Tuesday 8 June 1993

Education Statute Law Amendment Act, 1993, Bill 4

Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation

Bob Garthson, vice-president

Lynn Scott, representative, Ontario Coalition for Equity in Education

Larry French, director, external policy and legislative researcher

Suzanne Gremm

Lyle MacDonald

Leslie Fleming

Sue Mogford

Parents of Hard to Serve Children

Fred Thompson, member

Special Education Advisory Committee, City of Toronto Board of Education

Georgina Rayner, chair

Down Syndrome Association of Ontario

Louise Bailey, chairperson, integration committee

Abigail Lapell

Andrea Bailey

Ontario Association for Community Living

Lynda Langdon, member, education committee


*Chair / Président: Beer, Charles (York North/-Nord L)

*Vice-Chair / Vice-Président: Eddy, Ron (Brant-Haldimand L)

*Carter, Jenny (Peterborough ND)

*Cunningham, Dianne (London North/-Nord PC)

*Hope, Randy R. (Chatham-Kent ND)

*Martin, Tony (Sault Ste Marie ND)

*McGuinty, Dalton (Ottawa South/-Sud L)

*O'Connor, Larry (Durham-York ND)

*O'Neill, Yvonne (Ottawa-Rideau L)

Owens, Stephen (Scarborough Centre ND)

*Rizzo, Tony (Oakwood ND)

Wilson, Jim (Simcoe West/-Ouest PC)

*In attendance / présents

Substitutions present / Membres remplaçants présents:

Bisson, Gilles (Cochrane South/-Sud ND) for Mr Owens

Clerk / Greffier: Arnott, Douglas

Staff / Personnel: Gardner, Dr Bob, assistant director, Legislative Research Service

The committee met at 1543 in room 151.


Resuming consideration of Bill 4, An Act to amend certain Acts relating to Education / Loi modifiant certaines lois en ce qui concerne l'éducation.

The Vice-Chair (Mr Ron Eddy): Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, to the standing committee on social development on Bill 4, An Act to amend certain Acts relating to Education, now in session. The first item is the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation. Would the members come forward, please. Sorry, just a moment.

Mrs Yvonne O'Neill (Ottawa-Rideau): Mr Chairman, as that's happening, could I please ask for another clarification. I asked questions about section 8 of our binders yesterday. This is about the American sign language and the Quebec sign language. Since that time I've been informed by what I consider two very reliable sources that the answers I was given were less than complete. I'll leave it at that. I would like to have, therefore, in writing what the outline on page 8 really means, that we will be offering instruction using these two sign languages -- and I have to presume that's ASL and QSL -- where numbers warrant.

My question is, first of all, what are the criteria of "where numbers warrant"? The second question is, is the sign language that is in existence in the Ontario schools today, which has a French and an English written and read form, still going to be a viable option in the schools of Ontario where the numbers don't warrant?

I'm sorry that I'm being persistent, but this is a very important question to every school board and board of education in this province and to the parents of the deaf and hard-of-hearing. There is a great deal of controversy still over this issue in this province. I know there was an advisory committee, but we need the answers in writing.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Martin, do you wish to respond?

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): Sure. We can get that information for you, and will, because we certainly want people to be as clear as we can on these issues. Certainly, the introduction of QSL and ASL is something that's very dear and near to the hearts of the deaf community out there. It was something that was discussed very thoroughly through the Review of Ontario Education Programs for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students. In fact, all of the people, the stakeholders out there in Ontario who sat on the deaf education review, which actually happened under the purview of your government --

Mrs O'Neill: It was begun under our government.

Mr Martin: No, actually it ended before we got here. Recommendations were made. In those recommendations was a bill that came forward under the sponsorship of Richard Johnston as a private member's bill to have ASL and QSL recognized as a language of instruction. All of the members of the various stakeholder groups signed off on that, because they didn't see it as a threat. They worked on the language and got a language that they felt they could live with. I think one of the key elements in that language was as a language of instruction, so that areas that got into it had some room to make sure that it was being used as appropriate.

I'm chairing, as you know, a deaf advisory committee to the minister on this particular issue, how we introduce ASL into the school system in Ontario. We're still wrapping up a final report to the minister around how it will be introduced and then some indication as to how it will evolve. However, before we can really do that, we feel very strongly, and the deaf community particularly feels very strongly, that it needs the security that legislation will provide, that we will in fact do this and that other governments will not renege on that decision. But we will get you that information in writing.

Mrs O'Neill: The possibilities of option are very important in the report I'm requesting. Thank you.


The Vice-Chair: Now to the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation. Sorry for the delay. Would you introduce yourselves, please, when you sit down. We'll have approximately a 20-minute presentation, to be followed, if there is time, by a few questions. Welcome.

Mr Bob Garthson: Thank you. My name is Bob Garthson. I'm vice-president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation. Beside me are Lynn Scott -- she'll be speaking a little bit later -- and Larry French. We're pleased to be here today and to have an opportunity to speak before this very important committee.

You have a brief in front of you. Just by way of introduction, I want to say that given the financial crisis, as established by this government, priorities should be clearly established. All new programs, such as junior kindergarten, should be carefully considered and properly funded by the province. Given the clear and recognized need of special needs students, no action should be taken which would compromise this priority.

In section 1 we've indicated our support for the change in the term, as outlined here, to "exceptional pupil with a developmental handicap."

In section 2 we have a specific recommendation. It's recommendation 1 in our report, that when school board boundary alterations result in the transfer of pupils and/or schools, a joint committee of ministry, employee and employer representatives be struck to negotiate necessary adjustments.

We've indicated some comments on the limit on school suspension, in recommendation 2, that section 12(1)(1.1) be amended by deleting the words following "principal" and the following words substituted: "not exceeding a period determined by the board."

We've indicated our concerns with expulsion in recommendation 3, that subsection 23(3) of the Education Act be amended by the addition of the words "teachers or board employees" following the word "pupil." The new subsection would read as follows:

"Expulsion of a pupil

"23(3) A board may expel a pupil from its schools on the grounds that the pupil's conduct is so refractory that the pupil's presence is injurious to other pupils, teachers or board employees, where...."


In section 5, dealing with notification of conviction, our recommendation 4: That section 28(2) be amended by the addition of the following sentence, "The Minister of Education will not cancel the certificate of the convicted teacher if the conviction is under appeal."

At this time I would like to introduce our second presenter, Lynn Scott. OSSTF is a member of the Ontario Coalition for Equity in Education, a province-wide group of parents and educational associations. The Ontario Coalition for Equity in Education is dedicated to maintaining a universally publicly funded education system in Ontario. Lynn is here to speak on behalf of the coalition, whose position on the issue of the hard-to-serve student designation, OSSTF supports.

Lynn is also the chairperson of the Carleton board's special education advisory committee and is the past president of the Carleton council of parent school associations. I am most proud to have a parent as a member of this delegation. I would turn to her.

Ms Lynn Scott: I am very pleased to be able to be here today representing the Ontario Coalition for Equity in Education, as undertaking a joint effort here with the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation to bring some of our concerns to your attention. Very specifically, we are extremely concerned about the proposals to remove the provisions for hard-to-serve students from the Education Act.

We recognize that this provision in the act is not commonly used by boards of education. However, we believe very strongly that there is an ongoing need to maintain such a provision because of the nature of some of the pupils our boards of education have to serve. As president of a parent association in my own area and as chairman of the special education advisory committee, I have had occasion within the last six months to hear parents pleading for help in finding a suitable placement for their children outside of the public school system.

The reason that parents need this help is that we're not talking about the usual range of special needs here. We are talking about children who have been rejected by the health care system, who have been rejected by the social services system, and in some cases who have been involved in activities that, were they adults, would have put them within the confines of the penal system.

However, these children cannot be rejected by boards of education. Boards of education are required to serve them to the best of their ability and sometimes make extraordinary efforts to do this. Nevertheless, we have cases where students with severe aggressive, violent behaviour, because of mental conditions or physical handicaps or all of the above in combination, injure other students or are potentially capable of injuring other students, and may require several full-time staff assigned to them simply to keep them from harming themselves and others, and at the same time the services of a teacher to provide them with education. We believe that this is a burden financially and logistically which boards of education should not be required to bear alone.

The province, under the terms of the act, does provide for funding for placements. There are special rules so that no child, no family will be forced to put their child into a placement. The same provisions of appeal through a special education tribunal apply, as apply to other types of special placement, so that it cannot be accessed without a considerable degree of investigation of the need and the availability of program within a board, and the agreement of the board and the parents that such a placement is necessary. But we're talking of a lot of money for individual boards, particularly boards in the north and in remote areas.

We feel very strongly that unless and until there is a clear requirement on the health care system and other social services in this province to share the responsibility for these children with boards of education, the hard-to-serve provision should be maintained.

Mr Garthson: If I could just conclude then, recommendation 6 which OSSTF has put forward in support of Lynn's comments is that sections 15 and 16 of Bill 4 be deleted.

That ends our presentation, and we'd be pleased to respond to any questions or comments.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much. Questions at this time?

Mr Charles Beer (York North): Could I just ask, Mr Chair -- I know we have a time problem -- how much time do we have left for questions? I'm quite prepared to split it among the --

The Vice-Chair: I think one question each.

Mr Beer: Okay. My question -- there are a number, but just one, if I may -- is with respect to the hard-to-serve. Have you had a chance to look at the proposal yesterday that was made to us by the advisory council on special education? They proposed an amendment to 15, with arguments certainly along similar lines and expressing the same concerns that you had. I just wonder whether you have seen it. I'd be quite happy to give you mine; I can get another copy. If you haven't seen it, it would be useful for the committee perhaps if you could have a look at it and see what thoughts you had about it. It dealt with the similar issues, and I take it from the way heads are nodding that perhaps you haven't seen it.

Ms Scott: We have not seen it.

Mr Beer: I believe the council had only drafted this late last week, but I think it would be very useful for the committee if you could have a look at it and I will pass it on and end my question.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): Will we go by caucus?

The Vice-Chair: Yes. Ms Cunningham, please.

Mrs Dianne Cunningham (London North): Thank you very much for coming forth this afternoon and giving us these recommendations for consideration. I have a very short question and then I'd like to ask -- maybe you can answer them both at once. First of all, I'd like to know if you were consulted by the government with regard to this bill at all, Bill 4, at any time with regard to the changes, and especially with regard to sections 15 and 16, which affect both our elementary and secondary schools. That's my understanding.

Mr Garthson: I'd ask Larry to respond to the consultation process. Then Lynn may want to say something about that specific one.

Mr Larry French: Actually, we've tracked the bill through its various migrations and names and we have had consultations with the Ministry of Education on several aspects of the bill, finding out about process and sharing concerns on some of the areas that we're sharing concern with right now.

Mrs Cunningham: Could I ask you how you feel about the bill as it exists, the Education Act as it exists, with regard to the hard-to-serve students and if you in fact would offer -- you've offered that the bill remain the same is my understanding, that the act remain the same. I'm wondering if you had given that some consideration with regard to further direction, either through the regs or the act itself, with regard to hard-to-serve students, given your experience with special education advisory committees at the secondary school level.

Mr Garthson: Lynn, do you want to respond to that first?

Ms Scott: Well, I'll do my best. As far as the consultation at the special education advisory committee level within the individual boards is concerned, I cannot speak for the whole province. However, in Carleton certainly we have been following this and the legislation relating to the removal of the trainable retarded designation ever since it first became public.

The issue is very difficult as far as section 35 of the present Education Act is concerned because it is not used very much. It is not a well-known act, and we find, consulting with people and other SEAC members in other parts of the province, that they also feel that even among their own staff and regional ministry offices, this section is not well known or understood as it stands. Nevertheless, I have not heard any suggestions for changing it as much as suggestions to make better use of it as it exists at present.


