Monday 14 June 1993

Education Statute Law Amendment Act, 1993, Bill 4

Wellington County Board of Education

Donald Ross, chair

Wellington County Roman Catholic Separate School Board

Rev John G. Lambertus, chair

Roger and Donna Borland

Réseau ontarien des services de garde francophones

Mme Claire McCullough, directrice générale

Federation of Women Teachers' Associations of Ontario

Beverley Gardner, second vice-president

Joan Wescott, executive director

Margaret Dempsey, president

Barbara Sargent, first vice-president

Kathleen Haswell; Monique Treleaven; Charlene Derosier

Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario

Eva Nichols, executive director

Heather and James Hunter


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

*Acting Chair / Président suppléant: McGuinty, Dalton (Ottawa South/-Sud 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)

*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

Wilson, Gary (Kingston and The Islands/Kingston et Les Îles ND) for Ms Carter

Witmer, Elizabeth (Waterloo North/-Nord PC) for Mrs Cunningham

Clerk pro tem / Greffière par intérim: Pajeska, Donna

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

The committee met at 1546 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): Ladies and gentlemen, I call the standing committee on social development to order. We are holding hearings on Bill 4, An Act to amend certain Acts relating to Education.


The Vice-Chair: The first presenter is the Wellington County Board of Education. Would you come forward to the seats at the end, please, and introduce yourselves. Proceed with your presentation. You have about 20 minutes. If there is time, there might be a few questions. I'm sorry we are getting started as late as we are.

Mr Donald Ross: My name is Don Ross and I am chair of the Wellington County Board of Education. With me is Father John Lambertus, who is chair of the Wellington county separate school board. We will both be presenting here this afternoon.

The Vice-Chair: Welcome, and proceed.

Mr Ross: If I might start, I believe you have been given a copy of this, so I will go through it with you. I want to thank you for allowing the Wellington County Board of Education to make a presentation to you this afternoon concerning Bill 4, An Act to amend certain Acts relating to Education. The Wellington County Board of Education wants to specifically address the requirement to provide a junior kindergarten program by September 1, 1994.

Even though we understand that a board may apply, provided certain, as yet unannounced, regulations are met, to phase in the requirement of junior kindergarten until September 1, 1997, the Wellington County Board of Education has grave concerns with providing the program in Wellington county by the 1997 date.

Before I outline the concerns, I wish to emphasize that the Wellington County Board of Education is not opposed to junior kindergarten being offered where it is needed in the province. We believe that school boards should have the option of providing programs such as junior kindergarten when they are needed or wanted, and at the same time the option not to offer a program if it is not needed nor wanted.

The first concern in providing a junior kindergarten program is cost. The Wellington County Board of Education has been a growth board, averaging a 3% to 4% student increase each year for the last several years. As a result, our schools are full and we are using 190 portables to accommodate our students. A junior kindergarten program with 80% of the eligible students attending a half-time program will result in about 750 full-time-equivalent students, or an additional 3% to our student numbers.

A facility study completed in 1990 estimated that we would need at least 30 additional classrooms. The estimated cost of these is $5 million to $6 million. The normal operating costs of the program are conservatively estimated at $4.5 million per year, resulting in a total startup cost for the first year of $9 million to $10 million.

The Ministry of Education and Training does offer capital grants for junior kindergarten facilities as well as some classroom startup costs and the regular per pupil grant for operating costs. However, this money comes from the total available for education in the province, which the ministry and current government is in the process of drastically reducing. We have been told that grants for remedial summer school, for elementary school and ESL students are eliminated, programs that are highly regarded and needed in our area, but that there are grants available for junior kindergarten.

Similarly, in our request for capital funding we asked for senior kindergarten rooms for six schools that currently are being housed in less than ideal classrooms; in other words, no washrooms and they are undersized. This request was ignored and instead we were granted money for 14 junior kindergarten rooms, money which we have not yet accessed because our board has experienced no demand for this costly program.

Currently, provincial spending on education is being flatlined or maybe even decreased over the next four years. Provincially, as student numbers grow by 2% per year in the province, the addition of at least another 3% caused by junior kindergarten enrolment, making a total of 11% growth by 1997, will place an unbearable burden on the local property taxpayer.

As well as the cost of additional facilities, we have a few elementary schools where there is simply no room for additional students due to site size, septic capacity or hydro services. Already we have transported some grade 6s from their neighbourhood schools because of overcrowding. Junior kindergarten will only displace more students from their home schools and exacerbate tensions among parents.

The second concern with the junior kindergarten program is more philosophical. The Wellington County Board of Education believes strongly that the ideal situation for a developing four-year-old is in a caring family environment. We recognize, however, that this is not always possible, but we feel that, if society must provide help to four-year-olds, it should be through licensed child care centres or nursery school programming, not through an institutionalized school setting.

First of all, teachers are not trained to deal with this age group of children, whereas early childhood education graduates are specifically trained for this role. Secondly, child care or a nursery school can offer everyday, half-day programs, rather than the full-day, alternate-day junior kindergarten programs that are found in many school boards. The adult-to-child ratio of eight to one found in child care is much better than the 20-to-1 or greater ratio found in junior kindergarten.

As well, we would suggest that under current regulations the government could get a greater value for the dollars spent by investing in subsidized child care or nursery schools than in a junior kindergarten program in public schools.

In the literature review of head start programs, there is found to be no difference in student achievement after the first three to five years in school. It is generally agreed that there is a far greater improvement when intervention takes place when the child is two to three years old than when the child is four to five years old.

I want to address the question of equity or accessibility to programs in Wellington county. The residents of Wellington county have chosen to live in Wellington for many reasons, a lot of them because it is an excellent place to raise a family. If they had wanted junior kindergarten, they would have only had to select a home 10 minutes away and they could have had the program. It is offered all around us. There has not been a local demand for the program. Just as I live in a rural area and do not expect garbage pickup and municipal police protection, people do not expect junior kindergarten in Wellington county. We choose to live where we are and are happy with it, with all the services that may be available in other areas.

Not only is there no demand for junior kindergarten, there's a great deal of opposition to it from the local taxpayers. The Wellington County Board of Education has been supported in its stand today by 22 municipalities in the county. I have with me copies of motions that were passed by 18 of them, which I'll give to you later. As well, we have received letter support from the Arkell Women's Institute and other individual taxpayers. They are telling us that we cannot afford this program, whether it's paid through local property tax or provincial taxes.

The Wellington County Board of Education also has the support of three teacher federations: Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation, District 39; Ontario Public School Teachers' Federation, Wellington District; and the Wellington County Women Teachers' Association. They are united in saying that we cannot afford junior kindergarten at this time.

We are unique in Wellington county in that our coterminous board, the Wellington county separate school board, is the only separate school board in this province which does not offer a junior kindergarten program. This further illustrates the lack of demand for the program in Wellington county.

In conclusion, I want to say that school boards in this province have never been remiss in moving ahead with optional programs for the good of students. I can name a few of these, some of which originate in Wellington county, such as cooperative education and the school-workplace apprenticeship program, and some, such as French immersion, reading tutors and breakfast programs, that originated in other boards and that we have imported to Wellington county for the benefit of our students.

We will continue to seek ways of improving programs for students. We just ask that the mandatory aspect of junior kindergarten by 1997 be deleted, to allow us to choose if and when the program is necessary in Wellington county.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you. Father Lambertus, do you wish to proceed?

Rev John G. Lambertus: I'm here representing the Wellington county separate school board, and I must say up front, in addition to the one-page letter that has been circulated to the committee members signed by myself, I want to emphasize that we have had a very close working relationship with our coterminous board in Wellington county. I think we in the separate school board are proud of it and I think the people on the public board are proud of it as well, that it is a very good working relationship. I've been involved in school boards in other communities and I think it's the best working relationship that I've seen in a long time.

We are here today as a representative of the separate school board supporting the submission that has been placed before this committee, and you can see the reasons outlined. We at the separate school board support their request that the mandatory aspect of a junior kindergarten program by 1994 or 1997 be deleted to allow coterminous boards to choose if and when the program is necessary in Wellington county.

We support this recommendation for the following reasons, which are basically the reasons that you've heard from Mr Ross:

Because of the cost of such a program in this time of grave financial restraints, and every day the grave financial restraints seem to get more difficult all the time.

Implementation of such a program, because of government cutbacks, would impose a serious financial burden on the local taxpayer who is suffering from heavy local taxation at this time of recession, and I hear this not only through the separate school board but through my position as a community leader in one of the parishes in the city. Education taxes are high enough.

To date our board has not been requested by anyone to implement a junior kindergarten program anywhere in the county, and I think our board has also taken a stand where we want to work closely with our coterminous board if and when junior kindergarten would be implemented when people are asking for it. We've had letters from the same municipalities voicing their opposition to the implementation of such a program at this time and they've made their intentions known to our board as well. They are telling us that we can't afford it.

We want to make it clear that we are not in any way opposed to junior kindergarten where it is needed and requested. We are of the firm belief that at this time in educational history in the province of Ontario boards should have some flexibility in providing educational programs that are needed and are within the financial means of a given board to provide. We're all aware that through legislation senior kindergarten is not mandatory, as kindergarten is not mandatory.

