section 27 classes in a very transient fashion. They're not there very long. That's one of the issues at play. But I can't give you the kind of answer you deserve and would be pleased to do so tomorrow morning at the very latest.

Mr Callahan: Fine.

Mr Murphy: Maybe I'll follow up on Mr Callahan's point, and as you're doing some research, I'll add to it. Mine's more related to the compliance issue and follow-up and checking. To a certain degree, the absence of an answer to the questions Mr Callahan posed probably suggests a gap, although it may not exist; I don't know. But there is a question, I suppose.

The province funds through a teacher seconded by the school board to the facility. I'm just wondering how the payment works. Do you get a report back from the school or do you get a request for payment? How does that work?

Mr Doris: Basically, there's a written agreement between the school board and the institution we're talking about. That written agreement goes to the regional office so that the ministry ends up having to "approve" the program that is to be funded.

Mr Murphy: Does the regional office have any procedures to test the quality of the service to ensure that it's adequate, that it's appropriate?

Mr Doris: I'm not in a good position, quite frankly, to answer the question, but I believe the approval process obviously insists that the board demonstrate that the teacher has proper qualifications etc.

Mr Murphy: That would certainly be our hope. Is there someone there who --

Mr Doris: If you're asking whether the regional office does an onsite visit, I think it doesn't happen very often, but it does happen on a three-year schedule or something like that.

Dr Pascal: Madam Chair, someone from our regional office may be able to shed light on the regional office involvement: Mariette Carrier-Fraser, assistant deputy minister.

Mrs Mariette Carrier-Fraser: As far as section 27s and regional office involvement is concerned, it depends on the regions and the needs of the boards we work with etc. For instance, dealing with the region I came from in northern Ontario, the northeastern regional office in North Bay, any section 27 that involved Community and Social Services -- because Education would finance the educational side of things, such as the teacher's salary -- if it was for care and treatment, unless there was an agreement by Community and Social Services to provide the support services and we agreed on a certain percentage, the percentage of time was negotiated between the board, the regional office and Community and Social Services or the agency. That would be the type of approach, and then approval would be given for funding to flow for a section 27 type of thing. Those were some of the arrangements that were made in some of the specific offices in the north.

Mr Murphy: That's an umbrella agreement and then you fund on an as-needed basis under the umbrella agreement?

Mrs Carrier-Fraser: Yes, based on needs, and a needs analysis is done. I know for a fact, for instance in the northeastern office and in some of the other regional offices also, a site visit was done last year to all the sites that had section 27s to ensure that services were provided etc. Ron has had experience in other --

Mr Murphy: How often was the site visit?

Mrs Carrier-Fraser: It depends on the needs and the number of sections you might have. I know for that specific region that all sites were visited last year before funding was granted for the following year.


Mr Murphy: Is that because you were the regional director, or is that the policy for all regions?

Mrs Carrier-Fraser: No.

Mr Murphy: Well, I worked with Mariette many years ago, so I know how good she is.

The Vice-Chair: Was there an additional response?

Mr Ron Mason: I was just going to comment on the central region, where the vast majority of section 27 programs are. I would make a distinction between a site visit and a formal monitoring or auditing of the program. What we have done in our regional office is to identify, at the time of renewals or new agreements, those programs that will require a formal audit. That's a much more thorough look at what's being delivered. The others are visits to really take a look and see that what they said in their agreement is in fact happening. So there are two levels.

Mr Murphy: Sort of the difference between a drive-by inspection and a --

Mr Mason: That's right.

Dr Pascal: Madam Chair, that was Ron Mason.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you for the belated identification. We'll now go to the Conservative caucus.

Mrs Cunningham: Mr Mason just uttered an interesting word. I think he said "audit," so the fact is that there are program audits done in section 27 schools. Good.

I'm moving on to three questions, all directly related to the auditor's findings and the responses of the ministry. The first question I have for the deputy is in relation to the special education advisory committees. The auditor pointed out to us in his observations that some of the committees varied in their extent of involvement and awareness.

The Provincial Auditor recommended that to ensure that all the special education advisory committees serve the role intended, the ministry should determine best practices for SEACs and ensure that these are communicated to school boards and SEAC members. If these correspond to the guidance provided by the provincial parents' association handbook for members of special education advisory committees, the ministry should consider overseeing the distribution of the handbook to boards and SEACs.

When I think, in today's world, of the real challenges in our schools and the necessity for programs that assist these young people to become useful and meaningful and proud members of our society, I have to tell you that if we can't get a book to a member of a committee without the ministry getting involved, just by distributing to school boards where we're spending billions of dollars on education, we have real problems.

Quite frankly, I thought the response from the ministry was very weak. I would have been so apologetic to think that there are school boards that have SEAC committees where they have not got their handbooks. It just blows my mind. I can't believe it. Maybe you could let us know that things aren't all that bad, or maybe that they're worse than they sound. I have no idea. We dealt with this five years ago.

Dr Pascal: If I may, for better or for worse, Hansard will record this as a statement and I will record it in my diary tomorrow morning as a confession. In reviewing for about the 15th time the auditor's reports and, along with Mr Peters and his colleagues' reports, the ministry's response, I will confess to Mrs Cunningham that no entry under the guise of our response to the auditor's report left me with a more disquieting feeling last evening when I looked at it once more than this particular item. It is an inappropriate level of response. It's a very weak response on the part of the ministry, and you're looking at the person who should take the fall for that incomplete response. It made me uncomfortable as well, Mrs Cunningham, to look at the updating and distribution of a handbook by itself as our response to some very difficult questions around the role of that committee.

I agree with what you said this morning, quite frankly, about the need for tougher-minded, people-oriented training. These are issues of not just communications and having a handbook so that we can say, "We have a handbook and we updated it and that's all we have to do." It is our responsibility to make sure the contents of that handbook are understood by the people who sit around that table. Although the response we gave was part of the answer, it was an incomplete answer, and I'm not comfortable.

I'm pleased, in fact, that you've raised it so I can indicate that I think we have to go further. I think we have to go further on two levels.

One, I think there's a training issue there in terms of what happens when members come and go from the committee. By the way, when I say training in terms of members going, I think there's some expertise in terms of exit interviews that could be quite valuable when members leave, with regard to the value they can provide the members staying and the members coming. I think we can do far more in that regard.

There's another level, and that is what the committee does. Once we have a more functioning committee across the board -- I'm not suggesting, and neither did the Provincial Auditor, that all these committees are dysfunctional. They're not. Many of them were working quite well. We need to understand the difference between those that are working well and those that aren't through better intervention and better research.

But we also need to consider, as part of future regulatory change, the roles and responsibilities of those committees not just in establishing plans but what is the responsibility in evaluating the implementation of those plans and where are the teeth in that regard? I think, although this wasn't explicitly referred to in either your comments or even the Provincial Auditor's report, more could be done in that regard.

Although it's somewhat embarrassing to be called accountable for something I signed off on and that technically and legally I wrote, so be it. That's the purpose of this committee.

Mrs Cunningham: I said at the beginning I thought we had a good relationship in trying to come forward with some solutions today, and I thank you for your frank answer. It doesn't surprise me. We can make tremendous gains by working together in our honest approaches.

I would say that the same kind of thoughts crossed my mind as I read the auditor's report on defining exceptionalities. Here's an auditor who goes out into the professional community in Ontario, with one of the best education systems, I think, in the world. We're always looking for ways of improving, but people look to us in Ontario as leaders in special education, in spite of the criticisms we have today. We have all kinds of experts out there who are called to many of the American states and to Europe to give evidence around best practices and what not, and we can't get together and define exceptionalities?

I'll tell you, during my personal experience as a mother, I was so fed up with all that terminology. The child was head-injured. That label was all that had to happen to just get on with it. I didn't care what the label was. It worked, by the way. Luckily, the people who were working with our child didn't care either, but the ministry sure cared, because it had to pay under a different category or something. It was nonsense. It's got to be unwound. That's my comment there.


I'd like to move into another area. Could I ask the deputy to take a look at the special education document that was prepared by the researcher, Anne Anderson? There are a number of questions in italics under each category. I think it would be counterproductive to try to answer those right now. It's just more homework. You don't have to do it right now.

The Vice-Chair: Would this be a document that Dr Pascal has?

Mrs Cunningham: He may have it.

Dr Pascal: No, I don't have it.

Mrs Cunningham: It's terrific. You should use legislative research more frequently.

Dr Pascal: I will read it as soon as I finish Weber, between 1 and 3 am this morning.

Mrs Cunningham: There you go. This is what we do to inform ourselves, and you're welcome. It's a public service.

Dr Pascal: There's not enough homework being handed out in the province, and we know that.

The Vice-Chair: Mrs Cunningham obviously thinks the ministry, up to the highest level, is underworked and requires more homework.

Mrs Cunningham: No, I really don't. Do you know why I'm saying it and I'm using my sense of humour about it? There's so much to learn and there just isn't enough time. In getting ready for this committee, it's the practice that legislative research from time to time shows a lot of leadership and prepares us with questions. I'd like to put the document on record so you can get it, and do you know what I really think would be helpful?

Mr Callahan: Those are our crib sheets.

Mrs Cunningham: Well, it's a public document. If the public pay for it, I give it to everybody, so be very careful what you give me. That's the way it works with me.

The point is, if you or your staff take a look at it and can answer these questions, I think it would be really helpful, because there's not enough time in the committee to really get thoughtful answers. Perhaps you could respond in writing to the questions in italics; not yourself, but maybe some of your helpers.

Dr Pascal: Are these essay questions or multiple choice?