Mrs Cunningham: You didn't pass judgement on the retroactivity of the existing legislation. Do you have anything to add in that regard?

Ms Scott: My understanding is that essentially no pupils have been designated hard to serve since that date, simply because of a concern that parents or boards of education or both would be jointly stuck with the cost of whatever provisions were made subsequent to June 1992. That is certainly a concern because there are children out there now with need for placements and they are not being adequately served.

Mrs Cunningham: So what happens if it passes?

The Vice-Chair: Thank you. Mr Bisson, please.

Mr Garthson: I wonder if I could -- I think it's a question of a general nature that I could respond to.

The Vice-Chair: Yes.

Mr Garthson: While we have had contacts with people within the ministry on specific items, I represented OSSTF on what was the Learning Programs Advisory Council, which is now defunct, and there is no real formal process for consultation with the government any longer on many educational issues. That included, of course, the consultation on special education that was part of that structure, but there are many, many other areas. So while we have had discussions with the minister's staff and with the ministry on a number of items, the former role -- however imperfect LPAC was, at least it gave us a format and a voice. We had hoped that something better would be constructed. Instead, really nothing has been constructed. That's been true for the whole year, and that creates a serious problem.

Given all the changes that are taking place, all the issues that are out there, it makes it difficult to have an organized consultation process when we often don't find out about a meeting till three or four days before the meeting is set, and sometimes the meeting is cancelled and we don't know about that till we get there. So it has created some serious problems in a number of areas.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Bisson, please.

Mr Bisson: Just a short question: You make a recommendation under section 12 of the bill, one that deals with suspensions. You don't speak about it and I'm wondering if you can clarify. What do we do? Are you in agreement that when a suspension is issued, the student not be allowed to return even during the time of appeal? What are the thoughts of the OSSTF on that?

Mr Garthson: Larry, do you want to start on that one?

Mr French: On the suspension and the appeal function?

Mr Bisson: Yes.

Mr French: We do support that, Gilles, the fact that the student remains on suspension despite the appeal, because it's felt that some of these situations are very, very tense, very difficult to manage, and if the student is left back in the setting after a suspension has been imposed and is put right back in during an appeal, it's very, very difficult. So I think this protection for the school setting is necessary, and that, I think, is a wise provision. It's in the act right now. It's the way the act reads right now.

Mr Bisson: I take it, if I read this correctly, you're opposed to the limitation of 20 days and you want to leave it within the purview of the board itself.

Mr French: Right.

Mr Bisson: Can you give a little bit of the rationale on that? Because it seems to me that different boards, even in the same communities, will deal quite differently with suspensions. How do you balance that off?

Mr French: No, it's quite true and I think it's individual board policy now, but they look over each other's shoulder and they can't get too far out of line one from the other because obviously the public realizes that. There are very few boards now that use longer suspensions, but as we point out in the brief, it's a less legalistic form of diffusing a very difficult situation in some cases, sometimes involving violence, sometimes involving drugs and so on, but very difficult anti-social behaviour.

If you go the expulsion route, then you're under the Statutory Powers Procedure Act and everybody's got a lawyer. The board's got a lawyer; the student's got a lawyer. Boards do it now and then, there's no doubt about it, but there's a lot at stake. If the student beats the board, you know, it's a big thing. Then again, you've got to have the board hearing to get back in. So it's quite a powerful thing, this whole expulsion thing.

The theory of these boards is that if you suspend, it's less of a dramatic sanction, and then at the end of it all there is no legalistic stuff to go through. The student can be readmitted with the consent of the principal or whatever, retimetabled and that sort of thing. That's the thinking behind the longer suspension, where it's used.

Mr Garthson: I think it's important that when you're dealing with these situations, there are so many local considerations, specific, that it's very difficult to make a general rule that's going to be in the best interests of everyone. If the responsibility of the school is to provide a learning environment for all, if you have a situation that doesn't quite fit the norm, you want to make sure that there's flexibility on the part of those people who have the knowledge and the understanding of the specifics of the case to be able to make the right kind of judgement, and that's our concern.

Mr Bisson: I take it I'm out of time?

The Vice-Chair: Yes, sir.

Thank you for your presentations. We appreciate your coming this afternoon.

Mr Garthson: Thank you very much.


The Vice-Chair: The next deputation to be heard is Ms Gremm and Mr MacDonald. Please introduce yourselves. You have approximately 15 minutes for a presentation and possibly questions following.

Ms Suzanne Gremm: My name is Suzanne Gremm.

Mr Lyle MacDonald: My name is Lyle MacDonald.

Mr Eddy, Vice-Chair, members of the standing committee, I am here today presenting on behalf of Suzanne, mother of 13-year-old Brian, a very normal-looking yet severely learning-disabled and troubled youth. This is a very emotional issue for Suzanne and she wishes to have presented to you her concerns re the proposed repealing of the "hard to serve" provision as outlined in Bill 4.

Just yesterday, June 7, 1993, after four long years of struggle and after the complete academic, behavioural and emotional breakdown of Brian -- he had become depressed and suicidal after years of failure in school -- Suzanne was finally able to present his tragic case before a "hard to serve" committee in Sault Ste Marie. We flew here immediately after that meeting.

Brian's future depends on the decision of that committee, which I am confident will be a "hard to serve" designation. The future of that decision, though, depends on the outcome of the government's deliberations regarding Bill 4's proposed repealing of section 35 of the Education Act. It is for this reason that we stand before you today and ask that you hear our requests.

You have before you a picture of Brian. We believe it is important that the committee be able to put a face to the name, that the presentations you hear today reflect the human equation of that which we are discussing. There's also a poem that Brian wrote in October 1992, just prior to his breakdown which necessitated him being put under psychiatric care for a while. I think you'll see by the content of that poem that this is a very troubled boy.

It may well be words on paper that we're talking about here today, but in reality we are talking about handicapped children who may not look handicapped but none the less they are, in our case, a child of normal intelligence but with severe learning disabilities. Their very future depends on the recommendations of this committee.

We would hope that you have taken the time to read Suzanne's May 21, 1993, correspondence, which Mr Martin was so kind to distribute to the committee members, so that you might better understand the four-year nightmare -- and that's exactly what it has been -- that she lived, and so that you can better appreciate her point of reference, the parent's point of reference. Suzanne is a single parent, and to live through the types of things that she has lived through with her son can be quite traumatic and difficult for all parties.

As a parent of a severely learning-disabled child, Suzanne can speak from personal experience of how even a large school board was unable to meet the many needs of her handicapped son, needs which for years, I might add, were unidentified and, once identified, were not able to be addressed within the continuum of placements offered by that particular board of education.

I think that's an important thing to keep in mind, this idea of a continuum of placement options. The options that were available to that school board and to her particular son ranged from five hours' home instruction, which means the boy would not be attending a school and would be at home all day by himself, to get five hours some time in the evening, all the way up to a demonstration school, which really is institutionalization. I think we need to remember that in the field of mental retardation, we are deinstitutionalising individuals.

In the area of psychiatric care, we are talking about deinstitutionalizing individuals, yet in education a viable option for students with severe learning disabilities is to send them hundreds of miles away from their homes, especially if, as in the case of Brian, they live in northern Ontario, and institutionalize them in a demonstration school. How does that help the emotional needs of a child who is already emotionally strained? It's perceived as punishment for failing at school; there's no family support -- a very difficult situation.


Suzanne's only recourse to ensure that her son received the education he so desperately needed, and which is his right, was to access the process of independent review provided for by section 35 of the Education Act, the "hard to serve" process. We would like to emphasize the idea that this is an independent review that is available. All the other provisions in the Education Act involve reviews by staff of the boards who have vested interests, and we all know that often systems are not able to step back from a situation and acknowledge that maybe they can't do the job necessary. The "hard to serve" process, on the other hand, brings in people who are not employed by the board, who are independent and know nothing about this particular pupil.

I think too it's important to point out that in the explanatory notes from Bill 4, when it describes hard-to-serve pupils, "These pupils will be governed by the same provisions that apply to other exceptional pupils," it makes it sound as if "hard to serve" is some sort of clinically defined exceptionality. That's not the case. It was to apply to all children of any exceptionality. It is a process, a system to just determine whether or not children can profit by the instruction that is available from their particular board of education.

Bill 4 is saying, let's get rid of an entire process, not just a designation. It's not a clinical designation, it is a process, and it's somewhat akin to throwing the baby out with the bathwater, I think. As such, Suzanne, as a parent, is obviously seriously concerned about the proposed repealing of these provisions. The elimination of those legal provisions which allow parents of children like Brian to seek out, if need be, independent placements which can provide their children with the basics of education and have that education paid for by the government, which we believe is the government's moral responsibility and duty, to have that eliminated is unconscionable. That may seem like a strong term to use, but it would not seem that way if it were you or I who had to deal with a child so distraught over his inability to learn that he repeatedly expressed that he could see no reason to continue living. This is a 13-year-old boy who wants to commit suicide.

Suzanne Gremm lived that nightmare for four years. I am sure we all sympathize with her and other parents dealing with similar situations, but I am equally sure that unless we have personally been there, we really cannot empathize with those parents. All we can do is be supportive. Section 35 of the Education Act, as it now stands, provides some of that support.

All of us here today must recognize and openly acknowledge the limitations of some boards of education, especially in rural and northern communities, their limitations to accommodate the severe and unique needs of some exceptional children. The government must continue to accept the responsibility of not allowing any child to slip through the educational cracks in the system.

Section 35 of the Education Act serves to plug up some of those cracks. Instead of eliminating the "hard to serve" safety net, it must be retained and the government must ensure its availability, as was originally intended. If anything should be done, the government should direct Ministry of Education officials and boards of education to not resist parents attempting to use a legislated right.

In Suzanne's case, after four years of struggling with her son and then finding out that this process existed, it took repeated written and verbal requests to her board of education. She had to seek legal advice and she had to threaten court action against her school board before it would appoint a "hard to serve" committee. I think this is a sad commentary when we have a common goal of helping the children.

The school board communicated to her that her son was not eligible for a "hard to serve" committee because he was not severely mentally retarded, and I think we all know today that those provisions apply to all children with identified exceptionalities.

As a parent of a severely learning-disabled child, Suzanne would ask the standing committee to acknowledge the existence of special-educational-needs children, such as the one we are describing, by recommending that section 35 of the Education Act at the very least not be repealed. It needs to be strengthened. There needs to be some accountability put in it to ensure that school boards allow parents access to this independent review.

We would also ask that the government acknowledge the existence of children with exceptionalities so unique and needs so great that boards of education are not always able to respond in a manner which will benefit the child. The government must recognize and continue to support, through section 35 of the Education Act, that sometimes the most appropriate education for a child may be available through an independent school, and this should not be seen as a negative thing.

Purchasing services from established independent schools with proven track records in helping severely handicapped children profit from education, which for some of these children is for the very first time, is an option, an avenue, currently available to the Ministry of Education. We think there is no disgrace in recognizing the limitations that sometimes exist when a board of education, despite its best efforts, encounters children who do not respond to the instruction available from that board.

We are not asking that learning-disabled children receive some unfair educational advantage, but rather that they be provided every available opportunity that exists within this province for a basic education in this very competitive world, a world that is very hard for them to exist in. Could there not be provision for the transfer of funds to such independent schools, up to the same amount received by a board of education for such a hard-to-serve pupil?

Just prior to making this presentation, we had some discussion out in the hallway. We were discussing the difficulties that some individuals have with the concept of purchasing a service for a child from a private institution, and it occurred to me that the government of Ontario, although it maintains all the highways in this province, contracts out to private firms to build those highways, and those highways are for the benefit of the people of this province. Nobody ever dreams of saying to the government, "No, you should have your own people who build highways." You contract it out. We're asking for a basic service to children -- education -- and sometimes the government-funded boards of education are unable to do that. We recognize that and we don't hold that against them, because not all boards have the resources and expertise, but don't hold the children hostage to that.