We feel that we should have the opportunity as two coterminous boards to implement such a program if and when it's requested and we can afford it. We ask that you give serious consideration to the submission of the Wellington County Board of Education. In the amendment of certain acts relating to education as contained in Bill 4, please hear our concerns regarding the mandatory implementation of junior kindergarten.

Respectfully submitted by myself on behalf of Wellington county separate school board.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you for your presentation. We've very limited time for questions, but we will entertain one per caucus perhaps. Ms Witmer.

Mrs Elizabeth Witmer (Waterloo North): I certainly want to congratulate you, Don, and also you, Father Lambertus, for the excellent relationship that you have established. As a former teacher with the Wellington board and as a chair of the Waterloo board, I'm well aware of the way you have developed that close relationship.

I think your presentation is pretty straightforward. You're indicating that you don't want the government to mandate JK and instead you've indicated here that you would prefer that the grants be used for such things as the remedial summer school program for elementary school and ESL students.

I listened to the minister on Saturday morning as he spoke to the OPSTA delegates and he indicated at that time that he wanted to listen to parents. Now, it's obvious that the parents in your community have indicated that they don't want junior kindergarten. Do you anticipate that at some time there will be a request for junior kindergarten, or has this been a consistent message that you've been receiving?

Mr Ross: This has been a very consistent message for us, though I think, to be fair, that if a program is offered which would, in other words, provide free day care which they might currently be paying for, it has been shown across the province that students will attend it. But there has been, as Father has said earlier, no demand come to either board in terms of wanting a junior kindergarten program implemented now.

Mrs Witmer: And you've seen the same thing, Father Lambertus?

Rev Lambertus: Yes, we've had delegations on many other things, but we haven't yet had delegations demanding junior kindergarten.

Mrs Witmer: I hope the minister does listen to what you've indicated here and I hope that he will not make it mandatory, since, if we're going to really respect the wishes of the local community, we need to listen to what has been said here. Thank you for your presentation.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you. Any other questions? None at this time? Thank you for your presentations.

Rev Lambertus: Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak to you.



The Vice-Chair: The next presentation is to be made by Roger and Donna Borland. Would you come forward, please. We have 15 minutes; hopefully, there'll be time for questions following the presentation. Introduce yourselves for Hansard and proceed.

Mr Roger Borland: Mr Chairman and committee members, we thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to speak before you today. This is my wife, Donna, and my name is Roger Borland, and we're from Woodstock, Ontario. We have a very special interest in Bill 4 and the removal of the hard-to-serve section from legislation.

Our son is a 13-year-old, normal-looking boy who has auditory processing difficulties and dyslexia. He has been a pupil of the Oxford County Board of Education since September 1985. They have not been able to provide him with an appropriate education.

From as early as kindergarten, Travis was recognized for his handwork and for what some teachers have described as his exceptional ability in art, with outstanding attention to detail and thought. He quickly fell behind for his age in language and math abilities and, as time progressed, his social development became worse. He began acting out in class and was easily distracted.

In 1988, Travis was tested by psychological services of the board in response to concerns expressed by his teachers at Hillcrest School about difficulties he was experiencing in the classroom. These assessments identified Travis as having a learning disability. He was assessed as being below the normal range for his age in reading, writing, spelling and math abilities.

In November 1988, an audiology report from University Hospital in London established that Travis had marked difficulty filtering noises and selective attention, auditory closure. Travis was independently tested in May 1988 as being at an academic level of grade 2.2, placing him approximately one half-year behind his expected level.

As a result of these assessments, it was recommended that Travis be placed in a controlled learning environment, free from the distractions of noisy classrooms which inhibited his progress. Consequently, he was placed in a program in which he remained in his regular classroom and was withdrawn on a part-time basis to receive remedial assistance. Although Travis has shown virtually no progress since 1988, the amount of remedial assistance he has been receiving has decreased.

Travis tried various placements with the schools and transferred to a couple of schools within the school board. Over the course, he has moved along with the system, and his access to the remedial assistance has decreased that which was originally provided for him after the first assessment.

Over the years it became clear to us that Travis was making little progress in school and was consequently becoming frustrated. By the fall of 1992 Travis was experiencing increasing behavioural problems and had become depressed to the point of suicidal thoughts. After attempts to address these problems in conjunction with the teaching staff at Central School and officials from the board proved inadequate, we sought external help.

In 1993, we arranged for an independent assessment of Travis by a psychologist. This assessment found that Travis had still not progressed past grade 3 in many of his language skills, indicating a virtual absence of educational development over a period of nearly five years. He is now in grade 7. I want to note that in grade 2.9 he was only a half-year behind. He's now four years behind.

This assessment cited numerous ways in which a regular classroom atmosphere stunted Travis's development, given his particular learning disabilities. It further outlined the resulting distress and frustration caused to Travis by his inability to profit in such a classroom and emphasized that his lack of progress was not attributable to a low IQ.

This report also stated that Travis's special needs could not be provided for in a regular classroom nor with the limited access to remedial support which he has had to date. This also confirmed the results of the earlier assessments conducted by the board.

Although Travis was identified as a student with exceptional needs in 1988, he has never been provided with appropriate or adequate support to meet these needs. We don't blame the teachers. We know they have done the best they could, but they have neither the resources nor the training to succeed with my son's education.

In addition to failing to provide the adequate educational services to Travis, considering his learning disability, school officials have singled him out to punish him for behaviour related to this disability. He is routinely excluded from classes when he is deemed unable to cope with activities undertaken within them. During the period of March 8, 1993, to April 15, 1993, he was excluded from classes no less than 12 times, often for the entire class. Such treatment exacerbates the difficulty Travis already has in profiting from his school work.

Given Travis's inability to derive benefit from the services offered by the board, combined with his being excluded for behaviour related to his disability, on March 27, 1993, we requested that the director of the board strike a hard-to-serve hearing, as provided for in section 35 of the Education Act. To date, the school board has not arranged for such a hearing. The last letter received was on May 27, 1993, stating:

"We note that Bill 4, which has already received first and second readings in the Legislature, will abolish section 35 of the Education Act and, presumably, bring an end to the process or recommendations of the committee to be engaged. Therefore, we are wondering whether any consideration has been given to the fact that efforts and costs expended in this direction may be wasted at such time as the bill becomes law and whether or not any alternative procedure for consideration of Travis's educational needs might be substituted for the hard-to-serve procedure."

They are denying us a remedy that already exists in the Education Act.

In conclusion, I would like to say that my son isn't failing the system, but rather, the system is failing my son. Very few people know that this legislation exists, and the few people who know about it have great difficulty using it because of misinterpretation by the boards and by the ministry.

The ministry says this legislation is being used as a loophole and that it is not being used for the purpose for which it was intended. This couldn't be farther from the truth. This is my son's last hope. We didn't take this option until everything else had failed. If allowed to take section 35 out of legislation, the ministry will be condemning my son and all the rest of these children to life: life without any chance of a helpful, productive or meaningful existence, one that could lead to suicide, welfare, prison, vandalism and/or depression.

If this is a loophole, then why do I have to sacrifice our home and everything we've worked our whole life for to pay for an education that should have been provided for Travis by the system?

The school board has said to us that our expectations are too high. The school board has no expectations for my son. Compared to them, my expectations are high: no less than a grade 12 education.

Please give my son a chance, and in five years we'll gladly come back and show you the positive results. Please don't take the hard-to-serve section out. Rather, make it more accessible to the many children who need it.

Some of my son's recent comments to his mother are, "Mom, if I died, all your problems with the school would go away." He's said this not once but many times. "Mom, if I died, you would not have to sell your home to pay for my education."

I'd like to give you some points of interest here. No one has won a hard-to-serve case since June 1992. I'd like to ask this committee to think about why that's happened. I think these cases should be reviewed by this committee. Why is the hard-to-serve committee made up of two people from the school system? We believe there should be a time limit for hearings to be heard, because the child's needs need immediate attention.

For the ministry to call this a loophole and deny my son this remedial help or to take away a benefit from a learning-disabled child is akin to denying someone with leukaemia a bone marrow transplant. The process may be painful and expensive, but without it that person will surely perish. With it, there is a 60% to 80% chance of a successful and profitable future.

One other point of interest: We received a letter today from the board of education; it was actually a bill. A month ago, we asked them to give us photocopies of all the notes they had by all the professional staff. We received that. We just got a letter today asking us to pay for all those photocopies and the rest of the notes we got. That bill came to, what, $86?

Mrs Donna Borland: Yes, $86.60.

Mr Borland: It just goes to show you how vindictive the school board is.

We'd like to thank you.


The Vice-Chair: Thank you for your presentation. Questions?