Mrs Cunningham: I don't think your helpers would let you answer all these questions yourself.

Dr Pascal: I have 2,800 colleagues who will ensure that I'm not allowed to answer them myself, but I would be very pleased --

Mrs Cunningham: I think all of us would learn a lot.

Dr Pascal: Whatever the committee decides, we will be very pleased to do.

Mrs Cunningham: If we could get the answers, I think they're very specific questions, and they could be very specific. I don't think any of us is looking for somebody to spend hours and hours. In the next two days, we just don't have time.

Mr Callahan: Twenty-five words or less. I have a short attention span.

The Vice-Chair: Mrs Cunningham, what I might suggest is that when we're finished our hearing process, we could have our researcher itemize the outstanding questions, because many of the questions are asked in one form or another by members as we go through.

Mrs Cunningham: As you did earlier today and I'm about to now. My second question, other than process, and it's right from the report, is under "Special Education Teacher Training," where the auditor made the observation that while the majority of teachers of special education classes held special education certificates, most teachers with both regular and exceptional pupils had not taken certificate courses in special education.

I won't editorialize on that because there's so much to say about it, but the auditor recommended that "the ministry should review requirements for special education training and support to ensure that boards can meet the needs of exceptional pupils," I think so they'll have enough teachers too, as I don't think there ever has been a class that hasn't had some kind of exceptional pupil. There wouldn't be a teacher who doesn't say there isn't an exceptional pupil in their class, in the past and in the future. All of us have special exceptionalities, and I think it's all part of a teacher's education. But teacher education is something for another month.

The ministry responded here, "The Ministry of Education and Training will be reviewing requirements for special education training and support." I just find "will be" objectionable. I would rather have had a report on what had been done. So here's the question: Has the ministry finished its review of special education training and support and what are the results to date, and when does the ministry plan to implement any changes to pre-service teacher education for special education? You don't have to answer it today, but it's very important.

Mr Murphy: I had the same question.

Mrs Cunningham: Well, you've got the same document.

Mr Murphy: That's probably why.

The Vice-Chair: Would you like to make a preliminary answer now?

Dr Pascal: The short answer to the first part of the question is no, it's not complete, but what I would like to do is ask for half a day to put together a status report with respect to what's been done and what hasn't been done.

Mrs Cunningham: Okay. The final one, Madam Chair, if I still have a couple of minutes?

The Vice-Chair: Yes, you still have about four minutes.

Mrs Cunningham: Okay. "Evaluating Programs, Services, and Costs." This is another heading of the audit, where the Provincial Auditor says, "To ensure that the ministry can fulfil its legislated requirement to ensure that all exceptional children have available to them appropriate special education programs and services" and then there's a whole list of things that he recommended happen.

Really, I think the essence of this one is that there are a lot of good programs in Ontario, and there are so many of us who know about them. Not only are they referred to sometimes in the handbook the parents get, but they're obviously referred to by teachers in their own professional development, in-services, and hopefully by administrators in special education departments of school boards so that we can get our teachers out looking around, and I don't mean on PD days, but that's my personal bias.

My question is this: What studies and information has the ministry obtained concerning the relative cost-effectiveness of the various special education programs and services? These will be in the Hansards. What are the implications of the results on the needs of exceptional students, resources required and the ability of the ministry to fulfil its legislative mandate? These are in response to what the ministry said. Have the results of the studies and analyses been distributed to all school boards, and are they reflected in any ministry guidelines for providing services? I'll give you this piece of paper; don't try to write it down. How will an increased emphasis on integration affect the teachers' ability to meet the needs of both exceptional and regular students? That's a key question. We talked about that this morning just a little bit; it's the teacher who has to balance her time. What are the implications for costs and the extent of services provided?

It's a long one, I know, Dr Pascal, but it does relate to your own response. It infers that these things are happening, and I hope they are. Perhaps that's another one you can give some time to.

Dr Pascal: Thank you very much. We'd be very pleased to respond, if you'll give us that, Dianne.

The Vice-Chair: You still have a few minutes left, Mrs Cunningham.

Mrs Cunningham: I do? That's unusual. Let's go back to the beginning then with regard to the special education teacher training, and perhaps I can just reflect back on teacher training in general. Perhaps the deputy can give us an overview of some of the issues that they're talking about in the ministry, because in Ontario this has been on the public agenda for probably the last 20 years. Some of us in this province date ourselves when we talk about the teacher education we received in the late 1950s, early 1960s. Some of us are absolutely shocked that very little has changed, in our view, in the area of teacher education.

I think we're proud in Ontario to say that we still attract the best people to our school systems because we think it's an important job, and we have those good people in our colleges. But there is so much criticism about teacher education in Ontario in general. In the curriculum document, when we get there tomorrow, we'll talk about training technical education teachers, which I think we should be going to the private sector and having teachers supervise programs and somebody else teaching the kids, but we can get to that down the road.

Special education is another problem because teachers do change their minds about who they want to teach and what they want to teach over a period of years, and I think that's good. So what initiatives are there within the ministry now to address this whole teacher education area?

Dr Pascal: I'll try to be very brief today, recognizing that we're going to explore this in some detail over the next couple of days. First of all, as Mrs Cunningham has suggested, the amount of studying and the differences of opinion around teacher education have a very long and interesting legacy. The Teacher Education Council, Ontario, has generated many reports, all of which are being evaluated by the ministry and all of which have been sent to the Royal Commission on Learning, because teacher education forms a major part of the commission's responsibility.

As I said this morning, there is no reform worth anything in terms of transforming the system to ensure that children are well-educated and positive contributors to a future which is healthier, safer, more just and comfortable for all that can be done without a teacher education component. Reform in teacher education must address the issues that were raised by the Provincial Auditor.

The issue of certification is a very serious issue in terms of who's prepared to teach what subjects at what level, not just the specialty areas such as special education, which have occupied our discussions today, but the secondary school subjects in math and English and science etc.


In addition, the Provincial Auditor has noted concerns around a practical component around pre-service. That is something that has to get our attention, and obviously the learning commission will have something to say about that.

I don't know whether we want to get into more detail about teacher education today or not. I'll leave that to Mrs Cunningham in terms of whether we want to get more specific today about the issues. We are taking the whole area of teacher education very seriously. Our reorganized ministry, now that we have one rather than two that deal with faculties of education, allows us, I think, to do some rather tough and bold things to ensure consistency around the province.

Right now we have 10 universities offering 11 different teacher training programs without any consistency. There are some similarities, but in terms of toughness and making sure that provincial policy and what happens to pre-service, and indeed in-service, happens to provide full support to the reform, that's simply not happening in the consistent and tough-minded way that I think the question implies. I hope we have more time over the next couple of days to explore that in some detail.

The Vice-Chair: Yes, I think if members have questions on teacher training that are specific to special education we could deal with those today or tomorrow, but if you want general ones, we should wait till the people from the curriculum side are back, because we did tell the ministry we wouldn't deal with that today.

Mrs Cunningham: Could I just say that at 4 o'clock I'm going to have to leave because the city of London is making a presentation. If I want to continue to do this job, I have to be there in another committee for a bit. If we do get a chance, we do have some specific questions on teacher education, but it's up to the committee with regard to when that should happen.

The Vice-Chair: Were your questions specifically relating to special education or were they more generic questions?

Mrs Cunningham: They are specific to special education, but you can't talk to them separately from the big issue because, unfortunately, because of what the deputy said, depending on the college or the university you go to, my questions may not be appropriate.

The Vice-Chair: Mrs Cunningham, it was my understanding you weren't going to be with the committee tomorrow.

Mrs Cunningham: I won't be here tomorrow, but I will be here Thursday morning now.

The Vice-Chair: By Thursday we may be on the curriculum side. Would other members have any objection to the Conservatives using an extra 10 minutes of their time from later in the day now, since Mrs Cunningham has to leave?

Mr Perruzza: Absolutely not.

Ms Akande: None at all.

The Vice-Chair: Okay. Mrs Cunningham, would you like to proceed then?

Mrs Cunningham: It's 1994. Happy new year to you too.

Ms Akande: Just remember this. Write it down.

The Vice-Chair: You just have to get them at the right moment when they're just about comatose and they'll agree to anything, right? Please proceed.

Mrs Cunningham: Could I just ask anybody from the ministry, I think we have a whole generation of young people, and always have had, who really want to spend their lives helping people. There are many professions that they could pursue, but I think teaching is one that, because of the experience we give to our students in our secondary schools, they're exposed to children.

Whether they have summer jobs as camp counsellors or whether they're involved in their community or their churches or whether they're involved in sports or music, they're exposed to young people. Many of them come up through the system, in my view -- we used to use the term "born teachers," and I still see them wherever I go. They don't know it, but I have that feeling about them.

Many of them are dealt out of that opportunity because they cannot meet the standards to get into our university courses for teacher training, and I think it has been a significant loss. I think in Ontario, if we take a look in the past as to who were the best teachers, many of our teachers didn't have university degrees. We can all look back on that, and they didn't. But we decided as a province that we wanted that standard.

I think in some ways we've gone too far in just looking at marks. I think there are some models around the province with different schools boards. Right here in Toronto I'm aware of the North York board, and I think there's another one, that has sort of an apprenticeship program and then the students go into the colleges.

But there has to be a better way of choosing our teachers, because the kind of things we're asking about, especially with special education, this is not a 9 to 3:30 job. Kids just aren't taught from 9 to 3:30. Many teachers have to put in early hours and late hours in order to communicate with parents and other things, and we need people who are dedicated to children first. Quite frankly, I don't think we get enough of it.