We wish to thank the committee for allowing us this opportunity to speak to you regarding our concerns with respect to Bill 4. As you deliberate on what was said here today, Suzanne would ask each of you to think of your mothers. If you had been a child with severe learning disabilities such as her son, would your mothers have been here today fighting to save section 35 on your behalf? As a mother, Suzanne knows what that answer is. That answer would be yes.

We would like to thank you for hearing our requests and we would be pleased to address any questions the committee may have.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you. Mr Martin wishes to comment.

Mr Martin: I just wanted to say how much I appreciate the fact that you've taken the time to come down and share with us the story that you've just shared. It certainly will be helpful in the deliberations that we participate in here to come to a place where we can find some way of making sure that we are serving all the needs of the children in Ontario, which is what the ministry is about.

I have some information that I wanted to share with you. It sounds like this issue is going to return quite often during the hearings we have, and I think it's important that the folks around the table and those who are interested know what the process is now to deal with students who have special needs in school boards and what's available to them by way of appeal and that kind of thing. So I ask that the ministry prepare a couple of pages so that you might have that and be able to look at it.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you. That will be circulated. Any questions? One question each caucus, please.


Mr Beer: I appreciate we're limited for time, but just a comment and a question. First of all, I want to thank you for coming. I recognize that this would certainly not have been an easy trip.

It seems to me there two things that you've raised. One is, as it happens, the committee is sitting and looking at a bill which is going to change the hard-to-serve process in the province, and at that precise moment in time, it has placed you, in terms of what would be in that legislation, in a situation which is impossible. I think everybody on the committee would say that we need to try to ensure, through the parliamentary assistant to the minister, that in fact your son is dealt with fairly and gets the kind of support that he needs. I think we'll want to follow up with that.

Secondly, in terms of the bill itself, if, as has happened in this case, you are going to experience particular difficulty were this change to be made, recognizing that there are other people out there who simply don't fit into the neat little blocks that we try to construct -- I think that doesn't say that we have all failed, but legislation, almost by definition, cannot cover all situations. You need something that is going to allow you to do that. I think that both yesterday and indeed the witness before you, yourselves, and I suspect others are going to be underlining that. I think as legislators we've got to really probe in terms of: Why is this change being made? Is there something that can effectively replace it? If not, then shouldn't we keep it in place?

My question then is, when do you expect to know the results of the hearing that you were at this morning? Did they give --

Ms Gremm: In a week I would know.

Mr Beer: A week. Perhaps I could ask if you could let the committee know. I'm sure, probably through your own member, you'd be doing that, but that would be useful to us.

Mr MacDonald: The committee was being very helpful to us by saying that they would make a decision in a short time frame. That's one of the difficulties with some of the time frames that already appear in the Education Act and the time frames that appear in the response to Bill 4 put out by the Ministry of Education advisory council. They want to talk about, if they do retain the hard-to-serve provision, that they would have 60 days to make the decision. You can't ask parents to wait 60 days after it's taken years of fighting and years of heartache and years of going to psychiatrists and psychologists. We need to expedite decisions for children who are presenting with this.

Mrs Cunningham: I think that this family has given us an example of what it's like out there and perhaps why there hasn't been a hard-to-serve provision for any child in the province since June 2, 1992. Perhaps that's why the date was picked. I have no idea why anyone would retroactively want to impose legislation of this type; I'll just make that statement.

I think that possibly boards are very nervous about this particular clause within the legislation, but I have to tell you that I was part of the committee that looked at Bill 82. I was on the London board at the time and I certainly know what the intent was. I thought that by this time we would have had an opportunity to take a look at the programs that have been made available in the last 15 years for young people who had been designated as hard to serve and maybe we would have gained from those programs and learned how early intervention would have helped families. That's what the education system's all about, and we're failing, not just in regard to this family but others as well.

I wanted to simply ask a question. Obviously you want the section to remain as is, but I wondered if you had any recommendations or if you would like to expand upon what you've already said, specifically with regard to why this section hasn't been implemented for young people across the province of Ontario. Is there a real reason, either in your own experience or the experience of others in your municipality, as to why the hard-to-serve students are not being dealt with, with regard to the special committee? Do you have any feeling for this?

Mr MacDonald: Yes, we do. When Suzanne became aware of the provision that was available to her in legislation, she had been going through the IPRC process, the identification and placement and review, which are all internal mechanisms. The difficulty with those mechanisms is that the board staff make the recommendations. If you do not agree with it, you can appeal it. Even when the appeal committee agrees with your appeal, which is what happened in Brian's case, it gets sent back to the same committee. So then they will come up with another placement option, but they seem committed to only provide placement options that they happen to have within their own board.

We have repeatedly asked the board of education that we're involved with, "Can you show us in writing where it says that the IPRC has to put down a placement?" Are they not able to say, "We don't have a placement"? They have never responded to that written request, and it's been asked repeatedly.

I think that systems take on a life of their own, as we all know about bureaucracies, and there's a momentum there. There just seems to be a reluctance to say: "This child is giving us real problems. We're not sure what to do."

I work in social services as a behaviour therapist. My definition of a professional is someone who knows when to say: "I don't know the answer. I don't know what to do." I think boards of education need to be willing to step back and say: "I'm not sure we can help this child. Let's go out and find the help. Let's be willing to look at things. Let's be willing to bring in resources."

A lot of school boards too just don't have the resources. They do not have psychologists on staff. The teaching staff don't seem to access the resources that are there.

That brings up the issue of accountability. If there are going to be changes to hard-to-serve, number one, I hope it's not repealed and I hope it's not a retroactive thing. That would be akin to the government wanting to save some money so it suddenly decides, "Retroactive to two years ago, we're going to change the criteria for family benefits, and you have to pay it all back." It just doesn't make sense to do that to people.

I think there need to be additions in the act that force some accountability on educators. Maybe in addition to an independent review of a child to designate hard-to-serve, maybe in order to have some safeguards built in, there could be independent clinicians who review, on an annual basis, the child's progress, especially if there's a concern that this child is in a private school that is only recognized by the government but not funded. Have some mechanism to follow up, have some accountability, even for IPRC placements -- a year later, did the child actually benefit? -- and not just accept what the educators say.

We have documents regarding Brian that we did not want to give to the committee because they are personal documents. They are his report cards. Despite Brian being clinically assessed on four different occasions -- three independently and one by the board, all at the request of Mom, none at the request of the board -- they all demonstrate that he was at grade 2 and 3 reading levels, yet all the way to grade 7, his report cards all state that in reading and mathematics and all the areas he's deficient in, "satisfactory," "satisfactory," "satisfactory."

His assignment in grade 7 was to stand up in front of the class and give an exposé on an Edgar Allan Poe short story that he read, and this boy cannot follow the instructions of a food label package. He loves to cook but he cannot read the directions. If his mother verbally tells him what to do, no problem. He's of normal intelligence and he cannot read. And he got to grade 7. On his report cards it states that if he just tried harder, if he had a better attitude, he would succeed.

I look around at some of the handicapped members of the committee. I'm referring to those of you who are wearing corrective lenses. It's like me saying to you, "If I take your glasses off, if you just had a better attitude, you'd be able to read the sign." But even in this day and age, that is some of the stuff that is written on report cards by teachers. Something has to happen.

Ms Jenny Carter (Peterborough): I'd like to welcome you here and say that we really do sympathize.

I'm a little puzzled about the numbers involved here, because we were told that very few pupils have come under the hard-to-serve regulations. I think the number given us was six overall. Yet I also understand that about one in 10 children has some form of learning disability. So there does seem to be some kind of gap here. Is it that most children who need some kind of special assistance are not diagnosed or that the authorities are unwilling to set up these special committees? Do you think there's a hidden need out there that's not being met? What are we looking at here?


Mr MacDonald: I don't believe that the need is hidden; I think it's very obvious. The question is, why isn't it acted upon? In our case we were told outright, "We don't do that." We had to point out to them that it wasn't their choice, that the government of Ontario had legislated that the parent had the right to request this. To me, as someone with graduate-level in training in psychology, who works in social services and works with handicapped children and adults who have extreme behavioural problems, I don't understand why there is this reluctance of people to identify children. I think some of it is a lack of identification, but even when there is identification, you don't see a lot of progress in the child.

Let's face it, a lot of parents are not the type of people who sit there and thump tables and demand answers. They are intimidated by people. Suzanne is unable to say too much today because this is a very difficult situation for her to be in front of a group of people. We put faith in the professionals. I don't question my doctor, usually. We don't question teachers. We don't question superintendents. These are people who are paid, trained, and we feel, "Well, I guess my son has a problem and that's just the way it is."

In Suzanne's case it was only after seven years that she started to realize how much was ignored. When he was in grade 1 and 2 he always used to write his letters reversed and inverted. Nobody ever told her, "This is serious; we should look at this now." "Oh, it'll be okay."

She had to agree in writing to give up French instruction to Brian. Brian comes from a French background; that's his mother tongue. She had to -- on two occasions -- first give up French immersion and then give up French classes after he was transferred to the English system in order to get some resource assistance. You had to give up that in order to get a little extra assistance, and that little extra assistance proved to be very little and did not help him at all.

Ms Carter: I'm wondering whether, if we had better diagnosis and there was a larger group of children known to have this problem -- as I say, I think there is quite a large number out there -- maybe a given school board could provide special education for that group.

Mr MacDonald: I would think that if there was in legislation the requirement of some sort of screening process prior to grade 1 or grade 2, some sort of diagnostic screening set up in order to catch children -- because we know what the clinical signs are. Even if it wasn't a learning disability, even if we found out this child has some emotional difficulties because of some family situation, it would still give time for the proper government agencies to respond to a child or a family's need.

The Chair: Thank you for your presentation and thank you for coming to see us today.

Mr MacDonald: Thank you very much.


The Vice-Chair: The next presentation will be by Ms Leslie Fleming to the standing committee on social development on Bill 4, An Act to amend certain Acts relating to Education. Good afternoon. Welcome.

Mrs Leslie Fleming: Please excuse me; I'm a little nervous.

Members of the committee, I thank you for the privilege to address this important issue. School boards will be required to operate kindergartens and, after August 31, 1994, junior kindergartens. The Lieutenant Governor in Council will have the power to allow boards to phase in junior kindergarten requirements by September 1, 1997.

I live in York region and have two children, ages three and a half and 18 months. I brought a picture. I elected to speak mainly because they cannot speak. York region plans very strongly to fight this issue and apply for the phasing-in requirement by September 1, 1997, if this bill is passed.

There were 166 school boards in Ontario from September 1991 to June 1992. Eighteen of these boards and three isolate boards do not have junior kindergarten. Out of these 166 boards, 54 are Catholic boards. There is only one Catholic board in the whole of Ontario that does not offer junior kindergarten -- in Wellington.

The public school system makes up 112 of these boards, with 20 that do not offer junior kindergarten. It seems to me a small number that do not offer junior kindergarten, which shows me the program must be beneficial. It seems that junior kindergarten is a program that even though not mandatory, has been running in several schools for years. If it were not beneficial, these schools would have dropped it years ago.

Beachburg Public School is a small school in Renfrew county which I attended a number of years ago. The village population is approximately 1,000 people. They have had junior kindergarten there for the past 20 years. Art Jamieson is the principal at the school. He feels the program's main benefit, although there are many, is that if a child has a learning or speech problem, that can be detected early. Special training may be started and the problem may be eliminated before the child reaches grade 1 or 2. However, there are some problems which may never be fully resolved. The ones that are resolved tend to greatly decrease the amount of money later spent on special education.