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I don't want to pretend to be an expert on the subject, because obviously I'm not, but from what I understand of it -- I worked with the Centre Jules-Léger, which is a centre that provides special needs in terms of education to various people within the community of Ontario: deaf children, people with learning disabilities etc. The thing that struck me is that this whole hard-to-serve issue, to me, is one that really hasn't worked for parents. What I ask you is that if this system doesn't work -- because you're right: it's only been used, I think, six times since the legislation's been out --

Mr Borland: Excuse me for interrupting, but you said it doesn't work for the parents. Have you got a list of parents who have complained about it?

Mr Bisson: I've talked to people -- that's what I'm saying -- in the meetings I've had. What some of the people who have been involved in this field for a long time advocate is that we need to put something within the education system itself that deals with this, so we don't have the type of travesty that's happening right now, where parents have to go and do exactly what you're doing in order to get what their children are entitled to. I'm asking you, do we need to do earlier intervention in the school system? What do you do? It doesn't seem to work now. That's what I'm asking.

Mr Borland: Intervention has to be as soon as possible. When you let a boy or a girl go until they're age 14, or age 13 like my son, you have very little time left. They have to be dealt with, especially before they get into high school, or it's going to be too late, the behaviour problems are going to become so extreme. With some of these kids, the damage is so bad they become school-phobic; they're petrified of schools.

Mr Bisson: I understand that.

Mr Borland: There are possible ways; it could be remedial within the school system. But we're going to have to have some people go out and take a look at the schools that are successful, the private schools that are actually turning these students out and making them profitable adults who actually go out into this world and succeed. That's not happening in the public school system. There are private schools out there turning out between 50% and 70% of their students, with severe learning disabilities, who are going on to university degrees. I'd hate to say what the statistics are for the public school system for these kids right now.

Mr Bisson: I'm not going to get into the debate. The problem we have -- I'm looking at the Chair for a bit of direction. Do we have time?

The Vice-Chair: No, we don't. We should move on.

Mr Dalton McGuinty (Ottawa South): Mr and Mrs Borland, let me take the opportunity first of all to thank you for appearing before our committee and for helping us understand in a very real way what happens out on the front lines. It's one thing for us to discuss these concepts in the abstract without gaining a real understanding of their implications.

I want you to describe for me, please, Travis's prospects if this hard-to-serve category is eliminated. What does life hold for him, first of all in the school and then beyond that?

Mr Borland: In my estimate, if Travis is forced to stay within the public school system, he has no prospects. He is contemplating suicide and he has already come up with a plan. You don't know what it's like to listen to your son going to bed every night saying: "You know, this is too much. I'm a drag on you." He feels bad about himself, that he's ugly. "Why haven't I got a body like my brother?" He's just totally down and out. There's nothing left. Right now, he's looking forward to the prospect of going to a private school. He wants an education more than anything else, and he wants to succeed.

By all standards and by all means, he's not dull, because in my consideration a dull person doesn't care. He cares very much. Travis is very intelligent. His artwork has been astounding and he amazes an awful lot of people. Only a month or so ago, his teachers actually requested him to do some drawings when they went to see Phantom of the Opera here in Toronto; he did some special drawings for them for open house. He's a very gifted child, but he hasn't a prayer in the public school system.

In a private school, I would say he has probably a 60% chance or better to receive a college or university education, and that's what we're looking forward to: a minimum of a grade 12 education so he can go out and find a job.

Mrs Witmer: Thank you very much for your presentation. You wondered why the hard-to-serve hasn't reviewed any cases. It's because this bill, actually, is retroactive to June 2, 1992.

I guess what's so extremely unfortunate is that this government, as it's prone to do on each occasion, decides to make changes without putting in place a mechanism that's going to protect individuals like your son. It's obvious that the school board you're with is unable to provide him with an education appropriate to his needs, and I think that's a reality today. School boards as of today have been forced, because of the social contract, to further drastically reduce their programs and their services. As a result, we're going to see more elimination of special education classes, and for students such as your son, he's going to be the one who suffers the results.

I would encourage you to keep fighting. I would encourage you to keep fighting this government, and I hope this government recognizes that students are not all equal. You can't dump them all in one class and assume they're going to learn at the same rate. They do have individual needs and, unfortunately, your son's simply not being given that opportunity at the present time. So don't give up the battle. Hopefully, this government will demonstrate that it truly is compassionate and understand that there are different needs for different students.

Mr Borland: We don't want to give up the battle. I'm hoping we can actually improve on section 35, certainly not abolish it or take it out of the act.

Mrs Witmer: Well, if they're going to take it out, there needs to be a viable alternative to help individuals such as your son, and that's definitely not in place at the present time.

Mr Borland: I agree.

The Chair: Thank you for your presentation.

Next, perhaps Mr Gardner would like to comment on the details of the presentation he's handed out.

Mr Bob Gardner: The clerk has distributed a collection of newspaper articles on the 25 boards that have been identified by the ministry as expecting to have difficulty implementing JK by September 1994. The covering memo is self-explanatory. There they are, for your background.


The Vice-Chair: The next presentation is to be made by the Réseau ontarien des services de garde francophones. Welcome.

Mme Claire McCullough : Bonjour. Je vais parler en français, s'il vous plaît.

M. Bisson : Avez-vous amené des copies ?

Mme McCullough : En français, pas en anglais.

Mon nom est Claire Parent-McCullough. Je suis la directrice générale du Réseau ontarien des services de garde francophones. Au nom du Réseau, je désire remercier les membres du standing committee on social development de nous permettre de nous exprimer sur le projet de loi 4, principalement sur l'article qui parle des garderies, paragraphe 29(3) du projet de loi.

Il y a presque un an, jour pour jour, le Réseau présentait un mémoire lors de la consultation provinciale sur la réforme des services de garde en français en Ontario. On apportait la perspective francophone au dossier des services de garde.

L'accès aux services de garde d'enfants revêt une importance capitale pour la communauté francophone. En effet, les Franco-Ontariens ont reconnu depuis longtemps que les services de garde jouent un rôle primordial dans le développement de l'identité de leurs enfants, en plus d'adresser la survie de la communauté franco-ontarienne. Les expériences préscolaires que vit le petit Franco-Ontarien sont déterminantes pour son avenir en tant qu'individu et membre actif de la communauté. La garderie doit permettre à l'enfant franco-ontarien de se reconnaître comme francophone. Sinon, il perd son identité, sa langue et sa culture, et s'assimile très rapidement.

Malheureusement, les statistiques démontrent que le taux d'assimilation des francophones en basse âge est à la hausse. De plus en plus d'enfants ont déjà perdu leur langue maternelle, même avant d'entrer à l'école, parce qu'il n'y avait pas d'accès à des services de garde, entre autres. Un grand nombre d'enfants aussi proviennent de foyers mixtes, et à cause de cette situation, ne peuvent s'exprimer adéquatement en français.


Dans le but d'éliminer le retard linguistique des enfants, les conseils scolaires et les sections de langue française attribuent des fonds, déjà minces, aux programmes d'actualisation linguistique. C'est pourquoi nous retrouvons dans nos écoles de langue française de nombreuses et coûteuses initiatives pour refranciser et réévaluer les enfants durant les années préparatoires. Malgré les programmes mis de l'avant par les responsables de l'éducation en langue française, la situation ne pourra être corrigée que si le gouvernement s'engage et reconnaît l'importance des services de garde de langue française.

Pour vous présenter brièvement la situation actuelle, présentement en Ontario, il y a 64 services de garde de langue française, de tout genre, à partir de la prématernelle jusqu'aux services parascolaires, en passant par la garderie ; 69 % des services de garde francophones sont en milieu scolaire. Des 2841 places prévues au permis, 87 % sont occupées. Il y a, par contre, 1388 enfants qui sont actuellement sur la liste d'attente. Sachant que chaque service dessert en moyenne 44 enfants, on déduit que 31 centres seraient requis pour combler les besoins. Par contre, ça ne veut dire que les gens qui sont sur la liste d'attente. Les autres qui ne sont pas encore d'âge ou qui ne sont pas démontrés sur papier ne sont pas comptés.

De plus, en comparant la situation avec celle de la communauté anglophone, nous constatons que celle-ci est trois fois mieux desservie que la communauté francophone. D'après les prévisions du Réseau, si tout va bien, d'ici la fin des années 1990, nous pourrions retrouver près de 85 centres de garde.

La planification et la mise sur pied d'un service de garde de langue française n'est pas différente de la démarche entreprise par les anglophones. On doit démontrer le besoin, trouver des locaux, préparer la programmation, recruter le personnel, présenter la demande au ministère des Services sociaux et communautaires et planifier les activités de prélèvement de fonds.

Lorsqu'une garderie ouvre dans une école, le conseil scolaire de langue anglaise place une annonce dans les journaux et demande un opérateur pour le service. À ce moment-là, on pourrait avoir, par exemple, YMCA ou PLASP, qui est une organisation qui met des services de garde sur pied etc -- des groupes semblables. C'est le groupe expérimenté qui met le projet en marche.

Pour les francophones, c'est différent. Leurs structures sont inexistantes, et nous devons recruter des parents, bien voulant, bien volontaires, mais sans expérience, former le comité de gestion et commencer à zéro. Or, bien souvent des projets valables sont en veilleuse parce que ça prend du temps à établir le comité, l'informer et mettre en branle tous les rouages de gestion d'une petite entreprise qu'est la garderie.