I'm also told that many people who are now teachers in special education are people who have been motivated because they're already in the system and they find that's an area they want to work in.

So how do we get the right people, first of all, into the system? Secondly, surely we're not going to continue with this one year of teacher training. I mean, I did that. It was a justification, as far as I was concerned, for the staff in the college. It had very little to do with my opportunities to learn how to teach. What is the role of apprenticeship training, especially in the area of special education?

Dr Pascal: I'll begin, and Maurice Lamontagne may add, again with the caveat that exploring too far beyond what the current problems are and what the possibilities might be is a little bit dangerous for a deputy minister who has a minister who launched a Royal Commission on Learning that has this as its major responsibility.

The Provincial Auditor indeed has noted the issue of practical experience as part of teacher preparation. He's provided information and I'm sure you have information about the differences not only within Ontario but Ontario compared to other jurisdictions. In that environment, there are several faculties of education that are developing plans for two-year programs post-bachelors, which would have a great boost in terms of practical experience.

But, again, the issue of if education is everything in terms of the future, which I think members around the table would agree plays an enormous part in our respective futures and that of our children and our children's children, the preparation of teachers has to be more than under the leadership of institutions that have a very precious claim on their institutional autonomy.

If faculties of education are located within the universities, the entry requirement, which is at the heart of your question, is one which varies from institution to institution. The predictive validity of the measures that are used to choose students I think is always open for fair criticism and conjecture.

Also, of course, as a government, Mr Cooke has announced a very strong interest in ensuring that the population of teachers reflects the population at large in terms of equity characteristics, so we also have those issues to discuss with the faculties of education.

At this particular point in time, though, the relationship is one of moral suasion along the lines of discussions you and I have had and are having in this committee with the faculties. Whether that's good enough in terms of the kinds of issues we've talked about today is a matter in the near future for the commission, but I'm not sure that the people of Ontario and those who care about the educational system will settle for anything less than bold in the area of teacher education in terms of ensuring consistent outcomes, quality preparation and the kind of in-service involvement that teachers demand and deserve in terms of their ongoing needs.

As part of government introducing a new policy on anything, there has to be a concomitant plan for teacher renewal and professional development. There are many, many examples of good news out there, as you suggested earlier on, but we do have some real issues in teacher education which the special-ed area I think brings to the fore.

I don't know if Mr Lamontagne wishes to add to that.

Mr Maurice Lamontagne: That would be at the pleasure of Mrs Cunningham. For the time being, I understand that we will be covering teacher education issues in more detail later in the week. If you have any specific questions, I believe Dr Pascal has captured essentially the issues that are facing the teacher education portfolio in the ministry right now. If you have any specific questions within that, either related to teacher education generally or to special education, I would attempt to respond.


Mrs Cunningham: Only to this extent, and I'll put it on the record as a concern that's been brought to my attention in my work as a critic in travelling around the province. Teachers in their first few years of teaching are all trying to obtain certain specialties, special education being a very popular one, for a couple of reasons: number one, to get a real job, because many of them are teaching part-time as itinerant teachers or whatever.

This is the brightest and the best who we've spent all this money on, and many of them are searching for good jobs. They're going far beyond the call of duty in order to get that job and they're not, unfortunately, able to get the courses they need to get their specialist training so they can even get some of these jobs right now because of the lack of availability of some of the courses.

Two or three of them have come to my office in the last couple of weeks. They drive to Waterloo for whatever courses they want. This is in the city of Toronto, Metropolitan Toronto. There isn't a university here. I'm told the University of Toronto has picked up this semester on a couple of the courses, but that kind of planning -- I mean, we at least as a province should be able to plan among our universities to train the teachers who are there and retrain them. Isn't that what this is all about? So that's a real concern.

Secondly, I think we should be thinking about what we're asking some of these young people to do. You can't keep thinking up more courses that have to be approved provincially. Many school boards many years ago decided what they wanted for requirements. A lot of the teachers were tremendously well qualified and just needed opportunities, and we used to get our certificates from board to board. Maybe there's room for that again, so that we have less bureaucracy and, as the regional office said, monitoring in some way what the boards are doing in their own training. It's exciting too for teachers to get involved in teaching others. Succession planning and succession building are important.

I just offer that as something for the ministry to look at, because we can't keep asking these young people -- they're spending, they tell me, $1,500 for these courses and they haven't finished paying back their OSAP loans. We have to start thinking about what's right and doing it within people's ability timewise and their ability to pay.

These are real problems that most of us don't know about if people don't bring them to our attention. These are young people with degrees, late 20s, first job, and trying to get more upgrading, spending more money, trying to get full-time jobs, loving kids, volunteering all over the place, and their life is just so filled with stress. We have to think about them for a change.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Lamontagne or Dr Pascal, would you like to respond to Mrs Cunningham's comments before we proceed?

Dr Pascal: No, I would take it as a very thoughtful piece of advice.

The Vice-Chair: That sounds like a bureaucratic way of, "Thank you for the information, but don't call us, we'll call you."

Mrs Cunningham: Oh, he knows I'll call him.

The Vice-Chair: And you know she will.

Dr Pascal: If I had said that to anyone else perhaps, but it wasn't meant to be code for anything other than I think it's really thoughtful, and because I am not on the Royal Commission on Learning, we will await what it does. We also are not going to wait to consider ideas similar to the ones Mrs Cunningham offered. Quite the contrary, we will evaluate it as very thoughtful and then bring it to bear when we hear what the learning commission says about this extremely important area.

The Vice-Chair: We'll now go to our next round of rotation, the government caucus. We have Ms Haeck and Mr Malkowski.

Ms Haeck: I'm not sure who to direct the question to per se, but it was around a question that was raised earlier about resources. I believe Ms Poole was the one who put that forward. I guess I'm much more keenly aware of this because of a question that was raised again by a friend of mine who in fact holds my old job as a special collections librarian in a public library, the kind of sharing that in reality does not go on between the school board and the public library system. But it also sort of raises a much broader question of what kind of sharing occurs, not only information but actual resources, between ministries.

We have tended to be fairly parochial within government, one ministry saying, "It's mine," and the next one saying, "No, it's mine," and we don't actually cross boundaries. But I've had the opportunity to visit children's centres where you've got a range of assistive devices for students' communication as well as wheelchairs and other devices available for them, and you start looking at it and you say, "Okay, why can't you guys help this poor child who needs some sort of hearing assistance with either speech-language therapy or a range of other communication devices? Why is this ongoing despite I don't know how many years of infighting?"

I couldn't tell you the months that my staff has had to fight. I can tell you there's no resolution between the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health on one preschooler -- well, I'd say kindergarten student at this point -- over an issue of dealing with language training. I know this is not the only area. It just seems to go on. If you're talking resources, is there finally going to be better sharing?

Dr Pascal: Yes. I hope it will be in my lifetime and I think we're getting there. Unfortunately, I don't want to paint a picture which is brighter than it is. We are still suffering from a touch of what I call hardening of the categories, where in some parts of the province we have some of our local ministry affiliates working more closely together than traditionally we have at Queen's Park. It's getting much better.

In some communities we have school boards that in making tough, forced-choice decisions around special services are not doing it, as is the case in other boards, in isolation from their service provider partners, many of whom are under the auspices of either the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Community and Social Services. So in some of the best-practised communities, there's lots of coordination and indeed integration in terms of how these decisions are made, how the resources can be shared and how the various partners can individually do fewer things better rather than all things less well to reduce the cost to the taxpayer, but doing it in a coordinated way so that the clients -- in this case our students -- are well served by working with other service providers.

That's not happening universally around the province and there are some real problems out there. There are some very difficult problems. What it means for us back home -- and I accept your perception that we need to do a better job interministerially. We have reactivated the interministerial committee on children and youth so that we have a place within Queen's Park where some of the problems as they arise from our communities can be brought to bear, and if there are questions of policy or program or some financing formulas which are counterproductive in terms of cooperation, we can try to solve those in a fast-track fashion.

I have high hopes that this interministerial committee can be a place where there are real problems being brought and real problems solved so that folks, the ones out there with goodwill who are beginning to share and cooperate -- and there are many example of that -- can get some reward for doing it rather than getting punished through the kind of examples that you talked about.

Ms Haeck: Besides sort of the comment about the children falling through the cracks and obviously not getting the services they need, the kind of stresses that are put on the system -- I'm thinking particularly in this case of a public library, where you have materials available in large type and a range of other things, and you find that the school boards basically have cut a range of their material budgets. They don't contribute a dime to anything that happens in libraries, and in fact they send all of their students to the library.

Who do the libraries buy their books for? They buy them primarily for the largest proportion of their clientele, which happens to be school children. It's crazy. The resources just are not well distributed. That's a personal comment of 16 years in libraries, which I don't see being changed, and I don't see this dialogue between the various elements within the community actually taking place.


Let me just as a supplementary, after my personal observations here, suggest maybe at some point, first of all, that where in fact it is working, that somebody comes up with, "Hey, this is how to make it work, guys," and finally, when somebody isn't doing it, it's the report card on those who are the worst offenders and shaming them into the fact that maybe it's time that you don't leave the five-year-old, who happens to need this particular service, outside the door, it's time you actually got them into the services they need.

The other comment I wanted to raise: A friend of mine happens to be a special-ed teacher in one of the poorer boards in the province and she has remarked on several occasions that she just still finds overwhelming, after several years of doing this, the amount of paperwork. One could describe it as sort of the CYA approach of dealing with this -- I won't translate the acronym, since I think everybody here knows what it means -- but it just seems that when you are talking of in excess of 30 forms to be filled out by a classroom teacher, that seems excessive and dealing with one student and one student alone.