The second reason for speaking here is the case of discrimination in the school system. The dictionary definition is "a difference, often unfair, in the treatment of a person or thing." It is very unfair that because my child is not Catholic, he is not allowed to attend junior kindergarten.

Canada is a place where you are not to be discriminated upon because of your colour, religion, race or sex. However, at a very early age our children are taught that discrimination is all right in certain areas. How do you explain to a four-year-old child that he is the right age and should be allowed to go to school like his friends, but he is the wrong religion or lives in the wrong region?

Recently, the Ministry of Education handed the Catholic board in York region a special $12.5-million grant to help tackle a $29.2-million debt. Why is my money being used to help eliminate a huge debt? The Catholic board is also only increasing its taxes by 6.6%, whereas the public board has a hike of 9.6%. The money used to pay this debt could have been used to help fund junior kindergarten in York region. It does not seem fair to the public school children who do not have junior kindergarten that the Catholic school board is so far in debt and has junior kindergarten. Where's the equal education for everyone?

My son will turn four in September of this year. He will not be able to attend junior kindergarten. If York region is allowed to phase in junior kindergarten by September 1, 1997, then my daughter, who is now 18 months, will also not be able to attend junior kindergarten either. She was born in December 1991 and by September 1997 will be almost six years old.

My children are both very bright and advanced for their ages. What a waste not to let them attend junior kindergarten. A mind is a terrible thing to waste, especially when it is young and wants to learn. We know that children learn enormous amounts before they are five years old.

I stayed home with my children to watch them grow, develop and learn. Now I must watch their hearts being broken when they have to wait to attend school. We do not have the money to send them to a private school for junior kindergarten.

Please think hard about this issue and those who are applying for phasing in. York region should have junior kindergarten in September 1994. Help make it happen. Thank you very much for your time.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much for your presentation. Because we are behind, could I ask for one short question per caucus, please. Ms Cunningham, do you have --

Mrs Cunningham: Yes, I guess I do. Is the reason you're here today that other boards have junior kindergarten and you don't? Is that the real reason, the issue of discrimination?

Mrs Fleming: Yes.

Mrs Cunningham: My guess is that if in your community the neighbours were sending their children to child care programs within a school building or otherwise that were publicly paid for, you might choose them for your child too, the socialization programs that are offered with child care. Is that what you're talking about?

Mrs Fleming: I'm talking about that my son will be four years old. He is very advanced. I have been speaking to the senior kindergarten teacher in the area where he would go to school. He is already at grade 1 level in most things.

Mrs Cunningham: Okay.

Mrs Fleming: Because he is three and a half years old and will not be able to enter a school until he is five, I think it is very discriminatory, because the people down the road who are Catholic can go.

My issue is that you either make it available to everyone or you make it available to no one. There shouldn't be any special treatment. Either everyone goes or no one goes. It seems from the statistics I had, which I received from Keith Baird, that most of the schools have had it and have had it running for 20 years. Obviously, it's a very beneficial program. A lot has been done. Why only for certain people?


Mr Randy R. Hope (Chatham-Kent): I was just reading over your comments. Both my children have attended junior kindergarten. I agree with you when you talk about the identification at an earlier stage because my son was one of those who was identified at an early age. Now we've corrected the problem of this disorder that he has.

I would agree that those school boards -- and I guess there are school boards in my area, I guess one of the most financially accountable. But I do agree with you where some of the school boards, and with the time lines, I believe they ought to move quickly and implement junior kindergarten. I believe, while junior kindergarten is important, that child care reform is also another major issue that we must address.

Mrs Fleming: My issue also is that a small place, a population of 1,000 people, can offer junior kindergarten and some place that is so close to Toronto, Richmond Hill, cannot offer it. Why? I even considered, when I came to Toronto, to live in the boonies, way out in no man's land because it is so far away from Toronto, but yet we have junior kindergarten and this advanced technology, near Toronto, doesn't have it. Why?

The Vice-Chair: Thank you for your presentation.

Mrs Cunningham: If I could just add, perhaps Mrs Fleming would look into this. It's my understanding that a particular school board would have to put a lot of capital in. You can check and see. It's my understanding that they're absolutely packed to capacity --

Mrs Fleming: Yes, they are.

Mrs Cunningham: -- and the amount of money for them to physically expand -- I think they tried to expand into church basements and whatnot as well, but I'm not sure. That's the reason I got when I asked a question.


Mrs Cunningham: No, the idea of one the boards within the city limits with no space at all, that capital dollars were very expensive for them as well.

Mrs Fleming: In the last five years, any school that has been built in that region has been built with facilities for junior kindergarten.

Mrs Cunningham: I have the wrong region then. I'm thinking of --

Mrs Fleming: They are packed to capacity. There are a lot of new people moving up there, but all of the schools that were built in the last five years have been built with facilities for junior kindergarten. They're just using it for other options at the moment.

Mrs Cunningham: Mr Beer's just agreed with me. We both looked into this and it was a matter of the capital facilities, of not having the space, although there was an effort at one time. I think three years ago they looked seriously into it, but anyway, I still understand what you're saying. I'm not arguing with you at all. We very clearly understand your question.

Mrs Fleming: Why should we let a child suffer because they don't have the capital?

Mrs Cunningham: I very clearly understand.

Mr Hope: I would like clarification because I disagree with both of you. I would ask legislative research if it could find out what some of the reasoning was behind the delay in JK. That's where we get credible information from and I'd ask that it come from there.

Mrs Fleming: I have a thing right here. At the back of --

Mrs Cunningham: I've attended a board meeting. I don't want to argue with you. Mr Beer has too.

The Vice-Chair: Please, may we have one speaker at a time.

Mrs Cunningham: I don't think the Premier has, and I think it's his riding.

The Vice-Chair: Sorry. Did you wish to respond?

Mrs Fleming: Yes. "Province May Face Fight Over JK." This was in the Liberal, which is a small newspaper and comes out in Richmond Hill. It states, "Predicting the NDP will lose the next provincial election, Cressman suggested the new government may not force school boards to implement the expensive program." So they're hoping they can delay it as long as they possibly can and by 1997 try the phasing-in program if they're made to do it. If they don't, then another government might be in and they can slash the whole program completely.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you for your presentation and thank you for appearing before us today.

Mr Hope, did you want your question answered at this time? Do you want it for York region only or across Ontario?

Mr Hope: Let's look at all those school boards that haven't implemented and let's ask legislative research to compile some information, whether it be newspaper articles, some of the reasoning for why some of these school boards have put the arguments up against JK.

The Vice-Chair: Okay, that clarifies the item.


The Vice-Chair: The next presenter is Ms Mogford. Would you come forward please and introduce yourselves. Approximately a 15-minute presentation; hopefully, some of that can be used for questions. Welcome.

Mrs Sue Mogford: My name is Mrs Mogford.

Mrs Kathleen Haswell: My name's Kathy Haswell.

Mrs Mogford: I am a mother of a severely learning-disabled child, and Mrs Haswell has two children with learning disabilities.

I am here today to beg you not to repeal the hard-to-serve clause. This decision will have disastrous effects on our son's education and his future.

I understand that the Minister of Education feels that appropriate special ed programs and services are available to meet the needs of all the children in this province through either the school boards or residential placements and demonstration schools. Well, I am here to tell you, the committee members, that he is wrong. Although the needs of the majority of learning-disabled children can be met, not all can.

My son Terry is nine and a half years old. His needs were not met in the public system. He is a child with a multiplicity of problems that include an attention deficit disorder, global fine and gross motor dysfluency, perceptual, spatial, auditory processing, short-term memory and language handicaps, yet he looks just like any other normal child.

I would like to give you a brief synopsis of his first four years of schooling, which eventually led him to be designated hard to serve.

He began JK in the fall of 1987. We were called into the school after about a month. He was acting differently than the other children. He was more distractful, would lash out when teased by children, would not cooperate, could not pay attention. We explained his problems to his teacher, who in turn approached the school base support team, but she was told that at four he was too young to label as a child with problems. But even at this age, at four years old, my son knew he was different. He would ask: "Mommy, why can't I do things like the others? They can cut, colour, throw balls. Why don't they like me?"

In the fall of 1988, he entered senior kindergarten. After a month, the same thing happened. We had the same problems. He seemed angry and frustrated. He was developing behaviour problems, they told me, but again he was too young to label as a child with problems.

In the fall of 1989, Terry entered grade 1. After a month, they approached us again. "Terry has behaviour problems," we were told. "He's aggressive. He won't sit in his seat. He won't pay attention. He keeps interrupting. He has behaviour problems because he's adopted."

Now, the social worker scoffed at this idea, because Terry has always been very comfortable with the idea that he was adopted. Nevertheless, the school asked us to place him on a list for adoption therapy. Reluctantly we did this, on the condition that help would be given. This was never done. They still maintained that the problems were behaviour, nothing else.

Instead of giving him help, they put him on a modified program. What this means is that they reduced his workload as well as their expectations of him. His anger and frustration increased. By March 1990, he displayed suicidal tendencies. He was six and a half years old. You have no idea how parents feel when their six-and-a-half-year-old child will say things to them such as: "I don't care if I live or die. I'm stupid. I don't belong in this world."


We informed the school and were told that he had to be tested before remedial help could be given, there was a long waiting list and we'd have to be patient. Upon the advice of his doctor, we had him tested privately by a registered psychologist. The school was surprised by his results but we were not. In addition to the above handicaps, the psychologist also stated in his report that Terry did not have a behaviour disorder. He was a child with at least a normal IQ. In some areas he tested above average, in spite of all his disabilities. He was fully aware of his lack of academic performance and this caused his frustration and anger.

In May 1990, at his IPRC he was declared exceptional. At this time we were also told not to expect too much from Terry because he was multihandicapped. In the fall of 1990, he entered a specific learning disability class at a modified grade 2 level. Math and language art were given in the SLD class; for the other subjects he was integrated into a class of over 20 children. There was also a teacher's assistant there to help him.

Things seemed fine the first couple of months, then the problems started again. He became more and more frustrated. The complaints started coming in regarding his behaviour. In March 1991, he had his second IPRC. The school elected at this time to increase his integration. He was progressing well they told us. They didn't want him to be too dependent on a teacher's assistant and a small classroom. He had to learn to cope with a larger class and less individual attention.

Upon the advice of the doctor, we appealed this decision. The school assured us that his needs would and could be met. They would get back to us. Terry became more and more frustrated. His behaviour deteriorated. He developed an "I don't care" attitude.

The beginning of June 1991, we refused a second placement for Terry because, although it was in a different school, it was exactly the same type of setting he was in before. The board said it would look into matters. On June 7, we placed a formal request for hard-to-serve. Terry had fallen apart, he was depressed, he was uncontrollable. The doctor refused to adjust his medication until the problems with his educational setting were resolved.

All this time the school kept insisting that he was making social gains, and yet the complaints that were coming to me were that he was jumping on top of the desk, shouting at the other children, he slapped the teacher's hand, he was taken out of an assembly because he yanked another child's hair, and all this time they kept insisting that he was still making the gains.

When we did not hear from the board by mid-August, we decided it was time to look elsewhere. In September 1991, he was enrolled at an independent school at our expense. He was put into a grade 2, grade 3 program. At this time, he was at a kindergarten level in reading; math he was at grade 1. He should have been in grade 3.

In October 1991, the neuropsychologist for the board assessed him. The findings were that Terry had not progressed. If anything, he had regressed. No academic or social gains had been made, although he had been in an SLD class and was assisted by a teacher's aide.

Another notation that came out was that his best work was done blindfolded and in a darkened room. Terry has severe attention deficit disorder. One of the recommendations was that he be placed in a cubicle so that he would be in a distraction-free area. Now I ask you, how do you explain to an eight-year-old boy that he has to sit in a cubicle to learn? How do you explain it to his peers? How would you like your children put in a cubicle to learn?