Le projet de loi 4 permettrait aux conseils scolaires d'opérer une garderie. Â notre avis, la section de langue française devrait avoir la même prérogative. À la lumière de ce que nous avons dit plus haut, il est de première importance que le gouvernement ontarien permette aux sections de langue française, qui le désirent, d'ouvrir, d'exploiter et d'entretenir des garderies de langue française dans leurs écoles.

Selon nos expériences, les conseils scolaires ne sont pas tous en faveur d'ouvrir des garderies, et encore moins des services de garde de langue française. Les conseillers scolaires francophones auraient bien des difficultés à faire valoir leur point lors des réunions plénières d'un conseil récalcitrant.

Les francophones ont démontré à maintes reprises qu'ils sont capables de gérer leurs institutions, et la gestion de garderies viendrait compléter la gamme de services qu'ils opèrent déjà.

Nous proposons donc que le gouvernement de l'Ontario tienne compte de la spécificité des services de garde de langue française dans toutes les mesures qu'il appliquera dans le projet de loi 4, qui vise à modifier les lois en ce qui concerne l'éducation, et qu'il permette non seulement aux conseils scolaires de langue française mais également aux sections de langue française d'ouvrir, d'exploiter et d'entretenir des garderies.

En conclusion, parmi toutes les étapes qu'un enfant aura à franchir au cours de sa vie, les années passées en milieu de garde sont sans doute les plus marquantes. C'est là que ça commence.

Si la communauté franco-ontarienne compte se réaliser pleinement, tant sur le plan individuel que collectif, si elle compte contribuer et participer pleinement au développement économique et social de la province, il est clair que chacun de ses membres doit partir d'un bon pied.

Nous demandons au gouvernement de saisir l'occasion offerte par ce projet de loi 4 et d'assurer à la communauté franco-ontarienne sa juste place au sein de l'Ontario de l'an 2000.


The Vice-Chair : Merci. Questions?

M. Bisson : Premièrement, j'aimerais indiquer que, comme vous le savez, à Timmins on va avoir, au mois de septembre, notre première garderie francophone, dans une ville qui est bien proche à 50 % francophone. Ça a pris du temps, mais finalement on en a une. Merci beaucoup pour votre appui, votre aide pour être capable de faire de cette initiative une réalité, parce que je sais bien que le Réseau y jouait un rôle. Je peux vous dire que le comité à Timmins a travaillé très fort. Vous avec du bon monde dans ce coin-là, Jean-Pierre Nadeau et autres.

Mme McCullough : Merci.

M. Bisson : La question, c'est plus un commentaire qu'une question. Je comprends et appuie votre situation. Vous parlez, par exemple, d'une commission scolaire où les francophones, ou les anglophones dans certaines situations, se trouvent minoritaires et que l'on doit leur donner le même droit sous la loi. C'est quelque chose qu'on comprend, quelque chose qu'on veut être capable de rectifier dans les amendements de la loi. Je veux juste indiquer qu'on a entendu le message. Il y a eu une omission. Je ne sais pas pourquoi, mais c'est quelque chose qu'on a poigné puis on a souligné tout de suite et quelque chose qu'on est capable d'arranger.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you for your presentation.


The Vice-Chair: The next presentation will be made by the Federation of Women Teachers' Associations of Ontario. Would you come forward, please, and identify yourselves and proceed with the presentation. Mr McGuinty, would you assume the chair, please.

The Acting Chair (Mr Dalton McGuinty): We're ready when you are.

Ms Beverley Gardner: Thank you. My name's Bev Gardner. I am second vice-president with the federation of women teachers. I am here with colleagues to make our presentation. On my left is Joan Wescott, our executive director; and on her left, Margaret Dempsey, the president; and on my right, Barbara Sargent, vice-president.

First of all, thank you for the opportunity to present comment on behalf of the 42,000 women who teach in the public elementary schools in Ontario. There are a number of areas in the bill that are of particular interest to us as women and as teachers who have primary responsibility for the education of young children.

We regret that our submission isn't in its usual format -- we prepared this on rather short notice -- but are pleased to be here. There are areas that we have commented on previously on a number of occasions, so they're not unfamiliar areas to us.

I'm going to ask Joan Westcott to take us through the technical parts of the paper, and then we'd be happy to respond to questions.

Ms Joan Westcott: Thanks, Bev. I believe you have copies of our document at this point, so I just want to highlight some of the points we're making.

We can't help but start with junior kindergarten as our first priority in this paper, since we have long waited for the government to implement the junior kindergartens in all the school boards across the province. We're pleased to see it in this piece of legislation and we urge the government to get on with the implementation of junior kindergartens in all school boards by September 1994.

We take pride in the history that we have as an organization in advocacy for early childhood education, and we believe the implementation of junior kindergarten supports building a firm foundation for children as they proceed through their education.

We have two particular documents that speak to the importance of early childhood education; they have been presented to the government over the years. I have brought a couple of copies of those documents to leave with the committee. One is our submission to the select committee on education made some years ago, in February 1990, and more recently, our response to The Early Years consultation paper for the Ministry of Education made in February 1992. I'll leave those copies with the committee just to highlight the importance of junior kindergarten, and we urge that this part of the bill be supported wholeheartedly.


We do, however, have some questions to ask about the implementation, and we realize that these questions relate more specifically to the regulations that will be developed to go along with this one section of the bill.

You'll note on page 2 of our document that our concerns relate to the delay in the implementation which will be allowed for some school boards. We ask that there be immediate clarification on the matter of the possibility of delay. We want to know what the criteria are to allow phase-in or delayed implementation of the junior kindergarten requirement. We want to know when the regulation will be available. We would like to have input into that regulation. We want to be assured that the phase-in circumstances would be clear and that they would be allowed only under unusual circumstances. Of course, it's very important that boards learn the conditions under which they'll be allowed to phase in as well.

Equity of access to junior kindergarten programs for children in Ontario is an issue for us, and we believe that the implementation of junior kindergarten in every board is important for the children of this province. We have, in our documents, addressed the issue of who will teach the junior kindergarten classes. We believe the basic qualification for the teachers in junior kindergarten must remain an Ontario teacher's certificate, strengthened by training in early childhood education and in child development.

We certainly are very supportive of the initiatives that we know are in place among colleges and universities of this province to offer specific teacher pre-service and post-service courses for early childhood education certification and specialization. We applaud the initiatives to coordinate the programs for graduates of early childhood education programs in colleges in order that they can access additional training at the faculties of education in the universities.

Of course, the practising teachers, those who are currently teaching in kindergarten programs and in primary programs, are also asking for greater access to more early childhood education programs to assist them in carrying out the programs in junior kindergarten and kindergarten.

As I mentioned, as you'll see at the bottom of page 3, if you would like to explore our position further, we offer copies of our two documents for you.

Bill 4 mentions a number of changes related to special education. Like many other organizations, our organization and our members individually provided extensive responses to the consultation paper on the integration of exceptional students which was put out by the Ministry of Education. Our regret about what is proposed in Bill 4 at this time is how it may present a disjointed approach to changes in special education. We have looked forward to being involved in the kind of discussion and consultation which we believe must be in place for special education changes, and we hope that the changes proposed in Bill 4 will not provide greater confusion.

We have always agreed that the labelling of students can be detrimental to the progress of a child's development, and so we support the deletion of the references to "trainable retarded children" and to "trainable retarded pupils." We question whether all of the further implications with the removing of these labels have been appropriately considered.

We want to be assured that the needs of these exceptional students will continue to be able to be recognized through the IPRC process, as well as through the use of educational assistance within the school system, and through the provision of other resources that are required to assist these students with their program.

We want to highlight just one aspect of the section of the bill that relates to the suspension of a pupil, and that is, picking up specifically on the inclusion of the section to confirm that an appeal under subsection (2) would not stay the suspension. We believe it's very important for this section to be included in legislation to provide support for the principal in carrying out responsibilities related to suspension.

Next, to speak to the section of the bill that relates to notification of conviction: We are pleased to see this section of the bill included. We initiated this discussion with the Ministry of Education many months ago to urge that this proposal go forward. We believe that if a teacher is convicted of an offence involving sexual conduct and minors, or of any other offence that may put pupils at risk, that individual should not be working with students on a regular basis. We do believe that appropriate measures must be considered, including loss of certificate, for teachers who may be a danger to students. It goes without saying that as we go through the process of the investigation of these cases we strongly support thorough investigation. We strongly support that there be protection of privacy of the individuals during the investigation. But if someone is found guilty of such an offence, we believe that there must be consideration for action.

The last of the items that we are considering at this time is in regard to the transfer of the sick leave credit. We certainly wholeheartedly endorse the amendment which would remove subsections 180(8) and 180(9) from the Education Act. These sections currently, as you know, prohibit the transfer of sick leave credits from one school board to another or from a municipality or a local school board, or a board to a school board if there has been any intervening employment with another employer. We see that this removal will remove one form of structural discrimination faced by women and so we really support that you take action on this, particularly as it concerns teachers. While some changes are occurring, it's true, in the way that family situations are handled, it's still true that women tend to follow their husbands to a new job. They may not be able to find teaching positions in the new municipality. They may need to find other employment until the teaching position becomes available, and so we do urge you to support section 30.