I'm wondering if there is -- I hate to use the word "standardization" because I think, if anything, that doesn't necessarily help the matter any -- but again Mr Weber is saying that some of the basic knowledge of the classroom teacher who's dealing with the student is lost in the bureaucracy and I can't agree more.

Dr Pascal: If I could just give a very brief, two-part response to Ms Haeck's final question or comment. One is that the fiscal crunch, I think, is forcing a lot of the kind of restructuring and cooperation that should have been there for other reasons a long time ago, but there are many examples out there and I think the issue of better business practice or re-engineering some of the paperwork will flow from the fiscal problems.

However, without knowing your friend -- maybe I do know her -- without knowing the specific forms she's filling out, some of those forms may be grounded in regulation or legislation --

Ms Haeck: No doubt.

Dr Pascal: -- and that's the kind of thing that -- what we need is on-the-ground examples of things that are getting in the way of better cooperation, re-engineering --

Ms Haeck: I'll take this as notice. I'll make sure she gets the information too.

Dr Pascal: -- cost avoidance and better service. That's why we need the interministerial committee at the centre so that if in fact there are some regulatory changes, we can make regulations in five or six different acts that haven't been even looked at in decades, that have now added up to get in the way of a teacher doing what she should be doing.

Each and every one of those forms may have been right for a particular area of accountability, not just the self-protection for its own sake. If those types of problems and obstacles are identified, we have a place at the centre now where they can be brought so we can remove those obstacles to the kind of re-engineering and better business practice that I think your colleague would like to engage in.

Ms Haeck: Thank you.

Mr Malkowski: I have three issues that I would like to raise. The first thing is in lieu funding which comes under memo 76C. My understanding is that it's a total of about $12 million.

Dr Pascal: I didn't hear the word that came before "funding." I'm very sorry.

Mr Malkowski: In lieu funding under memo 76C. My understanding is the total is $12 million a year.

Mr Doris: Basically yes. It's more like $15 million.

Dr Pascal: Yes. More like $15 million.

Mr Malkowski: Okay, approximately $12 million, but in my understanding of 76C the guidelines are very weak when it talks about quality of support systems, for example, sign language interpreters. School boards have a variety of screenings in terms of trying to hire people. They hire them as educational assistants/tutors, and there are no qualifications in terms of standards for educational interpreters. It would be similar to a person who took a French course, say, French 101, and then became a French-English interpreter. I don't think people would be receptive to that.

I know that it's difficult for people to find sign language interpreters. Would you mind commenting on how you're trying to work on improving the standards under 76C, not only sign language interpreters, but auditory-verbal therapists and oral interpreters as well. Could you comment on that issue?

The second issue is the special education classes. I'm wondering if they follow The Common Curriculum or if they have their own curriculum. I'm wondering if special education is considered in the provincial testing, for example, the grades that you talked about, grades 3, 6 and 9, if the special education students are included in that testing.

My third and final point, talking about information on the options, sometimes parents are not told of all the options that are available. For example, provincial demonstration schools may not be one of the options that they're told about. For example, within the educational system for deaf and hard-of-hearing children, there is oral communication or sign language communication. For blind children, they need to know information about Braille education or the use of voice print in their education. All this kind of information is necessary. It's the same with children who have cerebral palsy or who have a conductive educational approach. It's more of a holistic approach instead of using the traditional medical approach in terms of disabilities. Would there be a whole information package that would be available to parents who have disabled children which looks at each specific disability and what those child needs would be?

Could you comment on each of the three points I just mentioned?

Mr Mason: Let me start with the first one around interpreters. The only interpreters who are funded through memo 76C from the ministry are interpreters who either have the AVLIC, ie, Association of Visual Language Interpreters of Canada, qualifications or in the interim have the appropriate community college or other qualifications that are approved by a knowledgeable representation from the provincial school. If school boards choose to have some other kind of interpreting, it is not part of the funding that we provide. That is a choice they are making to meet specific needs, but it comes from their special education and not from the memo 76C funds.

The second question was The Common Curriculum. There are two parts to that. One was the provincial testing. Yes, exceptional pupils are expected to be part of that process. There is a provision in there that boards can exempt pupils for various reasons, but we've certainly found in the central regional office that this was not a reason, that exceptional pupils were involved. Modifications such as an interpreter and Braille were made available for those students.

Looking further into The Common Curriculum, being new, there's a lot of work that we're doing out of the regional offices with school boards. As a matter of fact, we have a meeting coming up in February and special education will be part of that meeting, working with the school board staff around looking at the ways in which The Common Curriculum applies to exceptional pupils. There's a lot of work to be done, but we are in that process. Could you just help me with the third question again?


Mr Malkowski: The third point was talking about information for the parents; for example, with deaf and hard-of-hearing students the parents' range of options, if they wanted to go to an auditory verbal approach, a bi-bi approach, a sign language approach; what information parents of blind children might need, what's offered at a provincial school or at school boards, either Braille education or voice print; and then the conductive education compared to a traditional medical approach, so that parents know all the options and then can choose what's best for their child.

Mr Mason: This varies from school board to school board. We get information in the annual report to the minister; we try. We requested our office to send in any of the information they are using to share with parents, so we can have a look at what kind of information is being shared.

That is not required to be part of the parent guide, the kind of information we're asking for, but many boards do indeed provide that kind of information. It depends a great deal on the nature of their population, whether they have a large population of deaf pupils or blind pupils. But there are certainly quite a few boards that provide information to parents in that regard, plus make available for parent interviews or parent meetings, translators and interpreters for parents who have that need.

The conductive education is fairly new on the scene. There certainly has been some involvement with the Ontario March of Dimes and the Hugh MacMillan centre has had some involvement. In taking a look at conductive education, it is an area where there is literally no research and we're at a time now of trying to determine the value. But the awareness of it has been fairly widespread and when a call comes in we certainly can respond to it and we've talked to some school board officials about it, but it's still an area that needs some work.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Malkowski, I think we had one further comment before you continued.

Mr Ferren: Madam Chair, if I can just build on what Ron said, we can take that particular suggestion under advisement as we did with a couple of others. During the review of the IPRC process that could be considered, particularly in the section that refers to the preparation of the parent guides, and there's some specific requirements for school boards in the development of their parent guides. That may be an appropriate place to require school boards to provide those types of options so that parents may make the proper choice of program for their particular child.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you, Mr Ferren. You have one minute, Mr Malkowski.

Mr Malkowski: Just finally, will the ministry then make it mandatory for school boards to provide a full range of options, including both provincial schools and demonstration schools? We know that resources are limited in terms of regions, but looking at what is available for the needs of the child, having that package of information for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, having the package of information that blind students might need, or looking at a specific package for each specific disability.

Mr Ferren: The suggestions concerning will the ministry require a range of options, that whole topic is under consideration in the further development of the proposed directions for the integration of exceptional pupils because that's part and parcel of that particular initiative, so there hasn't been a decision made on that at this time.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you, and thank you, Mr Malkowski. Mr Murphy for the Liberal caucus.

Mr Murphy: I am going to ask a few questions and Mr Callahan is going to follow up.

One of the things that is of interest to me is how governments make decisions on policy and how they get the information and how it's fed in and what analysis is done. One of the criticisms I guess that the auditor has is the insufficiency of information, at least from the result of the review that the auditor made at the ministry level regarding the effectiveness of programs, the cost of programs, the relationship between the two. There's a chart included in the auditor's report in which you have an expenditure variation that ranges over a 300% difference, from as low as $227 per pupil at one board to as high as $793 at another. This may be something you have to come back for, and that's fine, and it arises out of some of what Mrs Cunningham was talking about too.

Does the ministry have an analysis of the by-board, per-pupil expenditure for special education, linking that with a list of the kinds of special education programs that are available according to those expenditure categories, and then an analysis and some way of follow-up? You have various models of programs. Is there anything that says this one works versus this one doesn't and this one costs this much and works this effectively and this one costs this much and works more or less effectively?

Dr Pascal: Let me begin by reinforcing a word that is sprinkled throughout the Provincial Auditor's report, and Mr Peters reinforced it this morning, and that's the word "outcome." That is, as Mr Murphy has indicated, as a result of all those data, do we know what works and what doesn't work? I don't think we're well enough along the way in being able to answer that question.

I'll ask Jim Doris to describe the kinds of data that we do collect, but in terms of closing the loop in terms of outcomes, what makes a difference, one of the reasons we have such a variety of expenditure difference is because the boards, since 1980, have had the responsibility to develop innovative ways and different ways, so we do have some apples and oranges in terms of how boards have approached this and therefore different levels of expenditure.

We can't answer the question as to which programs work more effectively than others. We can't answer at this point in time whether spending more makes a difference. We know generally in the whole area of educational expenditure that educational expenditure and educational outcome, as per certain types of tests that are done -- we'll talk about that over the next couple of days, I'm sure -- do not have a necessarily high correlation.

It is an area where I think we are generally at risk in terms of whether we've done the kind of ongoing research, but I guess it has not been seen as a high priority given the fact that the responsibility has been at the board level. I think it's a legitimate expectation that governments do this kind of research even if the responsibility for innovation and differentiation is at the board level.

I'd like Mr Doris to answer the first part of the question, which has to do with what kind of data are collected and what we do with them.

Mr Doris: To answer, this really helps explain education finance reform because for the past two years our central focus in education finance reform has been, what should be funded? What should the dollars, the scarce dollars, be going for? To start that exercise, we asked the question, what is being funded at the moment?