Once we placed him in the independent school, in less than one academic year his reading progressed to grade 2, his math progressed to an early grade 3. In April, he wrote a speech on space travel. Not only was he chosen as a class finalist, he went on to place third in the primary division in his school. In May he wrote a letter recommending his teacher for an exceptional teacher's award. Instead of being told that he is distractful, aggressive and has a behaviour problem, the feedback that I get now is that he is kind, gentle, a loving child, eager to please, but still a very difficult child to deal with.

He is now in his second year at the school. He has done well, although this year he has had a lot of difficulties coping with his disabilities. He has passed and he will be going on now to a grade 4 class.

I do not fault the school board for what Terry experienced in their school. After all, Terry has what's known as the invisible disabilities. I do not believe that they fully understood his medical problems or that they in fact had the time to address his problems. His multitude of handicaps make him a complicated little boy to deal with. They really did try their best.

His present school not only works with him academically but also has helped him with his social skills. He receives therapy every three to four weeks to help him deal with life as well as to improve his social skills. In addition to this, there is a school counsellor who works with him. The school principal has also taken an active role in dealing with him. She has helped him many times with his reasoning skills as well as his problems with peer interactions.

The Minister of Education states that if a child's needs cannot be met by the school boards, residential demonstration schools are available. On May 16, 1991, the Honourable Marion Boyd, then Minister of Education, directed a review team to examine policies, practices and conditions related to the care of students at the provincial schools for the deaf and blind and demonstration schools.

The following findings were reported:

(1) Psychological and social work support for assessments, ongoing consultations and ongoing direct services are not adequate for students in demonstration schools.

(2) Although the admission criteria require that the child be experiencing no serious mental health disorder, the distinction between serious learning disabilities and emotional problems is not always clear and there is generally an interaction between the two.

(3) The demonstration schools serve students with serious learning disabilities. These children also typically have mental health needs for which the schools are not well resourced.

(4) The average stay for each child is one to two years. The children must have no need for treatment of an emotional or behaviour disorder. They must benefit socially and emotionally from a residential program.

(5) The general government direction towards deinstitutionalization in the human services field has been seen in closures and downsizing of facilities serving the developmentally handicapped and in program changes for the children and the elderly. The demonstration schools run against this policy.

The following recommendation was made:

"A process be established by the Ministry of Education requiring that every alternative to residential schools be explored prior to consideration for placement in a residential school."

As you can see by the findings and recommendations of this report, a demonstration school would not be a viable alternative to his present placement.

In addition to the various handicaps, our son also has a severe problem with his drug therapy. Because he is a fast metabolizer, he has to take massive does of medication daily just to function. This medication has to be constantly monitored. This is done by monitoring both his behaviour and his academic performance. His teachers are fully aware of this and at the onset of any changes, they are in telephone contact with us or his doctor so that adjustments can be made accordingly.

Medication is administered a minimum of 11 times a day. Monitoring his medication has always been a difficult task and it always will be, but the prognosis for our son is positive as long as he receives the proper medical attention and his academic needs are met. This won't be done if section 35 is repealed.


My son was designated "hard to serve" on June 18, 1992, a little more than two weeks after the retroactive June 2, 1992, deadline. Our initial request to have him designated was made in June 1991. He should not be penalized because of the school board's delays and bureaucratic problems. We followed all the proper procedures.

It was a long and stressful ordeal, and now the government is telling us that this was all in vain: There's no such thing as "hard to serve" and he is not entitled to funding and never was. This is unjust. How can the government take away a remedial benefit from a handicapped child? How can they say that the past two years never happened? I also have a letter from the government stating that, pending changes in the legislation, the government may ask us to refund them the cost of his education. Again, I say this is unfair.

Please do not cast my son aside. He has his problems, yes, but he is a bright child who has a right to an education just as well as any other child. He has finally found some happiness, understanding and a sense of belonging. Don't take this away from him. His needs cannot be met by the school boards. They have already admitted to this fact. Because of his numerous medical problems, he would not benefit from a residential setting.

I would like to read you a letter that he wrote this past October:

"I have ADD. I have a problem concentrating and when I do my work I'm stressed out.

"The kids won't play ball with me. The girls kick me sometimes.

"The first couple of weeks I thought I had friends, but the way it turns out, I have a couple of friends.

"This past couple of weeks I have not finished my work. This makes me feel left out. I feel that there is nothing to do when I'm outside.

"When I can't concentrate, everything is racing in my head. I'm not doing well in my reading. This makes me feel sad. It's stupid and I don't understand."

What will happen to our son? Where does he fit in? The ministry has an obligation to ensure that he has an equal opportunity to an education. If section 15 of Bill 4 is passed, our son's right to an education will also have been repealed. Our son has been saddled with many problems, but he is learning to cope with them. Please don't force him to cope with life without an education.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you for your presentation and coming forward today and sharing this important information and problems.


The Vice-Chair: The next presenter is the Parents of Hard to Serve Children.

You're going to remain at the desk, are you, Ms Haswell?

Mrs Haswell: Yes.

The Vice-Chair: Good afternoon. Please introduce yourselves and proceed with your presentation, if you would.

Mr Fred Thompson: My name is Fred Thompson. I'm accompanied by Mrs Kathleen Haswell and Mr Tom Leverty.

We are members of a group of parents with mentally handicapped children. Some of our children are severely learning disabled. Some have Tourette's syndrome. Some have foetal alcohol syndrome. They may be dyslexic, aphasic or autistic or have attention deficit disorder. It has been proven time and time again that our children are intelligent and that they have potential, but they've not been well served in the school system. Some have been very badly served. Some have been out of school for months at a time because their school systems refuse to serve them, and they have not been served at all. Our children are hard to serve.

Mr Leverty's child has been denied access to a hard-to-serve hearing by lack of response by his board. Mrs Haswell's child has had a hearing but she lost, even though the board does not provide any special education classes or services at the high school level at her board. You've heard Mrs Mogford, and others of our group have similar problems.

In our province, each child is guaranteed an education that will meet that child's needs. There is a piece of legislation that exists to provide appropriate educational services for hard-to-serve pupils, but section 15 of Bill 4 will repeal that legislation, which is section 35 of the Education Act, as I'm sure you're aware.

The Education Act places the responsibility of providing educational services and special education services squarely on the shoulders of the minister and his ministry. The Education Act, subsection 8(3), states, "The minister shall ensure 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," and subsection 2(3) states, "The minister is responsible for the administration of this act."

The Minister of Education's Bill 4 will deny the remedial benefit of the Education Act to disabled children. We believe that the minister is an honourable man and that he would not purposely take a benefit away from a disabled child. We believe that the minister has been duped by his ministry into thinking that section 35 has no purpose. We believe the ministry has purposely misinterpreted section 35 and has given the minister wrong information. We believe that this misinterpretation has been systematic and has had the effect of denying services to many hard-to-serve disabled children.

In a current human rights case concerning the ministry's refusal to comply with section 35, which was section 34 when the case was launched, the systemic investigations unit of the Human Rights Commission reports the ministry's response. That response clearly shows the ministry's position. We will read that response and we will give you nine reasons why that response is perversely wrong and is a misinterpretation. We will show you how the ministry's position goes against the wishes of the Legislature that enacted section 35. I will read the ministry's response:

"Prior to the disposition of the complainant's court action, ministry counsel spoke with the original investigating officer. The ministry's position at the time was that the complainant did not qualify under section 34 of the Education Act as a hard-to-serve pupil.

"Before Bill 82, which amended the special education sections of the Education Act, section 34 of the act allowed school boards to have, with respect to children deemed to be trainable retarded, (1) an admissions committee and (2) an exclusion clause, which could be invoked by a board that believed that the trainable mentally retarded child could not benefit from instruction. Bill 82 took away admissions committees; boards were required to provide service to trainable mentally retarded children. Sections 72-78 of the amended act required that boards provide special schools and/or classes for students identified as trainable mentally retarded. The amended section 34, which dealt with the inability of a pupil to benefit from instruction, was a safety net for section 72. The ministry maintained that section 34 was meant to apply to trainable mentally retarded pupils and was not intended to deal with learning disabilities. Because the complainant had a learning disability, it was felt that he did not qualify under section 34.

"Ministry counsel, by way of denying the allegations of discrimination, pointed out that the complainant had not been assessed as having a mental handicap as per the special education provisions of the Education Act, and specifically section 34 of the act."


We believe that the ministry has no grounds on which to base their opinion and more than adequate grounds to reverse their opinion. The ministry must have been aware of at least nine relevant points which they had to ignore in order to hold their opinion. We will spell out those nine points.

First: When any act is amended, those sections which are changed or deleted no longer apply in their previous form. Bill 82 amended the Education Act with the statement in section 7: "Section 34 of the said act is repealed and the following substituted." In other words, the previous section 34 no longer applied. The ministry had no reason to assume that the new section 34 had any reference to the previous section 34.

Second: The type of pupil the new section 34 was intended to serve was one with "a mental handicap or a mental handicap and one or more additional handicaps."

The new section 34 made no exclusive reference to the trainable retarded, either singularly or as a group. The ministry had no reason to think that the legislation was meant only for that group.

Third: The ministry claimed that section 34 was a safety valve for section 72, or sections 72 to 78 of the amended act.

Sections 72 to 78 make no reference to section 34 and vice versa. There is no cross-reference of any kind. The ministry had no reason to assume there was a unique connection between the two sections.

Fourth: The difficulty with section 34, now section 35, revolves around the definition and interpretation of the term "mental handicap," and therefore what type of child may be considered mentally handicapped in order to be eligible under section 35 to be declared "hard to serve."

The ministry has maintained that section 35 was only meant for the trainable retarded pupil. The Education Act in section 1 contains a definition:

"`Trainable retarded child' or `trainable retarded pupil' means an exceptional pupil whose intellectual functioning is below the level at which he or she could profit from a special education program for educable retarded pupils."

According to the Education Act, the trainable retarded are not educable.

On November 18, 1980, the Honourable Bette Stephenson, Education minister, made the following statements in the Legislature:

"I believe it was approximately seven years ago that work was begun on the drafting of what might be considered legislation in order to ensure that all exceptional children in this province would receive the benefit of an education program designed to help them meet their full potential.

"I believe the bill we introduced, the amendments which we have accepted and those amendments which we are proposing today will allow us to move in that direction responsibly in order to ensure that our children are well served."

Mr John Sweeney, Liberal Education critic, responded in the Legislature November 25, 1980, when he spoke about amendments he had proposed which had been accepted and which defined the type of child who would be considered hard to serve. I quote Mr Sweeney:

"When this bill was first introduced, I had made it very clear that there were two aspects of the current section 7 of the bill that troubled me greatly and that would have to be changed before it could get my support.

"I made it clear that...the school board had a responsibility to every single child admitted to its jurisdiction, either to meet the child's needs itself or to find an alternative program somewhere else. Quite frankly, it does not matter where else it is as long as it meets that child's needs.

"The other part of section 7 I insisted had to be changed in some way was to provide an appeal mechanism for parents, because we spoke at that time of the number of parents in this province with children, particularly with severe learning disabilities, and the experience they had with their particular school boards.

"Last week, I introduced four amendments dealing with the broader interpretation of the hard-to-serve pupil in this legislation. Instead of limiting the hard-to-serve pupil to `one who is unable to profit by instruction,' I added the words to make it read `unable to profit by instruction offered by the board.' That was done with care and consideration. The point I want to make here now is that we have, under the jurisdiction of the boards of this province, children who, for whatever reason, simply are not getting an adequate education as offered by their boards.