As Bev mentioned when we began the presentation, we have highlighted only certain sections of Bill 4. We would be pleased to provide further information on the sections we've highlighted or to speak to some of the other sections in further detail if you wish, but at this point on this short time line these are the only ones we've chosen to highlight. We'd be pleased to answer any questions.

The Acting Chair: Thank you very much. We're going to have lots of time, in fact, for questions. I'm going to start with Mr Hope.

Mr Randy R. Hope (Chatham-Kent): You are a provincial organization. Do all your associations agree with your philosophy on children about JK?

Ms Westcott: Yes, they do.

Mr Hope: I have to ask a serious question because there was a presentation made earlier today from the Wellington County Board of Education, and it says the Wellington County Women Teachers' Association, which I believe is your association, is saying a delay of JK at this time. I'm wondering, you made a comment earlier stating that under special circumstances there can be a delay. I'm just curious about some of those concerns that you might see which would allow a delay of junior kindergarten.

Ms Westcott: I believe that to the best of our knowledge there is no question that our members support the philosophical basis for junior kindergarten. There is no question that the literature is clear on the benefits of early childhood education. We understand that in some of the school boards where this is not yet implemented there has been indication of barriers that would prohibit full implementation. What we would like ensured is that when school boards are asking for time in terms of implementation that there are real barriers and that some phase-in where it is feasible should begin in September 1994, and that may well be the case in the Wellington school board.

Mr Hope: What would you see as a real obstacle?

Ms Westcott: Clearly, for young children in a specialized program, facilities and resources are necessary. It may not be possible in some systems to have all of those physical resources available in September 1994 if there has been no pre-planning, as is the case in a very few school boards in the province who have been waiting out.

Mr Hope: Do I still have time?

The Acting Chair: Yes.


Mr Hope: I'll keep going then. I was interested in reading the news articles that are provided to us and I noticed your stance is publicly taken in the newspaper that you are in favour of junior kindergarten, but I was also reading in here and I mean to seriously ask you, from the teaching profession: Do you think that an age, maybe 3 years -- that a 3-year-old, 4-year-old and 8 months or whatever the statistic is -- is ready to learn, because I've read in the articles where some people are calling it a babysitting service. The association believes that some children at that age are ready to learn. I'd just like your viewpoints on that.

Ms Gardner: I'm a parent as well as a teacher. I know that my children were learning from the minute they were born. I think the definition of learning that may be implicit in your question is something other than what would be seen as formalized education. I think we need to be clear about what we're talking about when we talk about learning.

Learning is a lifelong process that begins from the first breath and continues on. What we do know from the literature is that children, particularly children who are in any way deprived in terms of the kinds of normal experiences that children have to get them ready for what has been formalized schooling, have greater chances of success if the public systems intervene earlier and give them a head start.

Mr Hope: My final question would be just with those jurisdictions which haven't complied with providing junior kindergarten. Knowing your association probably represents some of the teachers in that area, why would it be that parents haven't come forward with the opportunity to put JK in the school boards -- fear, lack of knowledge? What do you believe some of the beliefs would be in those communities which have not been affected by junior kindergarten?

Ms Gardner: Is the question why school boards haven't implemented them?

Mr Hope: Yes.

Ms Gardner: Those decisions are in the hands of the trustees. Those jurisdictions, for a variety of reasons, have determined not to extend their early childhood education programs to include JK.

Ms Margaret Dempsey: I would like to elaborate further to what Bev has said. I have taught kindergarten and I certainly recognize the tremendous learning for children that takes place at age 4 and age 5. Children come to us in many ways like sponges eager to soak up every type of learning experience and play activity which sets the foundation for future learning in the primary, junior and intermediate divisions and right on through.

Part of the experience I have encountered as a teacher is explaining the education process itself, as to how learning takes place and also to how a student age 4 and age 5 can really grapple with education. Learning is fun. The best way to experience it is to come into a kindergarten and a junior kindergarten class. It's absolutely a wonderful place to be and it's the most enriching experience for a teacher.

Part of the difficulty I think is getting that message across to people who haven't been in junior kindergarten classes to experience it first hand. Believe you me, any trustee in my experience who has come into a junior kindergarten class and participated sees the joy in the learning that goes on and leaves that room a strong advocate for junior kindergarten.

Ms Barbara Sargent: If I could just give Mr Hope a concrete example: The board that I represent, and also Mr Hope represents, was reluctant to implement JK. They have implemented it over a five-year period. They are on the last of that implementation plan. Parents are now clamouring to get their children into these programs because they do see the value. In the last couple of years where the program has not been in their particular home school, they have tried their best to get them enrolled in another school. The parents are realizing and seeing first hand the value of those programs.

Mr Hope: Do I still have more time?

The Acting Chair: I'm going to turn it over to Ms Witmer right now, Mr Hope.

Mrs Witmer: Thank you very much, Joan. It's a real pleasure to see you and to see your colleagues. I know that when the federation of women teachers makes a presentation, it's always thoroughly researched. Again, you've done an outstanding job. I didn't realize that you had such a short time line under which you operated this time.

I want to concentrate on the proposed amendments related to special education. I certainly am extremely unhappy that the government has decided to lump its special education amendments in with the other items in this omnibus bill. I think that consultation with interest groups over this issue in the past has indicated that there's certainly a wide variety of views on this matter, and unfortunately now I feel that this issue of special education is no longer going to get the attention it deserves. I have to tell you, that's probably the part within this omnibus bill that I'm personally the most concerned about.

I notice also that you indicate as well that you have some concerns about the disjointed approach to changes in education, and you're concerned that it's going to lead to greater confusion and concern about the directions for programming for exceptional students. You go on to question whether all of the implications of such a move have been fully considered, and then you go on to say, "We must ensure that the resources will not be lost through a change such as that proposed."

Could you please expand? What are the implications that need to be considered and what are the resources that are going to be needed to respond to the needs of the students who need the special education programs and services? I can tell you I'm very concerned that there isn't special attention being given to this particular area.

Ms Westcott: If I might make a few comments -- and I don't know that I'll explore all of them in the points that I make -- it's a much bigger issue than just the labelling, and I think the bill just doesn't present it as labelling, but the labelling is the initial issue.

But in taking away the label for the students, and while we think that's a good idea, it does take away the specialized programs for that particular grouping of exceptional students --

Mrs Witmer: That's right.

Ms Westcott: -- and we fear that in taking away all of that specially identified programming, in grouping these students with other exceptionalities these students may lose out. So that's why we're trying to identify the need, to consider whether or not the groupings of students would be appropriate if in fact they're not all the same groupings, the kinds of resources -- it may require greater personnel resources than before -- and we want to ensure that the needs are still identified as ones that require specialized services. We are always concerned about the grouping of exceptionalities. In some cases it's quite appropriate; in others it's not, and we fear that these students may be inappropriately grouped and that the kind of educational opportunity that's provided to them may not be as good as it is now.

While we don't disagree there need to be some changes, we fear that all of the ramifications aren't being considered. We mentioned particularly the educational assistance and the IPRC, because we think in the decisions about program, it's key, but the personnel resources are particularly key. So it's really just starting to get into it.

Ms Dempsey: And if I may add, Elizabeth, in the year of cutback and restraint, the most vulnerable students are those that are often disadvantaged, and there have been situations in different jurisdictions where it is the educational assistants and the people who provide support to special education students who are laid off. That is a reality.

Mrs Witmer: I guess that's what concerns me, Margaret. Having been a teacher myself and then a trustee on a school board, it's an area that I know, that sometimes the first cutbacks are made in this area.

I guess if you take a look at some of the societal problems that we have today, we seem to have more students than ever that do have some special needs, and if we're not prepared to respond to those needs, we're going to suffer some of the consequences later in life.

So that's why I'm particularly concerned that we're really not taking a closer examination and really looking at this whole issue of special education. I think it's just being swept under the rug. I'm not comfortable with omnibus bills to begin with, because I think things can slip through and sometimes we're not aware of all of the consequences until it's far too late.


So I would encourage you to continue to let the minister know of your concerns. Hopefully, we can continue to meet the needs of these students. We've certainly heard from parents that they're very concerned that their young people are not going to continue to be provided with the programs and services, simply because the dollars aren't available to school boards.

Ms Gardner: I think there are two issues here that are being confused: The issue of labelling is a very high-profile kind of issue and would gain a lot of sympathy and respect from the general public as well as educators, particularly this label, which is quite offensive.

Mrs Witmer: That's right.

Ms Gardner: However, what it does is remove, in some ways, the security that this particular population had to ensure that their needs would be met.

Mrs Witmer: Exactly.

Ms Gardner: There are many examples in many jurisdictions of very fine integration models where on the actual implementation level the labels have been set aside to provide good service, but it is the government's responsibility to provide us with the framework that will ensure that we can request and access the resources that this population needs, and they certainly need specialized resources.