Our first exercise in fact was to bring together all the data we could find on 1991. We have basically what we have analysed as each board's expenditures for the year 1991 and we sent a report to each board. Basically, what we have are staffing levels, we have all of their expenditures etc and we asked them to verify that. But as the deputy points out, we have not gone into the business of what of these expenditure patterns is the most effective.

Where we're at, in a general sense, is that we now have a picture at least of these trends across the province. We do know how many social workers there are, who's got them, we know what they're getting paid etc. We're now in a position to say: "Should there be a social worker," taking that as an example, "in every school in Ontario? What would that cost? What would it mean? How many are there now? How many are short?" etc. So it's a database that we have assembled.


Mr Murphy: I guess my concern on that is that sometimes you can collect a whole lot of data that don't tell you anything, because you could go through and say, "Look, you have this much money spent on salaries and these kind of people are employed," and you have no idea whether any of it works at the end of the day. What I want to know is, have you got a data collection process in place that says 20 people went through the program, 15 worked, five failed? That sounds kind of crass, but you know what I mean.

Dr Pascal: Madam Chair, through you to Mr Murphy, we have those types of outcome data. That is, we can track who, according to certain presenting challenges across what boards, gets through programs. But your earlier question was a very sophisticated question that talks about, do we really know what's at play in terms of success factors? The short answer to your question, "Are we asking the right kind of research questions in the right kind of detail?" is "No, we don't."

I don't want to disagree with my colleagues. This isn't a point of disagreement; it's simply my professional interpretation as a former and future researcher. If we just count up the number of social workers and the number of other types of professionals without asking more micro-questions about what behaviours they display -- because you can develop control samples where you have the right level of social workers and speech pathologists and a whole bunch of other things, but if they are not in a consistent way performing the right kind of interventions, exhibiting the right kinds of behaviours, developing the right kind of individualized programs, as I said earlier this morning, it's very sloppy research.

It's very difficult to control everything, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to do the kind of value-for-money research that is implied by the Provincial Auditor's comments and concerns. So we collect a lot of information, but I'm not sure we're collecting the right information. We need to do a better job at figuring out what the questions are and then not only collecting it, but using it.

Mr Murphy: Is that a split funding responsibility or is it all the province, the special education as a category? I had it here somewhere: $1.3 billion spent.

Mr Doris: It's shared.

Mr Murphy: Shared responsibility. Have you tracked at all the difference in expenditures and perhaps quality as between public and separate boards in the delivery of special education? I suppose I'm begging the question of whether there is a difference, and do you know that?

Dr Pascal: I don't know. Do you know?

Mr Ferren: There is a difference. We collect the data of expenditures from school boards and certainly for public and separate school boards, and you will find that in terms of the inequities that exist in terms of funding between public and separate boards -- and that's one of the issues that the education finance reform project is addressing -- what we do know is there are inequities in funding and yet both systems are delivering special education programs and services. That still doesn't get to the issue of which are most effective, which you're also suggesting.

Mr Murphy: One and I'll turn it over. I'm sorry to use up so much time, but the special education for francophone students, I looked through and I didn't see it mentioned here and I don't know whether that means it's not a problem or maybe you didn't have time to look at it. I don't see the ADM for francophone affairs here, but are the services out there adequate? Do you have information to assess special education for francophone students? Or am I sort of asking the same question three different ways?

Dr Pascal: If I can answer the second question first, which is whether we assess in the same way in the French-language settings, the answer is yes. In answer to your first question, whether it is adequate, the manner in which we do this, the answer is I don't know. But I would stand aside if a colleague from the ministry would like to add something in answer to the first question.

Mr Doris: The current funding model does provide extra resources for small school boards, for example, in the north. It certainly provides extra resources for those school boards that have francophone students and there are French classes. Obviously, there are extra resources for French-language school boards where they exist.

Dr Pascal: Mariette will be here tomorrow morning and will be pleased to follow up apart from the committee to give a complete answer to your question.

Mr Murphy: It may be too detailed a question, but if, for example, the population of francophones is not large enough to qualify, whatever the percentage is, and there isn't a board that services but you have a person whose first language is French and who has a learning disability, how is that person dealt with if there aren't enough other francophone people in the area to have a French-language board?

Dr Pascal: They would do the same, I imagine. Again, I'm not entirely sure, but my guess is they would do what English boards would do when they had issues of economy of scale or a particular intervention that was necessary: They would buy the services in collaboration with another board or --

Interjection: Maybe.

Mr Murphy: I see one of my colleagues is saying, "Maybe."

Dr Pascal: Ron Mason will correct me if necessary.

Mr Mason: Not to correct, but just to add, you're saying if there's not a French board?

Mr Murphy: That's right.

Mr Mason: In that case there are two possibilities. Most common is that there is a French section in the board and that French section provides programs for francophone students which include special-ed programs. It's handled in the same way as the English-speaking students. The report to the minister is handled in exactly the same way. Part of the French unit in the regional office would work in collaboration with whoever is coordinating or looking after special ed, so the evaluation -- I'll use the term "evaluation" as a broad term here -- of service delivery is looked at in exactly the same way.

If there is no French section, then they would be in an English-speaking situation, and they are required to provide the special education in English. What in fact happens in many boards is that the special education resource teacher or the teacher providing the special ed -- boards will very often get a person who has English to be there and provide for the student. That's fairly common. But those are the three possible scenarios.

The Vice-Chair: Before we go to Mr Callahan, the auditor has asked for a follow-up to Mr Murphy, and I'm sure he would like me to reiterate that he is not part of the Liberal caucus and this is non-partisan in all ways, even though you're intersecting. We'll give you additional time, Mr Callahan.

Mr Callahan: He might be asking the question I'm about to ask. I'll see how good he is.

The Vice-Chair: But then you'll ask it anyway.

Mr Peters: To follow up on the funding, just for clarification, to make one point on this, you're from the ministry, but the allocation of funds to special education is actually at the board's discretion. Would I be wrong in that assumption?

Then the second question in that is, would the ministry actually go into a board's request for funding and adjust this on some basis or standard that exists in the ministry? Maybe that would sort of put a clarification point on Mr Murphy's question.

Mr Doris: Funding for special education in general is simply a component of that per-pupil amount for equity that I talked about earlier. It's about $4,000, and $285 of the $4,000 is assigned for special education from the ministry's point of view. For the high schools, it's about $5,000, and roughly $211 of that $5,000 is assigned there. In other words, that's our explanation of how much is going.


Then you add to that, of course, all of those things that we talked about in section 27s: If there's a teacher at Sick Kids hospital, then the province is paying 100% of the cost of that, the teacher's aide etc. If we're talking about programs in lieu, the province is paying 100% on that. So you build up the expenditures. But it's true that when the board gets the money, they allocate it then as they see fit to best meet the needs of the students in their jurisdiction.

Would we do anything to adjust? Well, if we found in an audit, for example, that we had given money for section 27s and we found that they didn't meet the standards, then, yes, the money would be adjusted. Remember, this money is going on the basis of per-pupil counts, so again in the audit counts, if we found that the enrolments were inaccurate, adjustments would be made. Over the past five years, I remember $3-million changes and things like this to individual boards. So the calculations are dependent on audit processes.

Mr Murphy: But it's a numbers audit, not a value-for-money audit that you do.

Mr Doris: That's right.

Mr Callahan: That is really bizarre, because that's along the lines of what I was going to be asking, really.

The Vice-Chair: Now that we have those answers, we'll go on to Mr Villeneuve. No?

Mr Callahan: What concerns me is the following, and I hope this will not be pointing the finger at any trustee in this province. But when you're in hard economic times and you have to come up with dollars and there is no specific earmarking of that money for special education, and when I look at the finding of the auditor which I read to you this morning about IPRCs in terms of placing, where they were "informed by school boards visited" -- and I would love to know from the auditor how many times they were informed of this -- "that in some cases, due to limited resources, the number of referrals of students to an IPRC for identification as exceptional is limited by the number of spaces available for exceptional pupils," I would assume that there was a further follow-up on that. It was limited to -- and I guess "placement" means program and teacher.

What I'm trying to find out is, how can you ensure the very important commitment that's made in the Education Act that "The minister shall ensure" -- it's mandatory -- "that all exceptional children in Ontario have available to them, in accordance with this act and the regulations, appropriate special education programs and special education services without payment of fees by parents or guardians resident in Ontario, and shall provide for the parents or guardians to appeal the appropriateness of the special education placement," and for these purposes the minister shall do certain things? If it's a component of the per-pupil grant -- that's what I understand Mr Doris to say and that's what I understood it to be -- what guarantees are there?

Let's take the worst-case scenario. Again, I preface this by saying I'm sure that all trustees are honourable people, but they're also politicians. They have to get elected and they'll probably get elected -- they'll be going to the polls in the fall of this year.

In tough financial times, what guarantees do I have for my constituents that the province has such a handle on this that they can identify that these moneys are in fact being spent for the purpose they're being spent for, particularly in light of this comment by the auditor and his findings in his discussions with local schools?

Dr Pascal: Let me start and then I'll turn it over to Mr Doris.

You raised a few questions. Let me deal first of all with the issue of parents and what they can do about the placement. The short answer is that the IPRC process has an appeals process.

On the larger issue, in terms of joining your second question with Mr Peters's question, as I said this morning in my opening remarks, there are issues of transparency or lack of transparency in terms of the dollars that go in through the GLG, through our $6.4-billion contribution to the total $14-billion-plus allocation by the people of Ontario.