"Those children are going to be defined as hard-to-serve children. Section 7 speaks to them. By adding the words `offered by the board' after `instruction,' what I am clearly referring to is any child for whom the board has done the best it can, but for whatever reason is simply not able to meet that child's needs, whatever those needs might be, whether they may be needs of care or educational needs. Therefore, that is the specific purpose of adding those words. I would suggest it is a significant addition. It is not just put there for fluff.

"I can say that the amendments I made available to the minister, which were intended to broaden the definition of what a hard-to-serve pupil is, have all been brought forward."

Mr Sweeney's amendments broadened the interpretation of a hard-to-serve pupil from "one who is unable to profit by instruction," who could conceivably be uneducable and trainable retarded, to "one who is unable to profit by instruction offered by the board." He then went on to clarify who those children were. Those amendments were accepted and became a part of section 34, now section 35.

When one is concerned about the meaning of legislation, one can look to the debate of the legislation. The ministry must have been aware of the debate, yet the ministry has not been concerned about the meaning of Mr Sweeney's amendments and has ignored the debate in the Legislature.

Fifth: Dr Bette Stephenson, on January 27, 1987, wrote a letter to clarify the meaning of "hard to serve." I'll quote a part of that letter:

"As the minister responsible for the introduction, promulgation and implementation of Bill 82, the amendment to the Education Act which mandated special education and services for exceptional children, I am pleased to respond to your request for the definition of the phrase `hard to serve.'

"Although many of the examples cited by members in the lengthy discussion within the social development committee of the Legislature were those of children with significant mental retardation, the phrase `hard to serve' was never intended to apply to any single group of exceptional children. `Hard to serve' applies to children whose combination of exceptionalities is so unique or so complex that it would be virtually impossible for any one board of education or, in certain cases, even a consortium of boards pooling their resources, to meet the needs of that child under the act.

"I hope this information will be of assistance to you."

Dr Stephenson was the Minister of Education who authored Bill 82 and section 35. She was certainly the best interpreter of the bill. The ministry was given a copy of the letter. The ministry chose to disregard Dr Stephenson's letter.

Sixth: Two of our members, in 1986, visited the offices of Dr Bernard Shapiro, Deputy Minister of Education, to ask that a hard-to-serve placement be facilitated. They were accompanied by Richard Allen, who was then the NDP Education critic.

A senior staff member of the ministry also attended and made a statement to the effect that because of the term "mental handicap," section 34 was only meant for the severely retarded or trainable retarded, and that was in accordance with the Interpretation Act. Dr Shapiro did not disagree. The ministry still holds that opinion.

We have since examined the Interpretation Act. It does not support that view. It contains definitions of various developmental retardations, but no definition contains the term "mental handicap."

On the contrary, the Interpretation Act states in section 10:

"Every act shall be deemed to be remedial...and shall accordingly receive such fair, large and liberal construction and interpretation as will best ensure the attainment of the object of the act according to its true intent, meaning and spirit."


The interpretation that the ministry put on the term "mental handicap" had, and has, the exact opposite effect to the true intent, meaning and spirit of section 34 and the Education Act as debated. It was and is a mean-spirited, restrictive interpretation which could only have been meant to deny access to services.

Seventh: If the legislators had meant section 34 only for the trainable retarded, they could have written it so. They did not. The ministry seems to think that "mental handicap" means "developmental handicap," but the legislators did not restrict the section that way either. The ministry has misinterpreted "mental" to mean "developmental" and has ignored the wishes of the Legislature and the demand of the Interpretation Act to use a broad definition.

Eighth: If the ministry were concerned about the definition of "mental handicap," it had to look no further than the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In section 15, equality rights are asserted for every individual, including those who are mentally disabled or handicapped. Charter definitions of "mentally disabled" include the learning-disabled.

The charter is paramount over all legislation in Canada and the provinces. The ministry has a duty to be aware of charter provisions and to act accordingly. The ministry chose to ignore the charter.

Ninth: The first time that section 35 was used successfully, the ministry refused to comply with the provisions of the act. The case was taken to the weekly court of the Supreme Court of Ontario. The ministry lost and was ordered to comply. The ministry appealed to the Court of Appeal, where it lost again.

In the one case, the ministry was ordered to comply by the Supreme Court. In other cases, the ministry has chosen not to accept its responsibilities and has ignored the significance of the Court of Appeal decision.

The ministry has disregarded nine profound reasons to find that a learning-disabled student is mentally handicapped and is eligible under section 35 of the Education Act. It is clear that section 35 has been wrongly misinterpreted. What has been the result?

Many parents trying to obtain help for their disabled children have inquired at the ministry and at their local boards about section 35. They have been denied hearings based on this misinterpretation, yet section 35 itself states in subsection 2 that if a parent believes their child is unable to profit by instruction offered by the board, the board "shall" appoint a committee. As you know, the word "shall" is imperative. A hearing must be held. Yet many boards refuse to appoint committees, and the ministry fails to enforce its own legislation.

Why has the ministry taken the position of denying disabled children what is rightfully theirs; at the very least, to be heard? Why has the ministry misinterpreted section 35? Perhaps you should ask the ministry. Our own belief is that the ministry wants nothing to do with independent schools, because that's the option made possible by the Legislature through section 35. When a public school cannot provide an appropriate placement for a disabled child and an independent school can, often at less cost, then shouldn't the disabled child have that opportunity?

For example, the ministry's demonstration schools -- Trillium, Sagonoska, Jules Léger and Robarts -- cost the province $52,000 per student per year. These are residential schools for the severely learning-disabled. They have absolutely no record of success. One of the best residential independent schools for the severely learning-disabled children in North America, the Gow School, costs about half as much. It is also very successful, with virtually all of the graduates going on to university, often in Canada. I can state personally that the children who attend the Gow School are all severely learning-disabled.

One of our members has a child who, after experiencing terrible failure and trauma in his local school, has entered an independent school where an appropriate program is being provided, at a cost of $5,400 per year, about the cost of an ordinary student in an ordinary class. That child was not an ordinary student, and his class in the local school was a special class with a cost of approximately $18,000 per year. If he should be forced to go back to that special class, where he was not being served well, the cost will once again climb to around $18,000.

Ontario could spend less money, while achieving excellent results, if section 35 were allowed to be used. But section 35 has not been properly used. The first time that section 35 was used successfully, the minister refused to comply with the provisions of the act until ordered by the Court of Appeal. Since then, a few of our members have used section 35 successfully. The ministry, instead of accepting the direction of its previous court loss, has threatened court action again with some of those parents.

That is very vindictive, because the legislation gives the ministry no option in the matter once a board has declared a pupil hard to serve. But the vindictiveness does not end there. Bill 4 states, in clause 15(2)(a), that the ministry will pay the cost of placement before June 2, 1992. There are only a few such instances. Most cases of hard-to-serve pupils are after June 2, 1992. Clause 15(2)(b) states that Ontario is not liable to pay the cost of placement after June 2, 1992. As indeed the previous witness has testified, the ministry has gone so far as to inform parents of this group that the ministry is going to want its money back. That is terribly threatening, particularly when a disabled child has legally and properly received a benefit under Ontario law.

Clause 14(1)(c) of the Interpretation Act states, "Where an act is repealed...the repeal...does not affect any right, privilege, obligation or liability acquired, accrued, accruing or incurred under the act...." Bill 4, clause 15(2)(b), goes against this.

The Interpretation Act states, in subsection 1(1), "The provisions of this act apply to every act of the Legislature...." I would like to remind you that section 10 of the same Interpretation Act states, "Every act shall be deemed to be remedial...."

There's nothing remedial about the repealing of section 35. There's nothing remedial about the retroactive grab to get money back. Even though the Ministry of Education lost over the use of section 35 at the Court of Appeal, and even though it is before the Human Rights Commission, the ministry is attempting to prevent further use of this legislation by repealing it. This exhibits a callous disregard for making help available to disabled children.

We believe that the minister wants to ensure that services and programs are available to all exceptional children, notwithstanding their handicap or disability, and will not revoke this benefit allowed to exceptional pupils who cannot be served through a local school board. We feel confident that the minister will not discriminate against pupils with neurological mental handicaps, such as dyslexia, minimal brain dysfunction, foetal alcohol syndrome, developmental handicaps and attention deficit disorders, when the minister, in the same Bill 4, responds to the unique needs of children with medical disabilities who require services under the Mental Health Act and the minister is allowing payment for the cost of the medical services not paid for by the Health Insurance Act and the cost of education outside Ontario. It's on page 3, section 35 of Bill 4, "Education costs outside Ontario."

Furthermore, the minister provides preschool language stimulation programs for exceptional children with hearing impairments and special education programs for developmentally handicapped adults, thereby responding to the exceptional needs of pupils with other disabilities.

When you consider section 15 of Bill 4, we ask you to consider the true meaning and intent of section 35 and how it has been misused. We ask you to consider the Interpretation Act. We ask you to consider the economics of obtaining successful results for less money. We ask you to consider the mentally handicapped children of this province.

We ask you to hold section 35 in place and to tell the ministry to allow its proper use, or at the very least to hold section 35 in place until an appropriate alternative is made available. Otherwise you will also be responsible for taking a benefit away from disabled children, and they are the most vulnerable members of our society.

That is our presentation. We have provided an addendum that specifies school costs and includes Dr Stephenson's letter.

On a personal note, I would like to mention that the Court of Appeal case concerned my son. Because he was able to access an appropriate program, he was able to use his potential and is now in his final semester at university, with two open job offers on graduation.

We would like to thank the committee for hearing us. Thank you.


The Vice-Chair: And the committee thanks you for your presentation and presenting this very important information. We regret that there is not time for questions at this time, but thank you.

Mr Thompson: I understand.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Bisson, did you --

Mr Bisson: The point I want to make, Mr Chair, is that we have about a half-hour and two presentations and a vote coming up in the House, so we're very tight for time.

The Vice-Chair: Yes, we're very restricted for time.

The next presenters are Metro Toronto Networking Committee for SEACs. Would the deputation come forward. In the meantime, Mr Gardner has asked for a clarification while all of the members are here. Would you like to go ahead?

Mr Bob Gardner: Very briefly, if I could just clarify the research that the members want on why the boards identified by the ministry will not be able to implement junior kindergarten by September 1994, probably the most reliable way for me to get that information is to fax a quick letter to those boards asking them. So if members smile on that, I'll be able to take care of that.

What I want to get permission from you for is what to say in that letter. I've drafted a little something on my screen here with some preambles about what the committee is doing, its hearings on Bill 4 and what not. I would say that:

"In briefings to the committee, the ministry has identified a number of boards that will probably not be fully implementing junior kindergarten by September 1994 and will require an exemption to phase in. Your board was one of the boards identified. I've been asked by the committee to provide information on why boards will not implement JK by September 1994. Could you please briefly indicate the main reasons your board feels it would not be implementing JK?"

Is that kind of thing satisfactory to members, or do you want to be more specific in the kinds of issues you want them to address?

Mr Hope: I think in general they will respond, but I would like for legislative research to check newspapers as to the effect which --

Mr Gardner: Of course.

Mr Hope: They have a tendency to talk a little bit more openly to the press about what the real issue was behind a thing than in an answer that comes from the school board on direction. I would like to know what was said at the time the decisions were made to either withhold or -- I'm sure there was always public debate about this.

Mr Gardner: Mr Hope, the other option then is -- this is very short notice to boards. They may not feel too comfortable in responding. We can not do this, and we can search newspapers both provincially and locally. If the newspaper search is sufficient, we can certainly do that and not contact the boards directly. Is that okay?

Mr Hope: That would be sufficient for me, yes.

The Vice-Chair: Agreed?

Mr Beer: And to note that most of the boards will be coming in to present before the committee. We can ask a bunch of questions.

Mr Gardner: Okay, so we'll simply do the newspaper search and whatever other material we can get together. Thank you.


The Vice-Chair: Would members of the deputation introduce themselves, please.