Mrs Witmer: Yes. Thank you very much. I appreciated your presentation.

The Acting Chair: The parliamentary assistant has asked to raise a point of clarification.

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): It is not the intention of the ministry to take any of the resources away from the students who are now labelled trainable retarded and are to be labelled developmentally disabled. The repeal of the provision in respect of trainable retarded pupils from the Education Act will mean that the same procedures for the identification and placement of exceptional students will apply to all exceptional pupils without distinction and will remove from the act any perceived barriers to the integration of exceptional pupils.

It does not mean that these pupils will no longer be recognized as exceptional pupils who need appropriate special programs. I think that's an important point to make, and we come to this from some tremendous lobbying and information put to us by those people who directly advocate on behalf of these folks and they see this as appropriate.

Ms Westcott: Could I just make a point on that, because that does concern us. While we support the integration of exceptional students, we fear that what might happen is that when there are not resources, these students will be integrated without additional resources and the classroom teacher will be unable to meet the needs of those students appropriately in the integration process. So it is a serious concern that needs to be considered by the ministry. We believe that it's not just good enough to say they'll be considered for integration. They should only be considered for integration if all of the other support systems are in place, and we fear they won't be.

Mr Martin: It is certainly not the intention of this piece of legislation to do what you're suggesting.

Ms Gardner: We're happy to hear that.

The Acting Chair: I want to thank you on behalf of the committee for taking the time out of your busy schedules and sharing some of your expertise with us in a manner which, I am sure you will agree, is of vital concern to all of us. Thank you very much.


The Acting Chair: Our next presenter, Mrs Kathleen Haswell. Mrs Haswell, I note for the purposes of the record that you have brought along two other people with you and ask you to identify them for us, please.

Mrs Kathleen Haswell: Yes. Thank you, Mr Chairman. My name is Kathy Haswell, and this is Mrs Derosier and this is --

Mrs Monique Treleaven: Mrs Treleaven.

The Acting Chair: Thank you. Please begin.

Mrs Haswell: There are six children who are presently funded out of our section 35, the hard-to-serve clause. One child is presently in university and is not being funded at the moment. Two children have emotional or psychiatric problems and were referred by their respective boards -- not by the parents; by their boards. There are three parents who are left. Last week you heard from Mrs Mogford, who was not on your agenda, and she took the place of another parent whose car had broken down on that day. Beside me are the two other parents.

Everybody's called for an appointment and I'm very concerned that the parents of the children who were actually declared hard to serve have not gotten on the agenda and not been allowed to present. So with your permission, Mr Chairman, I would like to give up my time slot so that you can hear from two parents who have had their children declared hard to serve.

Before you is a package. The yellow package is from the parents of hard-to-serve children, and we're responding to the advisory committee's recommendations. The blue information is my presentation that I was going to make but I'm not. Then there are two letters from two other parents.

With that, Mr Chairman, if you don't mind, I'd like to turn it over to Mrs Treleaven.

The Acting Chair: Just to note, Mrs Haswell, the committee has heard, I believe, from at least three individual parents of hard-to-serve children. Of course, we've heard from the organization of parents of hard-to-serve children, but we are very pleased to hear from these two as well.

Mrs Haswell: But these parents have had their children identified hard-to-serve.

The Acting Chair: All right, thank you.

Mrs Treleaven: I'm Mrs Treleaven. I am the mother of Kevin Treleaven, whose date of birth is August 31, 1980. My husband, Russell Treleaven, and I reside in the town of Orangeville in the county of Dufferin. We have two children: Kevin, who's 12, and his younger brother, Joseph, who's 6.

Kevin is learning-disabled. His weaknesses appear to be in visual-motor integration skills, non-verbal concept formation and analogical thinking. The most recent psychological report prepared by Dr Griff Morgan, who's a registered psychologist, states that Kevin's problems in information processing, reasoning and verbal ability account for much of his learning disability, and he is of average intelligence.

Kevin was identified as an exceptional student with the board in grade 1. That was in 1986. In 1989, when we moved to Orangeville, he was placed in what they called a primary-junior composite class in Orangeville. In the fall of 1990, my husband and I noticed Kevin was having greater difficulties in school. As Kevin suffers from migraines, which seem to be related to stress -- and at this time the migraines were becoming more frequent and I was having to pull him out of school three times a week because he was vomiting so much they didn't really want him there, so they thought he'd be better at home. They really don't facilitate that type of thing.

So I had to pull him out of school because of this nausea, and I requested another IPRC to review his placement. On February 11, 1991, this IPRC was held. My husband and I were not satisfied with the decision of the IPRC, because it changed very little in Kevin's placement. We were told that Kevin had progressed socially -- they told us, "He's coming along socially" -- but we could see that he was not progressing academically. We requested an appeal of the decision. The appeal was heard April 12, 1991. The decision of the appeal committee was that the placement recommendation by the IPRC was appropriate for Kevin.

I believe that the appeal process was stacked against us. The psychologist for the board implied that my son would never be able to go on to get a post-secondary education and would always be behind. It is not so surprising that many children do not succeed when educators have so little expectation of them.

During the spring of 1991, Kevin's difficulties with the placement recommended by the board were becoming more severe. My husband and I believed that he was losing ground academically and emotionally. I requested a hard-to-serve hearing for Kevin under the Education Act. At this point I felt I had no alternative but to take things further with the board -- my son was so emotionally upset and humiliated by his experiences in the classroom. The committee made a written report of its findings and recommendations to the board. It was their conclusion that Kevin is a pupil who's able to profit from instruction and therefore they decided he was not hard to serve.

On November 18, 1991, the board considered the reports of the committee. The board also heard submissions from myself and my counsel, meaning my lawyer, and the board's lawyer. Following deliberations, the board determined that Kevin was a hard-to-serve pupil -- so now he was declared hard to serve -- within the meaning of section 34 of the Education Act. This decision was an indication that I was finally being heard and that my nightmare was soon going to be over.


On November 20, 1991, Kevin was assessed by Dr Griff Morgan. This report assisted us in finding an appropriate placement for Kevin. We investigated a couple of placements before deciding that Sheila Morrison School was the most appropriate placement for my son.

In December 1991 I spoke with Sheila Roy of the Ministry of Education. She advised me that the decision of the ministry to find a placement for Kevin would take a long time. She told me not to remove Kevin from the board's placement despite the fact that the board had determined that my son was hard to serve.

In March 1992 the Ministry of Education advised us that the ministry's decision not to fund Kevin's placement remained unchanged. The Ministry of Education was refusing to fund Kevin's placement at the Sheila Morrison School despite its obligation to do so under the Education Act.

We placed Kevin at the Sheila Morrison School on January 27. We obtained this funding only after we started an application in the Divisional Court to force the Ministry of Education to honour its obligation under the Education Act. At this time we are still in the middle of litigation over the ministry's obligation to pay my son's schooling.

Kevin has been at Sheila Morrison School for one year. His teacher compares him to working with clay. "One only has to mould him" she says. She also told me that he is her best student. He needs to be pushed, as he has become used to doing nothing -- nothing has been expected of him -- and he really didn't have to work very hard in the public school system.

Sheila Morrison has brought Kevin up four grade levels in one year. He had not progressed past grade 1 in the eight years that he was in the public school system, and if Bill 4 comes into force, the funding for Kevin's successful school placement will be cut off. We don't know where we'll place him. It would appear that Kevin would only have one more year at Sheila Morrison after the end of June if the bill goes through. We don't believe he's ready to be placed back in a system that can't meet his needs.

Mrs Haswell: Mr Eddy, Mrs Derosier would like to have a few words, if that's okay.

Mrs Charlene Derosier: Ladies and gentlemen, I'm here to ask that the hard-to-serve section not be removed without something else being put in its place. I agree that the hard-to-serve section is not as clear and concise as it should be, but it's all we have at the moment.

It was not until my son entered grade 9 that I found out that he had a condition known as attention deficit hyperactive disorder. This came as a relief to me, as I'd been trying to find out for years why my son was acting out and not producing academically. I had been led to believe that all of my son's problems were due to the family, yet we have raised five children without any major problems.

My son was my first-born, so I had nothing to compare him to. Looking back now, now that I have researched my son's condition and my son's OSR file, his Ontario student record, I can see clearly that the school was fully aware of my son's problems but did not inform me. My husband and my family and I spent a good 10 years in family counselling without ADHD ever being mentioned to us. How can this be possible? If I'd not found the learning disabilities association, I would still be in the dark as to my son's behavioural problems and my son's academic problems. I was and still am very angry that this could happen to my child and my family.

My son first showed signs of hyperactivity at the age of 18 months, but it was not until he was approximately four years of age that I took him to see a specialist. This doctor did not agree with me that my son was hyperactive but agreed to try him on Ritalin anyway. At first I thought it was a miracle drug, but later my son became so lethargic that I decided to handle him the way he was even if he was going to drive me crazy.