There is a lack of transparency about how those dollars are spent. It's through what the ministry has been asked to do in education finance reform where the issues of accountability and equity are to be found. At least in the work we have done and that we will present as part of education finance reform, there will be transparency: "Here's the amount of money that goes in and that is for each function, including special education." The manner in which the dollars are spent will be far more transparent to taxpayers, to parents and to everybody else.

Jim may want to add a few comments to that.

Mr Doris: The law requires -- put it like that -- school boards to provide these programs for exceptional students. From the regulation on funding, one of the clauses, clause 6, says it's a condition of payment to a board that the board comply with the act, and if it doesn't, that grants will be withheld. I guess in the extreme situation, if you had the extreme situation that times are tough, when the board just announces, "We're not going to provide such things," then the government would at that point have the option of deciding. There would be a court action -- obviously that's a possibility -- or certainly, under the general legislative grants regulation, the minister could withhold grants.

Mr Callahan: Perhaps I should have clarified it. I'm talking about the invisible disabled. It's pretty obvious if someone is challenged physically, either being blind, deaf or unable to walk; that's pretty clear. You can identify those people in the school. The parent knows it. The parent goes through the process and looks to have their child receive the moneys that he or she is entitled to.

But as to the invisible disabled, the learning disabled, how can you possibly put a rider on that? How can you possibly check to see if a school board has carried out that mandate? It's not their mandate, it's the minister's mandate, according to the Education Act: "He shall." It's a mandatory provision. How can you identify that's happening?

The way I look at it is this, and this may be very machiavellian: Since the identification of a child with a learning disability requires some type of statement being made by either a teacher or an assessment by a psychologist and so on, let's say that in hard times, bad times, your class size is going to have to go up because you haven't got the funds. The trustees won't give you the funds. You want to keep those class sizes down, because that's important to your ratepayers, okay? What proof have we got -- you've got to help me; maybe I'm going to be in a lot of trouble with my trustee friends -- for me or for the parents of children who have been denied, perhaps, either an assessment because they said there's nothing wrong with you or haven't been able to get a placement, that this is not taking place in the case of the invisible disability if you don't have some conditionality attached to the grant?

Take the analogy in a municipality: You have conditional grants for transportation of specific items. Unless the municipality can show that this money's been spent on that, it doesn't get the money or it gets less the next year. Why is there not some -- particularly for the invisible disabled. I go back to that, because I think they are really the invisible section of our society.

I have a friend of mine who teaches. She says there's no such thing as a learning disabled child. I have another person who says that there is. You've got this constant argument among the academics that they don't exist. I can tell you that they do exist. I think there's a whole host of people who have done significant research into this. So how do you ensure that these people are getting what the Education Act requires?


I'd only say one more thing before I ask somebody to comment on it. There was a report by a committee of the Legislature, the Fourth Report of the Select Committee on Education back in 1990. I thought they had some pretty good things to say. The first was early identification. I think everybody agrees with that. They also argued that there should be more programs, such as at Ryerson.

Why don't you have a triage person -- they don't necessarily have to be a psychologist -- who has got enough education in how to spot a kid who has a learning disability -- not dyslexia, because that's pretty easy to see, but attention deficit -- to be able to move these kids for an assessment and guarantee their placement in a program to deal with their needs at the earliest possible moment? Why don't we have this in the correctional facilities too? Why don't we have someone there as a triage person, as they do in a hospital, to be able to identify these people and make certain their needs are attended to?

I find, as I said before, that it's the same unfortunate systemic barrier that's facing those kids as they will face in the employment equity legislation. They're an invisible disability. They have rights under the law, and unless they self-identify or unless somebody is smart enough to identify them as having a problem, they're not going to get their rights dealt with. They're not going to get their fair share in this province.

I don't know whether anybody can answer that.

Ms Akande: Go ahead.

Mr Callahan: Maybe that's just my very prejudiced view about it. I really believe there are kids out there who are suffering, and we're not dealing with them. We're dealing with -- and that's great -- all of the people who can be seen as having a disability, because you can account for them, but what are we doing to ensure that these kids with the invisible disability are going to be identified as totally as possible and are going to get the assistance that the Education Act is mandated to give them?

The Vice-Chair: The Liberal caucus time is actually up, but I think committee members would very much like to hear the answer to that.

Ms Akande: Very much.

Mr Ferren: I'll try. I'll start. That's a rather new twist for me in terms of the problem that has been related in terms of identifying these pupils, because of the 163,000 pupils who are identified as exceptional in the province, 72,000 have already been identified as learning disabled. So the issue of identifying them is new to me. That doesn't mean it's not an issue.

The issue that is often brought before us, and particularly by the Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario, is that we want more of our pupils who are identified as having a learning disability in special education classes, where they're getting a more intensive level of support than in integrated settings.

Mr Callahan: Right, which makes sense. If you have an attention deficit, you don't want to be in a class where -- I would think, anyway. Go ahead.

Mr Ferren: Many children with learning disabilities can be accommodated, depending upon the disability, within the regular classrooms with modification of instructional methodologies and the appropriate types of learning equipment if it's provided to them. But that has been the major issue.

The issue in the auditor's report I thought cut across exceptionalities, that you may be in a situation in a school board, as I read it, where there may be a limited number of pupils who have access to the IPRC process, directly related to the number of available places, and that exists, as the auditor has indicated. In reality, though, according to the act, if the parent requests in writing that the child be referred to an IPRC, nobody can deny that child being referred to the IPRC. So it would only be the flip side of that, where it says the principal may refer the child after notifying the parent. But the parent has the absolute right to refer the child to an IPRC, in writing, and when the parent makes that request, the principal cannot refuse it.

I was just using that in terms of a protection for any pupil with a disability or any parent of a pupil with a disability, particularly if it is a major problem for parents of pupils with learning difficulties.

As far as the accessing of programs across the various levels is concerned, I'll ask Ron to address that.

Mr Mason: I'd like to pick up on a couple of things. One of them is coming back to your comment on a wheelchair user, for example. I just want to point out that being identified as exceptional, according to the act, is a pupil who is in need of a special education program. The fact that somebody may have a physical disability does not necessarily mean they need a special education program. They may need an accessible building, clearly, but the point I want to make by that is that it's the needs that are critical, and the regulations insist that what we identify are the needs. From there, you take a look at the kind of program.

I think part of this and part of the auditor's report that you're asking about is, how do we, as a ministry, take some steps? "Ensure" is a strong word; we can't be everywhere, obviously. But there are a number of ways that we try to ensure that appropriate programs and services are available.

Certainly if the situation that you've described -- Peter mentioned that if somebody has called the board and they're denied access to an IPRC, those parents in most cases will in some way get to our office and ask what the situation is and will be advised. In many cases there will be, through our office, contact with the board to ensure that everybody understands what the rights of the people are. That also occurs through our ongoing liaison with the boards to see how they are providing programs and services through the annual report to the minister. In some cases that involves direct dialogue with the board officials.

So there are a lot of measures. To say "ensure" is pretty comprehensive. As I say, we can't be everywhere to do that.

The Vice-Chair: Just before we go to the Conservative caucus, the auditor has a question for you.

Mr Peters: Just an additional comment, if I may, instead of a question: This right of the parents, how well is that actually communicated? There is quite a story behind that, in terms that when we dealt with boards directly, there seemed to be various interpretations of this right. One board that was very candid about this informed us that in fact teachers may have identified the student, but because of the shortage of spaces to deal with that particular problem may discourage identification or deal with it in such a way -- because that board had decided that it was not going to be able to deal with that particular situation.

Dr Pascal: Excuse me. Is that discouraged it within the school or discouraged it in discussion with the parents?

Mr Peters: In discussion with the parents. Is that correct, Gary?

Mr Gary Peall: Certainly within the school. We're not sure about what went on with the parents, and that's really why we're bringing up the clarification. That would have been a check and balance on the system, I suppose, but if you have identified a need but didn't go the extra step of bringing that need to an IPRC process, then that's where the problem would arise.


Mr Ferren: I believe the auditor has identified a problem that others have pointed out to us during the consultation on the integration of exceptional peoples and at various stakeholder meetings; that is, that there is legislation there to protect the rights of parents but that many parents are not aware of them, and that in spite of the fact that even within the IPRC regulation there's a requirement for a school board to prepare a parent guide and to have it available in every school in the system and to have it available in the board jurisdiction, there's a communication problem, or there's more than a communication problem. I think it's a proactive approach on the part of the board to make sure that parents are aware of the programs and services and what their rights are.

I think it is an issue that has to be addressed during the review of the IPRC process, and not only during the review even, to strengthen that, but then how do we strengthen that in terms of practice among school boards and ensure that there are in-service sessions carried on periodically, similar to what the deputy was speaking to in relation to special education advisory committees?

Mr Callahan: Could I just get clarification? If the auditor's saying that these school boards were doing something -- what I was suggesting was that if there weren't any placements, they discouraged the teachers even talking to the parents about the rights they had. That's precisely what I was suggesting and the lack of placements might be due to cutbacks or whatever. That to me is an insidious, absolutely an insidious situation. It means there are kids out there who have rights under the law and are being denied them, possibly because of cutbacks. Surely that's got to be tightened up.

That's like having a process available and limiting the number of people who can come before the chancellor to get justice. That's totally inappropriate, and if that in fact is what the auditor is saying, I, as a member of this committee and I think all my colleagues here, would condemn that totally. That has to be stringently stopped and there has to be a string put on that so you can bring the boards to task on it.

The Vice-Chair: We'll now go on to Mr Villeneuve, and you have 10 minutes left because we attributed 10 minutes to Mrs Cunningham earlier.