Mrs Georgina Rayner: We are two of the representatives on the special education advisory committee from the Toronto board. I'm Georgina Rayner, and I represent the Ontario Association for Bright Children, and next to me I have Carol Jones, who represents the learning disabilities association. I also sit as a member of the Metro Networking Committee on SEACs. Thank you to the members of the committee for allowing us to present some of our concerns dealing with Bill 4.

We would like to point out that we are in favour of most of the items included in this housekeeping bill, but we have concerns about one item. We are gravely concerned with the removal of the "hard to serve" label from the Education Act. It has been the understanding of the associations that this label was the last safety net to protect the vulnerable child whose needs could not be met by any of the existing educational forums.

Bill 82 guaranteed universal access to special education for every child in the province. By repealing section 35, you are denying there are any hard-to-serve pupils out there. We all know there are many children, even if only 12 cases have come forward and only a few have been heard.

One thing we must remember is that the education system cannot be all things to all people. All children cannot be made to fit the mould. Ontario has prided itself in education and its ability to provide program needs for children, not children to fit programs. Smaller boards in Ontario could not possibly pay the costs of educating some of the special needs children who fall into the hard-to-serve category.

I come originally from Kenora and if there was money available, the services for treating children with psychiatric problems were not available. The services just don't exist. We have been told that these children could be serviced in section 27 programs. This is not a realistic explanation.

I'm going to point this out by a sample. At the present time, the Toronto board runs the McCaul Street school in conjunction with the Ministry of Education. The school is associated with the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry. This collaboration between health and education has proved successful. There are approximately 250 elementary and 20 secondary students who go to this school and receive active treatment from the Clarke.

The Clarke has informed parents and the school that the transition program and the day treatment program for children will be phased out next year. What will happen to these children? They are at this setting because of their severe psychological and social needs, complicated by disorders such as attention deficit disorder. They have already experienced failure in the school system. All interventions have been tried. This is their last hope. Where will they go? Someone suggested the Hincks Treatment Centre. There's a long waiting list.

Will these children become hard to serve? How will you guarantee their rights to an active education? Parents of these vulnerable children already have enough emotional baggage without following legislative changes which may eventually take their child's rights away. Will boards like the ones in Metro be expected to provide psychiatric treatment as part of their special education plans? One part of this bill actually insinuates that parents must repay the ministry the funds received for children designated hard to serve after June 2, 1992. Is this not blaming the victim? Imagine the audacity of these parents to have a child with special needs who could not be serviced in our educational system.

Removal of the hard-to-serve label is not bad as long as there is a new support network in place. We do not know what the future will hold for our Education, Health and Community and Social Services ministries. Hard-to-serve pupils may yet be unborn. They may come from premature babies rescued with new medical technology. Drug addicts, crack babies, foetal alcohol syndrome, health issues like AIDS and environmental pollution: There must be protection for the future as well as the special children we already have. With the move towards integration and inclusion, without adequate supports and finances in place, there is concern that there may be underservicing.

There are many social changes occurring now and in the future. There will be ongoing changes to our education and how we deliver it. Special education will also be impacted by other legislation, like consent to treatment, when it is proclaimed. In all our work with parents and accessing a system there's no clear-cut way of servicing the whole child. By having different ministries responsible for different aspects of the child's life, we end up losing very important rights and privileges that every citizen of this country should have.

Please remember to look at the whole child and make sure that the safety nets are in place. The children are our future. In order to be fair and equitable, you have to treat them differently to meet their needs.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you for your presentation. I regret there is not time for questions. We have other presenters, so thank you.

The next presenters are the Down Syndrome Association of Ontario and the Ontario Association for Community Living. Would you please come forward.

Mrs Cunningham: Just while the next group is coming forward I have a couple of questions for the researcher. There have been a couple of statements today, and I'm not sure whether they are correct or incorrect, but I certainly don't think we need to worry our community of parents any more than they already are concerned.

The statement that people would be asked to pay back the government of Ontario, given that this legislation is passed: I think we need some clarification with regard to that. At first glance, that would be my understanding. It isn't anything that I'm passing on. It was a concern I raised today in the House actually. We need a clarification very quickly because if people are taking that thought home and that isn't the intent, we need that to be clarified and I'd like to know that as soon as possible.

The last two presenters mentioned it, and if that's not the intent, if that's not what's going to happen, I think they should be called immediately.

Mr Beer: If I could strongly support what Mrs Cunningham has just requested, I think that clarification is needed, and I would think everyone would want it. I think there is some importance because we've heard that from a number of witnesses today.

The Vice-Chair: Does anyone wish to respond to those comments at this time, or will that come later?

Interjection: Later.

The Vice-Chair: Later? At the next meeting.



The Vice-Chair: Presenters, would you introduce yourselves, please.

Ms Louise Bailey: Just before I do, could I get some clarification of how much time we have so that we can chop as necessary? Because I understand we're tight for time.

The Vice-Chair: Yes. We hope to go till 6 o'clock. However, we may be called in for a vote at -- I'm not sure what time that can happen. Very soon, perhaps 10 minutes. Sorry about that.

Ms Bailey: That's all right. I am Louise Bailey from the Down Syndrome Association of Ontario. This is Lynda Langdon, who's representing the Ontario Association for Community Living today. On my far left is Andrea Bailey and this is her friend, Abigail Lapell.

What we're going to do in order to save time is basically go through a very brief opening statement. I think we will pass around some questions at the end for you that we were going to go through with you, but we hope that you will take those questions back to your caucuses, back to your Education critics and back to into the House. I think the girls have something very important to say, and since they're the children we're really talking about, we figure it's more important that they be heard than us.

Very briefly, we want to say that we're pleased to be here to give feedback around Bill 4 because, as you know, the ministry has come out with a policy related to integration, and finally integration for our children is in sight. But we also have to say that we're very tired of trying to drag out appropriate legislation from the Legislature. When we look around the table, we see some familiar faces. You know that there have been injustices to our children for many, many years that we're hoping to redress.

Lynda and I have been at this for 10 years, when her daughter was eight months old and my daughter was two. Now our kids are 10 and 12, and we're still here.

Ms Lynda Langdon: We're tired of coming here all the time.

Ms Bailey: That's right and we'd like to do something else. We've been through three ministers of education, we've gotten three commitments to integration, and finally we have this bill, which we think deals inadequately with removing the TMR label and closing the Metropolitan Toronto School Board. It's too fuzzy. There are enough loopholes there to drive a convoy of trucks through. It appears to me and to Lynda that the TMR label is really going to go underground and resurface in another kind of dress, and that the Metro Toronto school board is going to be left with its funding and its resources intact so that boards are going to have to purchase service from it in order to integrate their previously referred to TMR students. If these students no longer exist, why do we need that board?

We have many more concerns about what's not in the bill than what's in it. Basically, why don't you take a couple of seconds to talk about that, and then we're going to shift to the girls.

Ms Langdon: We would also like to say, especially in the light of some of the previous discussions that you've obviously had this afternoon, that we do fully support the repeal of the hard-to-serve provisions. As far as we're concerned, if we can afford to spend thousands of dollars to send people to private schools in the States, we can afford to spend thousands of dollars to educate them here in Ontario. So we absolutely support that repeal.

In terms of section 8, we support the revisions, as Louise said. What we would like to see are further safeguards to ensure that the resources that are currently with those students go with them. If we're going to return students back to six boards in Toronto, we have to send the resources back with them.

One of the concerns of parents in the Metro Toronto school board for some time has been that they have inadequate access to representation, as the rest of us do through SEACs. Even though their students may be in a school building somewhere in North York or Scarborough or whatever, they aren't owned by North York or Scarborough or whatever, and so the parents don't have access to SEAC, and that's a very important vehicle for all of us as parents to use.

We also think that it's going to be extremely important -- we were a little bit concerned in Bill 4, under section 9, where it just describes at the front what the bill is about. It makes reference to the fact that students with the TR label are now going to be referred to as "exceptional pupils with developmental handicaps." We don't object to those words. Those words are fine. I think we've often said let's sort of call a spade a spade. We usually do use the words "developmental disabilities" instead, because we think our children have a disability and they only have a handicap when other people put them into a situation where they are handicapped by other people's attitudes, not by the children themselves.

Our concern is that we don't have any sort of breakdown of two kinds of groups. We often have this TR label and the ER label. Some boards call it FLS, ES, some boards call it -- different kinds of things. We want to be sure that we don't subcategorize students who are now going to be not labelled by this bill, which maybe sounds a little bit backwards, but that is our concern.

Because of time, I'm not going to go over the questions that we have for you, although I really want to. If you don't get called up for that vote, I will go over some of these questions.

Our most important question is, in the light of a number of things that have happened over the years that have been very encouraging, is there any possibility that Bill 4 can be further amended to include provisions for children with exceptionalities to be guaranteed entitlement to inclusion in local neighbourhood schools with adequate supports to ensure that they have a successful educational experience? In other words, can they have what everybody else takes for granted? I'll turn it over to the girls now.

Ms Bailey: Abigail and Andrea have been friends since grade 4 and they have written presentations for you today. Abigail will also be reading a statement from Andrea's friend, Kilby McGregor, who couldn't be here today because she had to go to audition to be in a choir.

I think that when you hear from them, you will see why we feel integration is so important. We don't really need to continue to do this two-step; let's just do it now with this bill.

Andrea, I would like you to start with your speech. You want Abigail to go first? Abigail, will you go please go first.

Miss Abigail Lapell: Okay. Before I start, I'd just like to say I'm really pleased to be able to come here. I think that most of what I'm going to say today, I can probably be representing my class in most of this.

I have a few words to say, but before that I'm going to say something on behalf of my friend, Kilby Smith-McGregor, who couldn't be here today. She wrote this:

"Hi, my name is Kilby Smith-McGregor. I'm sorry I couldn't be here today but I would still like to say a few things about my friend Andrea. Andrea is an individual with her own needs, interests and talents. My school, Avondale, is an alternative school for self-motivated learners, individuals who can work in a group. This environment is, I'm sure, as beneficial to Andrea as it is for the other students.

"In our class, we have people of different ages, different backgrounds and different strengths. The prospect that Andrea might not have the opportunity to be in our class because people tell her that she has Down syndrome really upsets me. People are uncomfortable with things they don't understand. I think knowing someone like Andrea, to know Andrea as a person, can help someone understand themselves."

Miss Andrea Bailey: My name is Andrea Bailey. I am 12. I am in grade six. I learn French, math, reading, music, science and I do lots of projects. I like to be at school with my friends. We play hide and seek, we talk and play together. We help each other.

I had lots of friends at my birthday party. We saw movies, we had popcorn and chips and drinks. We played games, pool, sat on the couch. We played spin the bottle.

If I could not go to school with my friends, I would be very sad and lonely.

Miss Lapell: Hi. My name is still Abigail and I go to an alternative school called Avondale. Like Kilby mentioned, everybody in my class is really different, from the colour of our skin to our values and beliefs. My best friend in my class, who you just heard, is a very special person to me. She has Down syndrome, but she isn't as different as a lot of people might like to think. Basically, what it means for her is that sometimes school is a lot harder. There's a lady who comes in every day and helps her with her work, and sometimes I and the rest of the kids in my class need to try a little harder to help her. But that's okay, because friends help each other.


Unfortunately, there are still a lot of people from other schools who would make fun of Andrea or somebody like her, because they've never had the opportunity to understand her and maybe they never will. I think that's too bad, because I think everybody should be as lucky as I am to have a person like Andrea in their life. I'm lucky in a lot of ways. I think I'm also lucky that I understand that the disease my best friend has isn't a problem, as a lot of people would like to label it. It's just another one of the millions of things that make her an individual, like everybody else.

Ms Bailey: Great. I'm very proud of both of you girls.