I wish I had known more about ADHD and that there were many more children with the same problem, that my child was not alone and that I was not alone and, even more importantly, that I was not to blame for this neurological condition. For as long as I can remember, I have lived with the shame and humiliation one feels when they blame themselves.

The teachers called almost daily to complain about my child's homework or behaviour. I was a cowardly parent who agreed to everything that the teachers wanted me to do or to try. His grade 2 teacher told me that she thought about how she was going to handle my son the whole summer before she got him. Well, she handled him all right. She placed his desk at the back of the classroom facing a wall and ignored him, and if he still disrupted her class, she would put him out in the hall or at the principal's office.

When my son entered grade 3, we had moved to Georgetown, where we were involved in many IPRCs, counselling sessions and emotional assessments. The results all pointed to emotional problems due to poor parenting skills. Even though I do in part agree with this, I feel that had we known what we were dealing with, and also had we been taught how to deal with an ADHD child, my son's behaviour would have improved.

Unexpectedly, we had another move, to Orangeville, so once again my son was into a new school, new teachers, more parent-teacher interviews and more counselling. My son was identified as exceptional. Unfortunately, we knew nothing about this terminology. When we asked, we were told that he had behavioural problems and that he should be sent to a special school to help him deal with his problems. Once again, we were intimidated by the so-called experts and we agreed.

Kennedy Hill School was paid for by the Catholic school board. He was taxied to Brampton, which is three quarters of an hour's drive there and back every day, compliments once again of the Catholic school board. For the first year, my son got practically one-on-one teaching by a wonderful, competent teacher and things were improving academically as well as behaviourally.

When Kinark became Peel Children's Centre, they bought out Charlestown, which was in Caledon and closer to Orangeville. They sent my son to this school, and it appeared to offer very little academically. I was also upset that a lot of the children were developmentally delayed. My son is not. My son is of above-average intelligence, and this seems to be why his learning disability was not identified.

This school did not last long. They were selling the property and my son was once again transferred back to Kennedy Hill. The new teacher who took over for my son did not see anything positive in him, and his behaviour was really out of control. He was now swearing, climbing on top of the school roof and his running-away pattern had begun.

Talking to the teachers, they led us to believe that my son had become too institutionalized and maybe he needed to become integrated again, as he had all the treatment they could possibly supply. It was not until I asked for all the copies of my son's assessments that I found out that in their report they had said that we took my son out of Kennedy Hill against their advice. It also mentioned in this report that when my son's school work was not going smoothly for him, he would threaten suicide.

In grades 7 and 8, my son was given a child care worker to help him deal with any problems now that he was once again integrated into the regular school system. My son did not pass grade 7; he was pushed on for social reasons. He was not allowed to go on his school trip. He was not allowed to go to his grade 8 graduation. If his child care worker was off, I was asked to keep my son home. At one point, my son was home for approximately two weeks due to his child care worker's absence. We had an IPRC meeting scheduled to see about moving my son into grade 9. My son also had frequent brushes with the law. Maybe it's better to be bad than stupid.

In grade 9 my son is earning suspensions and only one credit during the first term. Do you think we're getting close enough to a dropout yet? I took my son to Weston Jacob Centre, and for the first time someone tells me that he has ADHD, that there was a name for it. The psychologist explained my son's condition in terminology that we could understand and really stressed to us that we were not to blame. After so many years of blame being heaped upon us and having every inch of our personal lives picked apart, now we were having someone tell us that it was not our fault. This was very hard to handle, and all I could do was cry. He also told us that learning disabilities could be associated with ADHD.

On a visit to my paediatrician for one of my other children, I saw a flyer on the wall talking about children with ADHD. The doctor then referred me to a Dr Murray at Sick Kids Hospital. This was when my son was put on medication, now for the second time. Dr Murray told me that the lethargic reaction that my son had when he was younger proved to him that he should have been on the drug. A person without ADHD would have had the opposite reaction.

By this time, my son was not happy with anybody and did not believe that anything was going to help him. He was running away, stealing cars and hanging around with a rough crowd. I pulled him off of buses while he was trying to run away, and at one point I had no choice but to let him cool off in a detention centre. He was happy to come home after a week in lockup, and now we were able to start him on medication. I was also able to get my son into sessions with a psychiatrist.


About this time, a friend of mine mentioned the learning disabilities association to me. I was directed to Dr Griff Morgan for testing. This time the testing was educational. We were told that my son had a high IQ but that he was indeed learning-disabled and that he should be identified under communication instead of behavioural.

Now that my son was on medication and settling down incredibly at home, I could show him videos related to ADHD and he was meeting other teens who also had ADD or ADHD. My son was really taking an interest in this and he was no longer tearing his room apart in frustration. His temper tantrums were also decreasing.

I spent the next couple of years trying to get my son the special help he needed, but even though the school tried its best to help make things easier, my son was still not coping. The peer pressure was too great at times and my son was easily used as a scapegoat.

I put an application in at Trillium and then my son and I went to see it. My son's attitude was not great. I could not blame him. I was not impressed with the fact that the kids only went there for two years. A learning disability never goes away. I also asked what the success rate was and they told me 50-50. I also inquired as to what level most of the kids there were working on and they told me that they were either in basic or general courses. They also told me that most of the kids were only taking one or two courses per semester. This was definitely not appropriate for my boy, and even he realized it. This school costs approximately $58,000 per student per year.

My son has attended a private school now for a little over a year. There are only 45 students who attend this school. The facilities look much like a boot camp or trailer park, with very little luxury. They are only there to learn. They have approximately three students to one teacher. They must earn points to go home each weekend. This is done by chores completed. Manners are taught, with proper respect going to the teachers. Social skills for these children are as important as their academic training.

Another important feature of the school is the physical activities that everyone is expected to participate in. If a child acts out, he or she may have to run laps. If work is not up to date or inappropriate, they may have homework makeup.

In the first four months that my son attended this school, he earned seven and a half credits, compared to three in two years of the regular high school setting, and of those three one was phys ed and one was religion. They weren't the hard ones.

The Acting Chair: Mrs Derosier, sorry for interrupting, but we just have about a minute left and I don't want to delay the other presenters. We have a vote in the House as well later this afternoon, so if you could just summarize the balance in your own words in 30 seconds or so.

Mrs Derosier: Okay. What was happening in the regular high school setting is that he was being suspended; he was suspended 30 out of 50 days. In this school he's having success and he's being treated normally, and he's for the first time, actually in his brain, thinking he's normal instead of being thought of as stupid and just acting out and being bad.

If the school system hasn't been able to do this for all these years, and he's finally getting some success, how can anybody take that away from him? I'm just extremely upset that this would be taken away. I think there are many more children out there with these problems and it's about time that we got with it on this.

The Acting Chair: Thank you very much for your very eloquent presentation.


The Acting Chair: Our next presenter is the Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario. Why don't you identify yourselves first, please.

Ms Eva Nichols: Good afternoon. My name is Eva Nichols. I'm the executive director of the Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario. On my left is Tanya Lewis, who is the assistant executive director, and next to her is Joan Schiff, who is coordinator of chapter liaison and deals with the association's 51 chapters throughout the province.

We very much appreciate the fact that you were able to fit us into a cancellation or a vacancy or whatever this turned out to be.

The Acting Chair: Before we proceed any further, do you have anything in writing to hand out or are you just going to proceed?

Ms Nichols: Since I only have known for a very few hours that we were coming in front of you in person, we don't, but we will have some follow-up material.

The Acting Chair: That's fine. It's understandable.

Ms Nichols: But we will have some follow-up material. I have to say that we are disappointed that so many members of the committee are not here, because I think that the issues that are before you are extremely important.

We basically would like to support some sections of Bill 4, and we would like to speak to some others that we do not. First of all, we do want to express the association's stance, which has been in place for many years, that we do support all removal of any reference to students who are identified as "trainable retarded." We appreciated Mr Martin's comments that parents of such children have been looking for equity for a very long time, and we support that. But we would hope that when you are looking at equity issues for that particular population, you will also consider the equity needs of other populations that are different but have just as many needs.

"Equity" means many different things to different people. I think it's important that when you think about this -- and I'm sure you all know this, but it bears repeating -- equity is not equality. I think that when we set out to try and deliver equality, ie, the same thing to everybody, that's when we run into difficulties.

I don't believe there have been any groups in front of you or in front of the Legislature or making delegations to any member of the provincial Parliament looking to eliminate certain things that this government is looking to eliminate from the Education Act. Obviously, we are very concerned about the plan to eliminate the hard-to-serve section, section 35, notwithstanding the fact that we recognize that there are problems with it as it is written. But when you have problems with something, you don't deal with it by just taking it out and then hoping that everybody will trust that somehow it will come out right.

The fact of the matter is that for those few students who have been declared hard to serve and for those others whose parents are still awaiting the convening of a hard-to-serve committee, this is an absolute lost lifeline, and in many cases I think that the situation is quite desperate.