Mr Noble Villeneuve (S-D-G & East Grenville): As one who watched with a good degree of interest W5 last week with the integration of exceptional students in the class, after that show was over, I had some question marks, and really it maybe was a somewhat slanted program, but it left me with a great number of unanswered questions, and really is full integration -- I guess we're not speaking of full integration for exceptional students here but we're talking of integration where realistically possible.

Teachers' aides apparently are being cut back -- teachers' assistants, whoever, people within the classroom who are not teachers but who have a place in the classroom. Am I right in assuming that most of these people would have been there to look or tend to the needs of exceptional students?

Mr Ferren: I don't have the statistics on that and we're conducting a review of those statistics at the present time. From my experience, the majority of teacher assistants you would find available in the school system today would be for meeting the needs of exceptional pupils in special education programs and services. I think that is correct.

Mr Villeneuve: Am I right in assuming then that there will be less -- this is beyond the auditor's report here -- of that available in the future because apparently teachers' aides and teaching assistants have been the first to bite the dust, should we say?

Mr Ferren: We read and hear those stories also, and sometimes that is the information that's given out that teacher assistants have been cut and that that's the first line of defence for the board if it finds it necessary to cut back on resources. But usually, when you follow up on those situations, for the majority of cases, that is not the reality. What it is, is an exercise the board is undergoing to balance its budget, and what is critical in it is that there's an equitable reduction of resources, if that's what is necessary, and that it should not be at the expense of exceptional pupils.

Mr Villeneuve: I appreciate that, and hopefully the ministry will be monitoring. I know you have to deal with boards and there are certain ways that you monitor and make sure things are happening the way they're supposed to.

Being a member of this assembly representing a large rural area in two school jurisdictions, I must put a feather in your hat, first of all, and then we'll go to other things. Within Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry there was a major problem, particularly in the city of Cornwall, where it was brought to our attention by both the separate and the public directors of education that there was a major problem in that some of the students were suicidal. There were major economic problems at home.

I must say that the ministry stepped into the breach, with the Ministry of Community and Social Services, and we now have additional counsellors. It's my understanding that it's now turned into a positive situation. The ministry and the people within the system, particularly in Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, are telling me now that it's a very positive reaction.

Yes, money was spent, but I understand it was very wisely spent in assisting these students, who were not exceptional students, I don't think, or most of them were average students from average families where there were very difficult economic times at home, and they were going through some terrible pressures. So to the ministry, I say thank you. That was above and beyond the call of duty, I guess, but it certainly filled a very real vacuum in that area.

Now, going back to those areas of large rural jurisdictions, do you find a problem there in attempting to meet some of the needs of exceptional students in those areas where a high school our children attended was a high school with about 400 students, and you run into numbers problems? Is that a problem for you people who sit here at ministry headquarters?

Mr Ferren: It is a concern that is raised by small rural boards and it is a concern that's raised by small and isolate boards in northwestern Ontario. But I thought first, before I get on to that, we could address the issue of additional funding for those boards.

Mr Doris: Under the current funding model we certainly do provide extra support to school boards that are small school boards or that have small sections. In addition to that, there's extra support for small schools -- especially we're talking now in the north rather than southern Ontario -- because we're recognizing that there are extra costs incurred if they've got to travel 80 miles between each school etc. That's speaking in a general sense, not talking about special education per se, but it helps address the education needs of those students identified as exceptional, yes.

Mr Ferren: Can I pick up on what Jim has said and maybe get back to the questioner's concern about whether we have found that's a problem for smaller school boards and isolate school boards? I'd just like to relate from experience, because I had the lead responsibility for the consultation paper on the integration of exceptional pupils. I travelled across the province to almost all the school boards, or almost all the areas where the school boards are, and several times into northwestern Ontario and to small isolate boards and into some of the rural southern Ontario boards where you have the smaller populations.

What we have found is that when we were there talking about the issue of the integration of exceptional pupils, their response was, "Integration is not an issue with us, because we have no choice and we are integrating the pupils and we are providing the programs for these pupils." Their request would be for additional funding support to provide the level of services that they are providing. But what we did find also, and what we do find right today -- it's there among those boards -- is that they have some of the most creative solutions in terms of providing the supports and services through the interschool board cooperation and among the agencies within their particular areas. I just thought I'd make that comment.


Mr Villeneuve: When you monitor the numbers of exceptional students, if you run into an area where for whatever reason there is a considerably lower percentage of so-called exceptional students, would that trigger a situation that maybe they're there and unidentified? Would you do something special at that point to try and ascertain, do we have, for whatever particular reason, a lower level of exceptional students in a certain area? If you do, do you do anything special?

Mr Ferren: Jim, did you want to pick that up?

Mr Doris: I was going to say it would only show up when we're talking about section 27s. In other words, if the board hires more teachers because of students in group homes or whatever it is, the province is providing for that. But if we're talking about exceptional students in general, like learning disabilities, remember the province is not funding on a per-pupil amount to identify it.

Dr Pascal: If I can just make sure I understand the question, my understanding of the question is, with respect to the data that we collect on a provincial basis, and this aggregate according to school board and exceptionality, if we see something that's apart from the norm in terms of presenting exceptionalities, do we do anything about it, do we do some further research to see if there's anything in play either in terms of just something that's an aberration in terms of probability estimates or an issue of identification?

Mr Villeneuve: That's my question.

Dr Pascal: Okay, that's the question.

Mr Ferren: I can't answer that, because it relates to particular boards. I do know, in terms of the statistics, that they're pretty consistent annually in terms of the total number of pupils who are identified as exceptional in relation to the total pupil population. That would run between 8% and 9%. But you're addressing the issue where, when we get those individual reports from the board and we could have a school board that's reporting -- let us assume 4% of the pupils are identified. I couldn't answer that. That's why I'm looking back here. Ron Mason may be able to add to this.

Mr Villeneuve: It's just that if there is a certain area that stands out, and they may not have that many exceptional students, there's got to be a reason, the reason may be that they're not identified, that they're there but unidentified.

Mr Mason: That's correct. The reason I didn't come up immediately is because you were talking about numbers that are reported. In the regional office we wouldn't be getting the information via numbers unless we asked for it downtown. But what we do get on an annual basis is a profile that indicates to us the kinds of exceptionalities that have programs and the kinds of programs.

If we see in that report that there's a gap, that they're not providing for a particular segment, then we would be questioning the board further on that to try and find out, "How are you providing for these pupils?" Remember, and I come back to what I said before, that the act says that an exceptional pupil who's identified is one who's in need of a special education program. If the board is providing for that pupil in some other way and the needs are not such that they need a special program, then that's quite legitimate. So we could find that out to the best of our ability with our numbers.

What we've tended to do, if we have questions like that, is that we do two things. One of them is that we will make that a board that we ask to come in and sit down with us as a committee and discuss that further and get more information than is provided in a written report. In addition to that, we will respond back to the board and express that concern publicly, which will go back to the trustees and the special-ed advisory committee. So we would identify it that way.

Dr Pascal: Today has been an extremely positive problem-solving-oriented session of public accounts and I very much appreciate the constructive tone. Am I allowed to ask a question of my own colleagues since we're being --

Ms Akande: On your own time.

Dr Pascal: It's in line with the question.

Mr Villeneuve: I'll relinquish whatever time I have left, by all means.

Dr Pascal: As a result of what --

The Acting Chair (Mr Tim Murphy): In lieu of writing it down and passing it to Mr Villeneuve, why don't you just ask.

Dr Pascal: Thank you very much. We've saved a nickel.

Ms Akande: And your life.

Dr Pascal: And my life.

Getting back to the question and Mr Mason's answer, do we take the regional office results, as per the kind of investigation you just discussed, and do we step back and have all the regional offices compare their experience as a result of what you've just described that you would do in your own regional office, because that gets, I think, closer to the issue of whether or not there is some aberration from the provincial experience? Do we do that?

Mr Mason: Two parts to that answer.

Dr Pascal: If we don't it's okay. It's not okay, but I'm just interested in the answer.

Mr Mason: I'm not your consummate bureaucrat, but it is a yes and no answer.

Ms Akande: I don't believe you.

Mr Mason: People who know me know that. We have consistently sent those letters that I referred to, downtown. All the regional offices have done that and they have been up to this present time, up to this past year, reviewed downtown here at the special ed unit with some kind of summary and patterns looked at.

This has become a problem in that we have fewer people to do those things, and what has been reinstituted is a group of people representing all the regional offices meeting, not physically but through teleconference, on a regular basis to try and be consistent on our approach to this.

That's the current way we're looking at dealing with this with fewer people and similarly, in our own regional office, we're taking a look at ways we can try to maintain that same accountability with fewer people. So it's being done using electronic means and that sort of thing.

The Acting Chair: Mr Villeneuve, I've let you go actually well beyond your time. Why don't we just say one question and some follow-up, sort of five minutes as the loose structure of how much time each caucus has left. I have Ms Akande on the list.

Ms Akande: I'm interested in two things. One is integration in relation to accountability. Integration, as you know, and your reading will certainly emphasize, is something that's looked upon as desirable in terms of special education because it is felt that after one has given an intense program within a self-contained class, it's advisable to reintegrate the student so that eventually they will be able to operate within a regular program.

That being the case, though, it sometimes is the scene of a coverup. In other words, a child may be identified as a special education student in any of the categories that are there, put into an integrated program initially, or a self-contained program and then gradually reintegrated, and the teacher of the integrated program does not have special education qualifications in any area or in the area where the child has been identified as being exceptional, and yet the board is able to achieve the funding because the identification process and criteria have been fulfilled.