Ms Langdon: We have a 30-second video that we'd like to show, but Doug has just gone into the other room to see if it can be set up. We'll see if that will work or not.

Mr Hope: Why don't you read these questions into Hansard so they are on the record, while we're waiting for the videotape to come on?

Ms Langdon: Okay. Our first question is in view of a number of things: the public commitment to inclusion by the last three ministers of Education; their persistent promises to take the first steps towards inclusion by September 1993; the fact that Bill 4 is the first piece of legislation dealing with education in over 10 years; the fact that an amendment to the Education Act to provide for inclusion was drafted by ARCH, which many of you know is the Advocacy Resource Centre for the Handicapped, and given to the ministry in January 1991; the fact that there has been widespread public consultation on the proposed amendments to the special ed legislation -- do you remember that back in 1986, a while ago? -- and the fact that we've had the consultation paper on the integration of exceptional students in 1992.

A policy memorandum on integration is now under consideration, and there was a meeting of the stakeholder groups to discuss it in May 1993. We did have the intervention of the Attorney General to support Alixe Hysert's right to inclusion, in March 1991, and that resulted in a school board changing its approach to inclusive education. We also had an announcement on Saturday from the director of the special education branch. The ministry has finally concluded that integration does not cost more than segregation. Also, the ministry has done a survey of all the provinces and territories in Canada and has found that integration is the preferred mode of service delivery in every single province and territory, which was really interesting to hear from our very own ministry.

In the light of all those things, we're asking now why Bill 4 is so limited in its scope. Why is this government dragging out the process instead of streamlining it? Why does Bill 4 not include provisions to entitle all students to quality education in regular classes in their home schools, with appropriate supports to ensure a successful school experience? We think it should.

The second question is, when is this government going to bring its education policies into line with its Human Rights Code?

The third question is, when is this government going to bring its education policies into line with the policies of its Ministry of Community and Social Services? We have deinstitutionalization in community living and we think those things must be accompanied by acceptance in regular classrooms.

The fourth question is, what provisions is this government taking to ensure that resources are allocated on the basis of student need, not on the basis of student label?

Our fifth question is, when is the policy memorandum that everyone is talking about on integration going to be approved and circulated to schools? Will it guarantee that students will be entitled to attend their local neighbourhood schools? When we use that phrase, we mean the school that a student would be able to attend if it were not for any other designation of exceptionality.

Accompanying that is question 6: When would the legislation be passed that would guarantee the entitlement of all students to quality education in their local neighbourhood schools, in regular classes with supports to ensure success?

Our seventh question is, will members of this committee recommend that the Attorney General redirect her lawyers to support Becky Till's right to inclusion? I think you're all familiar with the Becky Till situation. The standard answer is, "We can't discuss that because it's in the courts right now." I think you can ask it as a question of the Attorney General in question period. She may give you that answer, but then again, she may not. I think it's a question that has to be asked and we would certainly appreciate somebody asking it on our behalf, because we can't walk in there and do that; you can.

The eighth question is, what guidelines will accompany Bill 4 to ensure that school boards do not replace the "TR" label with any other label? What procedures will be enacted to ensure that students formerly labelled "TR" will continue to receive adequate resource support? Will this government ensure that students formerly labelled "TR" will be welcomed into their local neighbourhood schools and regular classes?

Our final question is, will guidelines be developed to accompany Bill 4, to guarantee that it will transfer full responsibility for students formerly served by the Metropolitan Toronto School Board to the local Metro boards? What provisions will be made to transfer resource support directly to those local school boards? In the light of that, our recommendation, just so that it's on the record, is:

We recommend that Bill 4 be amended to include the entitlement of all students to quality education in their local neighbourhood schools in regular, chronologically age-appropriate classes with sufficient supports to ensure a successful educational experience.

I think we're very much on the right track. It's just a question of moving ahead and getting there. We just have to move a little bit more and get there, tighten things up and make it happen.

Ms Bailey: We'd like to show you a very quick video, and I have to give a cue to broadcast this. Do we work it from here? Great.

[Video presentation]

Ms Bailey: We had planned to present the Chairperson of the committee with a collage of all the children here, but we understood that we weren't allowed to take pictures, so you're going to have to do without your present. But perhaps while we're here, we have a few minutes for questions, because I can see that it's about two minutes to 6. If there's anything that you want to ask, we can follow up from there.

Mr Hope: Do you have the children here? Why don't you bring the children in so the television camera can be focused on the children?

Ms Bailey: They're in the audience, so I don't know if they particularly --

Mr Hope: If they want to walk up here, so that they can be a part of the television.

Ms Langdon: Sure. Would you like to come up?

Mr Beer: Mr Chair, there is a minute for a question. Can I just ask, because I think this is important that we understand -- you have said that you want the "hard to serve" designation removed. We've had testimony from other individuals and groups earlier today who are saying, "Look, we believe that we need that for some perhaps more extreme or most extreme cases."

I just want to be clear, because I don't know that you and they are necessarily in opposition to one another. Can I just ask you to clarify that? Because if I've heard from the other groups today, it is, please don't remove that one element which can allow in probably limited cases, but none the less allow for a proper program that in their view can't be offered elsewhere.

If that were to continue, how would that affect what you're requesting? I don't necessarily see that they're in contradiction, but I just want to be very clear on that.

Ms Langdon: It might affect our kids and it might not. One of the things we've lived with for so many years is the fact that the onus of deciding what happens to our kids is always in somebody else's hands. We never get to make that decision. Somebody else gets to make that decision. We have an IPRC process, we have an appeal process, but I think you're quite familiar that those processes have always been stacked against parents.

One of the things that Louise and I and a number of other parents have always had to live with is fear that somebody somewhere is going to make a decision about the severity of our children and say, "No, no, no, they can't come here." That's a very real fear, because it has happened to a number of kids.


There are very few children that we know of who have Down's syndrome or who have other kinds of developmental disabilities who are in really good inclusive situations. So when we've, in the past, looked at something like "hard to serve," I understand that these other parents are saying they need it for their particular kids. We've seen it as a way that somebody might try to keep our kids out and a way that somebody might try to exclude our kids. That is very scary for us, because we are so used to people trying to exclude our kids that when we see the government saying, "Let's get rid of it," we say, "Great idea; we'll support that." That is an easy one for us.

Ms Bailey: We support it on principle, because we see it as a threat.

Mrs Cunningham: Just a statement to support Mr Beer. Would it be fair to say that some of the parents who are asking for this clause really want their children to be dealt with in individual ways, at least for part of the day, whereas you are looking for inclusion for your students -- more so, integration of your students?

Ms Langdon: I can't speak on behalf of the other parents. I don't know what they're after.

Mrs Cunningham: I think that might be it.

Mr Beer: I think this is just an important point, because I think what the other parents were saying today was that they saw that as providing something that otherwise wouldn't be there. I suspect if we had them back at the table, they would be saying, "Hey, we don't want you to be excluded." Perhaps one of the things as a committee we need to struggle with is how we can assist both of those possibilities. I appreciate the points that you make in clarifying how you came to that.

Mrs Cunningham: I'm glad Mr Beer and the representatives had that opportunity to put those statements on the record. I think what we're finding out here during this discussion is that what we really ought to be doing -- I know we probably should have done it a long time ago -- is taking a look at how the special education advisory committees are working and whether we can make recommendations for improvement from board to board and throughout the province. Also, when we are looking at the IPRCs, let's take a look at how they are working. We are long overdue for that kind of a study.

One of the things that I think should be happening is we should take a look at where we have systems that are working in this province. School boards do a very good job, and we should be taking a look at that. I can say, as a parent whose child has been special and who has had to see him through many years of individual placements, that I was asked, maybe because of my own personality and the fact that I've been privileged to be involved as a school board trustee when my children were very young. Sometimes you gain in confidence. You also have the opportunity to travel this province and learn how other parents have dealt with things. You've been around for some 10 years and I've been around longer, a lot longer.

Ms Langdon: We could discuss that further, I'm sure.

Mrs Cunningham: I can see yourselves and the exceptional contributions that your young people have made to all of us today. Clapping isn't on Hansard, but we would all like it to be entered.

I was a part of the committee, because I demanded, for whatever inner strength I had -- because that's what it takes -- to be part of it, and over a period of time the educators were not as defensive about it. Therefore, I was asked what I thought should happen. But I also sat on the committee before my child was injured and became special, when I did what I was told and watched the education community always make the recommendations with very little input from parents. Until it happened to me, I wasn't able to be part of it. I just couldn't. Even then, it took me many years to be able to speak on behalf of my own child. I'm just saying that I'm so glad that you're here speaking on behalf of the special kids that you represent and their families.

Ms Bailey: I'd just like to make the comment, if I could have a few seconds -- I'm mindful of the bells -- that when you talk about looking at SEACs and IPRCs, we couldn't agree with you more. However, I think that the way those committees operate depends very much on the overall framework of how we view children. Once we are looking at a framework where everyone is integrated, then I think their functions flow very differently. So I think first we need to look at that global issue and meeting the right, the entitlement, to integration in the regular classroom in neighbourhood schools, and then everything else flows very nicely from there, and with parental input, because I think we look at parental input differently when we look to educate and include children and value them, because then we value the input their parents bring with them.

Mrs Cunningham: You mean integrated as far as possible? Some of the parents who came here today for a period of time asked that their children have individual programs because of their behaviour programs --

Ms Bailey: Our position, yes; but our position for our group of children is total integration.

Mrs Cunningham: And that's why I think that Mr Beer asked the question, because there are different needs.

Ms Bailey: Yes.

Ms Langdon: I don't think the question of inclusion precludes individual programs.

Mrs Cunningham: No, I agree.

Ms Langdon: We are talking about modified programs for a number of children.

The Chair: There are two people talking at once, I'm sorry. You must slow down. Did you want to finish up?

Ms Langdon: No, I think the point --

Mrs Cunningham: It is important to get that on the record.

The Chair: Mr Martin, and then we must go, I understand.


The Chair: We're using it to good advantage.

Mr Martin: If I might just say that it is certainly the intention of the ministry to try to make the publicly funded school systems in Ontario the best that they could possibly be and to change it such that they will in fact be able to offer the kinds of services that are needed by students to students in their home communities and in their home schools, if that's possible. This piece of legislation is an attempt to pave the way somewhat because there is a bigger piece coming under the guise of the integration memorandum that you've been referring to, that this will hopefully open some doors towards.

The Chair: Thank you. Did you wish to just respond quickly?

Miss Lapell: Just before we go, I just want to say I hope that you really have listened and heard what me and Andrea have to say today because we're not really talking about laws and rules; we're talking about real feelings that we really have. So I really hope that you listened to that and take that into consideration.

The Chair: I want to assure you that we listened intently and it will be considered.

Ms Langdon: If I could just briefly respond to Mr Martin's comment, I appreciate the fact that you're speaking on behalf of the government and saying that you're moving in that direction. One point I really have to make, though, is this one: When I hear the term "community school," I get very scared because one of the things that's beginning to happen is that people are saying, "Oh, we'll have a community school for the gifted and we'll have a community school for the learning disabled and we'll have a community school for people we used to call TR." That is not what we're talking about. The phrase "local neighbourhood school," a school the student would attend without the designation "exceptional," is key to the whole thing. It just won't work otherwise. We have too many directors of education and people who still don't want our kids, as Abigail well knows, that they will find loopholes in that and they will keep our kids out. So the phrasing in that policy memorandum is really, really critical.

The Chair: Thank you for your presentation, and I want to thank Andrea and Abigail for their presentations. They did extremely well. Thank you for coming before us. In view of a call to the House for a vote, the standing committee on social development on Bill 4, An Act to amend certain Acts relating to Education, stands adjourned.

The committee adjourned at 1808.