That being the case, it would probably be picked up most likely, if at all, at the regional level and if so, the argument may well be put that the child is in an integrated program and is being served there even though the teacher has no special education qualifications. There is nothing in your legislation that addresses that directly, or am I wrong?


Mr Mason: It's an interesting question. Let me try and summarize it. Indeed, it may be that a pupil has been identified and is being served through the individual program plan by a teacher who does not have special ed qualifications. How do we deal with that?

It's indeed a concern. What is happening in that case, and this is critical to the whole integration aspect, is the kind of support that's provided for that classroom teacher. One of the things that I've observed in this movement towards more integration is that the job description for resource staff is shifting from direct instruction of the pupil to more and more support in a collaborative way to classroom teachers. If that indeed is the way it's being handled, there's much merit in that and that's what we have to take a look at.

As far as requirements in the legislation are concerned that all teachers who work with identified pupils have qualifications, there is no requirement. There is a requirement if they are teaching a class. So looking for that kind of support is critical.

Ms Akande: In relation to that, if that's acceptable and if we also say that the best system would be a chain of accountability -- because if you've got a support person working with a regular class teacher to provide a specialized program directed towards the needs of the special ed kid, so a chain of accountability is really what you're setting up -- then wouldn't it be a wiser consideration for the ministry to look at ways of linking with those who are most accountable to the special-ed programs within boards rather than finding direct ways of monitoring themselves?

Mr Mason: I haven't captured all of that. You're looking at how we could be more accountable as to what's happening?

Ms Akande: No, I'm saying that what we've been saying here this afternoon and this morning is that the ministry should monitor that, and the ministry should monitor every new area or every area that we're talking about, and I'm saying maybe one of the things that we should be asking is, is it possible for the ministry to set up a monitoring process that recognizes the chain of accountability through boards etc, rather than feeling directly responsible for each particular area?

Dr Pascal: That we evaluate the evaluation mechanism.

Mr Ferren: My only comment on the original question concerning teacher training is that the deputy already spoke about that particular issue and that needs to be addressed, there's no question about it, as we pursue the further development of the policy in integration.

But since we've been referring to this Ken Weber book all day, I also would draw your attention to section 13 concerning prevailing misconceptions about integration. There is a section in there, and I think it has a lot of validity. The misconception is: "Teaching in an integrated classroom requires radically different strategies and methods. Especially in elementary school, and especially where a student-centred approach is taken to instruction, teaching methods usually do not vary in any dramatically significant way."

When you move to the secondary school level and it becomes more content oriented, then there are different approaches that are needed.

Mr Callahan: I find back in this report of the select committee on education that one of the problems that was identified was the following:

"We have heard a great deal, not only in this set of hearings but also in our previous deliberations, of the difficulties parents perceive with the IPRC process. Many parents do not know how to find the assistance or advocates they need to work their way through the system. The particular dynamics of the individual committees and board programs for special needs children vary considerably. We recommend that" -- and this was a recommendation made in June 1990; presumably it was the same information, according to this, that had been heard at other hearings -- "the Ministry of Education ensure that all parents have equitable and adequate access to assistance and advocacy services within the identification and placement review process."

Has that been done, or is there anything in the mill planning to have it done? I know one particular lady in my area who acts as an advocate, and she does it gratis. Is there anybody in the board who is an advocate to help them through these?

Mr Ferren: What is being recommended, I know from initial examination of some of the issues that have been raised around the review of the IPRC process -- and it's in it's very early stages, just identifying some of the issues. One of the items that came up is that in that section of regulation 305 concerning a parent guide, they were recommending that school boards prepare and make available to parents a list of the associations that are available within the jurisdiction, within reason, whether it be support groups available or local advocacy associations. That review is just in process now. There may be many boards in the province that are doing that now and I'm not aware of it. Ron may be more aware of that.

Mr Mason: Actually, there are very few boards in the central region that do not list the parent associations in their parent guides. It's almost universal. So that kind of advocacy is there, and in many of the parent guides, I'd say the majority, the availability of an advocate, from wherever, but certainly from the association, is made known to parents through the guide. That's something we encourage. It's not mandated, but we encourage that.

Mr Ferren: To build on that, certainly in the review of the IPRC monograph that the Advisory Council on Special Education has undertaken, they've highlighted the role of the advocate.

Mr Malkowski: Do you mind if I follow up on that point quite quickly? In my understanding of the IPRC process, from a parental perspective, they're not allowed to bring in an advocate or an advocate representative. I'm wondering if that was something that the Provincial Auditor heard.

Dr Pascal: My understanding is that they are. The intent of the question of course was, what advocates are available to help parents understand the process? But my impression was that in fact parents are allowed to have an advocate help them through the process, including being there during meetings.

Mr Callahan: That was the recommendation of the select committee in 1990.

Mr Mason: There are two parts to that, if I may.

The Acting Chair: Perhaps I'll come back to you. I think part of that question was directed to the auditor, so perhaps I can ask the auditor to respond.

Mr Peters: We found in our audit that most boards allowed an advocate to be brought in but some did not. There are exceptions.

Mr Mason: That was my response.

Dr Pascal: Some did not allow it?

Mr Peters: Yes, some did not allow it.

Mr Mason: Could I comment? When that's brought to our attention, we would be in touch with that board to clarify the rights of the parent. It does become the rule of the chair of the IPRC as to who is there and who isn't there, but certainly an advocate is something that is encouraged.

Mr Callahan: That's like western justice, that you get certain justice in one area and -- that is totally unacceptable, I'm sorry. I find it an absolutely outrageous situation that it could continue to exist that certain people in Ontario are getting less quality or less access to justice than others. That's precisely what I read into that whole process.

The Acting Chair: Perhaps we'll follow through with it. Dr Pascal, and then Mr Villeneuve has some time.

Dr Pascal: Very quickly, based on what I've just heard, in fact, practice out there has very much a lot of boards enabling that to happen. When I asked my colleagues to my left, "Do we have the teeth to force what Ron was suggesting in terms of dealing with the boards?" moral suasion is as far as we can go, because it's not grounded in regulation. So there is an issue which requires regulatory clarification.


The Acting Chair: The auditor would like to comment, and then, Mr Villeneuve, you have some time to finish off.

Mr Peters: I agree with both comments. This is precisely what we meant by the accountability framework, because the way it is currently set up, the accountability by the school boards to the ministry, there are breaks in that accountability. That is one of the things that hopefully part of the recommendations of this committee can address, as to whether something can be done to fix those breaks.

Mr Villeneuve: Just a short question: Is the identification of an exceptional pupil a very controversial issue? I have parents who will come to me and say, "My grade 7 child should actually be in grade 9 because she's not learning anything in grade 7; she's way above and beyond," and then we have what we saw on W5 the other night. In the identification of these special students, is there a standard code of practice? Is there a mould? How flexible is it? Is there a lot of controversy?

Mr Mason: There's controversy in the sense that there certainly is a split of opinion in parents on whether they want identification that has a label attached to it. That's controversial. There are groups of people who want that and there are those who don't. The legislation does not require the label; it requires the boards to have the definitions and the criteria by which the identification is going to be made. If the pupil is identified as exceptional, then they identify the needs. As I say, the controversy is whether or not you use a label, and that can be accommodated within the existing legislation by zeroing in on the needs identification if the pupil is indeed exceptional. I'm not sure if that addresses your question fully.

Mr Villeneuve: It goes hand in hand with destreaming, and that's a whole story for another time. But these are some of the questions that come to me, and I'm certainly no expert. There appear to be certain parents who would like this special-needs student, whether it's in reading or whatever, to receive that special training, and it seems to be difficult to identify the word "outstanding."

Mr Mason: You mean the term "exceptional"?

Mr Villeneuve: "Exceptional," yes.

Mr Mason: Again, there are broad definitions that the ministry has provided. This is not in regulation. The only thing is the major categories that are in the act. The ministry has provided, some years back, very broad definitions. The boards are required to put that into detail in terms of their own definitions, and that's part of their special education plan which must be there and available to the public. If they modify that, they have to report that to the minister. So it's the board's responsibility to get into the very narrow bands.

You were asking about controversy. Yes, there are controversies about what that may mean. This is predominantly around either end of the intellectual exceptionality areas, and certainly there's been very little said here about "gifted." If you're looking at controversy around a label and whether it be used and how they're identified, that's probably the area.

That's why I said before, and I will come back to it, the critical part here is to go back to the definition of an "exceptional" pupil. Because somebody has scored, for example, a particular point on a standardized test and has an IQ of a certain number does not mean they are in need of a special education program. We really have to come back to needs and then relate that to the criteria the board happens to use for identification. So it's a big issue. Yes, there's controversy, but if we really look at the existing legislation, a lot can be done within it to really lessen that controversy.

The Acting Chair: Just before we break, we should discuss what we're going to discuss tomorrow for the ministry's ease so certain people can do other work.

I know Mrs Cunningham had an interest in special education to follow up, and she's not back till Thursday morning. My suggestion might be that we start tomorrow morning with curriculum items and continue and follow up on special education. In any event, I think the homework on special education will probably take some time to gather. Subject to any disagreement, I would suggest that we ask the curriculum people of the ministry to be ready to go tomorrow. Is that fine with everyone? Good. Dr Pascal, is that all right with you?

Dr Pascal: Thank you for structuring it that way.

The Acting Chair: Okay, we'll adjourn until 10 o'clock tomorrow morning.

The committee adjourned at 1656.