We also would like to remind you that, of course, under the Education Act the minister has certain duties to ensure that there are such things as appropriate identification of learning strengths and needs, early identification programs and appropriate special education programs and services. It seems to us as an organization -- and we have said this on many occasions, so it's not new -- that if in fact the accountability and the equity processes surrounding this were appropriately in place, then the hard-to-serve provision might indeed have disappeared through natural attrition.

It is ironic to note that we have a letter from the previous Minister of Education, who talks about the fact that section 34, as it then was, was originally enacted in 1980 because it was not clear whether pupils with severe learning disabilities could be served through the school system at that time. Since the passage of Bill 82 in 1980, only one pupil has been determined by a school board to be hard to serve. It goes on to say that the minister believes that school boards can do better. This is dated October 30, 1991.

Then that same minister writes that in fact the ministry is now convinced that almost all pupils have their needs met. I would put it to you that "almost all" simply is not good enough, and if any one of us decided that we would pay almost all of our taxes, you quite rightly would not view that very kindly, and I guess we don't view very kindly the comment that almost all is acceptable. Almost all is not acceptable because for those who are not in that "all," in fact it's 100% of their lives. People don't come in neat little packages, and we can't just say, "Well, okay, we won't meet 5% of everybody's needs." That's not how it works.

Since then, there have been comments that the reason why we need to get rid of the hard to serve is because there has been a proliferation of requests. It seems to me that if the original reason is because there has only been one and then it's because we have met almost all needs and now because there is a proliferation, then I think that something is very faulty with the logic.

We would like to recommend to you as a committee to recommend to the Legislature the following: first and foremost, that we have a good Education Act. Yes, it could be better, but it's a very good act, and the regulations are pretty good as well. If in fact they were enforced in such a way that there was proper accountability, much of the concern, bother and upset simply would not occur because children would be identified appropriately, served appropriately.


Yes, we know how to do it with almost all students, but when we don't do it, when we are eliminating, chipping away, cutting away and generally just getting rid of the kind of services that exceptional pupils need, which is happening day by day in our school boards, inevitably the kind of delegations that you see at this committee will keep on happening and you will keep on getting letters from people who are, frankly, upset about what is happening.

We would like to recommend that you very seriously consider the rewriting of section 35, as has been recommended to you by some other groups, in particular the Ministry of Education advisory council. That clause-by-clause revision may not be the ideal, but it would certainly give you a direction in terms of how to meet the needs of exceptional pupils without necessarily bankrupting the province, which is almost the hint that if we carry on funding private schools, what will this mean in terms of our fiscal responsibility?

Finally, I would like to urge you to look at Bill 15, which is a private member's bill tabled by Mr Bob Callahan on May 17, 1993. Certainly that would represent a very good way of ensuring that all exceptional students have their needs met.

The bottom line really is that we are talking here about very vulnerable children and their families, who have been through a tremendous amount. They really deserve our support, our consideration, and ultimately that we don't simply undermine and make the one safety net that they still have disappear.

The Acting Chair: Thank you for your presentation. Questions, comments?

I wouldn't interpret that as lack of interest but rather that perhaps we've all been overcome by the thoughts that you shared with us. I appreciate your attendance here before us today and I look forward to hopefully seeing you again in the future.

Ms Nichols: Thank you.


The Acting Chair: Our next presenters, Heather and James Hunter.

Mrs Heather Hunter: Thank you for allowing us to speak before the committee, Mr Chairman. My name is Heather Hunter and this is my husband, Jim. I'll take a deep breath and start.

Our 15-year-old son has a verbal IQ of 140: a gifted child who reads voraciously at a university level, who has studied military history in depth, who is currently teaching himself German, who is a thinker, a deep conceptualizer and is a joy to have around.

Our 15-year-old son has a performance IQ of 80. Numbers to him are totally foreign; writing an essay is impossible; maps are a puzzle; strings of instructions are an impenetrable maze, and organization is non-existent -- an unusual learning profile, to say the least.

A 15-point difference between verbal and performance is considered significant and indicates that a child may be learning-disabled. A 30-point difference is very significant and the child is definitely learning-disabled. A 40-point difference is almost unheard of. Our son has a 60-point difference. Because of that, he has suffered trauma in the public school system.

It is extremely painful for us to recount the failures, the suspensions, the accusations, the lies; to speak of the months and years of severe stress; to recall the illnesses, hospitalizations and frequent visits to at least 20 doctors, specialists, psychologists, psychiatrists and consultants, all initiated and paid for by us. Because we find it very hard to recount all the details of the past six years, we have included a chronology from 1986 to the present. We hope when you read this you will see why we had to speak out against this legislation.

Section 15 of Bill 4 will repeal section 35 of the Education Act, the piece of legislation that exists to provide educational services for hard-to-serve pupils.

Our experiences with the hard-to-serve process have not been pleasant. Despite the board's best efforts, our son was unable to attend school for any length of time. In 1990, our school board provided a teacher two hours a day in our home for six months. At the time, our son was and had been for several years extremely ill with stomach ulcers that would not heal. His environmental, chemical and food allergies were numerous and severe. He was unable to do any school work and had withdrawn from all outside activities.

The teacher supplied by the board worked wonders. Even though she did not understand the needs of a gifted, learning-disabled child, even though she was not qualified as a special education teacher, in her own words, she used common sense. Instead of treating our son as a behaviour problem, she read all the intellectual reports we supplied to her -- the board had not done so -- and proceeded to come up with her own program, uniquely tailored to our son's abilities and disabilities without the stress that arose in any other class. Once his constant vomiting was finally under control, her program created a sort of miracle. Our son was proud of his accomplishments. For the first time in four years he would discuss school work. He looked forward to his class of one and his self-esteem rose 300%. What a success story.

We were visited in June, 1990, by the supervisor of special services from our board, who agreed with us that that teacher and situation were extremely important to our son, and he suggested another year of the same was indicated. He asked us to inquire of the teacher if she would be available to do the same the following year. One problem arose: She would not be available. It seems that there had been a meeting the previous week where it had been decided to withdraw home tutoring from our son without an IPRC or parental input. The teacher was told not to worry about him.

In August, 1990, the board brought in a mediator who persuaded us to try behaviour class once again, as this was all the board had to offer. Our son lasted exactly 13 days in the placement. We would not put him at risk again. On September 24, 1990, we formally requested a hard-to-serve hearing. We had no other choices open to us.

It was a year and a half after the formal request was granted that the hearing was finally held. The intervening time was a nightmare for all our family. The school board, after several months of promising to get in touch with us about our son's program, finally told us to teach him at home ourselves or send him back to the class that had proved disastrous. There was again no option open to us. We proceeded to investigate private schools, to the extent of borrowing money to try two of them. They were not successful either.

We had a lien for $5,500 put on our house by legal aid to pay for our son's lawyer and we consulted with more professionals. Our son ended up in hospital again with uncontrollable vomiting. His psychiatrist said to keep him out of school for the rest of the year. His paediatrician told us, "You will have to choose between your son's health and his education."

Our hard-to-serve hearing was finally held on April 1, 1992. We presented the evidence, which included reports from three psychologists, a psychiatrist, two allergists and several medical specialists. The committee insisted that it needed additional information to make a decision. We offered to have our son tested at the world-famous Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, the pre-eminent authority in children's illnesses and disabilities in Ontario. The committee rejected this offer.

Then we accepted the committee's recommended testing facility, the Huron-Perth Centre in Clinton. All documentation, both ours and the board's, was reviewed by Dr Reber and Mr Keillor, CEO:

"After reviewing the file, we view with some concern the notion of subjecting him to further assessments. However, if it is required, we recommend that it be done at a medical facility such as Toronto Hospital for Sick Children where all the specialized skills required are available in one location."


What were we to do? At that point, given that up to that date the school board and indeed the hard-to-serve committee had not accepted the exhaustive reports already done, we decided that since our son's future was at stake, we would go to The Clinical Centre for the Study of Development and Learning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to see Dr Mel Levine, an internationally acknowledged expert in learning-disabled children. The committee was apprised of this decision and promptly decided they would not wait for the results of this visit. It was going to be several months before we could get an appointment.

They forwarded a synopsis to the school board on August 10, 1992. It was not a decision. They stated that he "is having difficulty with the educational process being offered to him." Here, they actually found him hard to serve. However, they went on to make a recommendation that he "not be declared hard to serve," a negative.

The committee completely failed in its responsibility. The act dictates that the committee must reach one of two determinations, in 35(3)(c): that he "can profit by instruction offered by the board" or that he "is a hard-to-serve pupil." The committee did neither.

The school board accepted the synopsis as the report required by the committee. Our appeal to the board resulted in a letter on September 28, 1992, "that the board has considered the recommendations of the hard-to-serve committee and resolves that it has determined [he] is not hard to serve but requires a placement in a special-education program." The trustees ignored the fact that our son had not been served by any program of the board for the last two years and therefore was unable to profit from instruction offered by the board.

One would assume that the board, having taken this position, would put an appropriate program in place and that instruction would be undertaken post-haste. This has not occurred.

On October 27, 1992, in answer to an inquiry from us as to the status of our son's program, we received a letter telling us to transfer to another county. This was done without the required IPRC to make such a placement. There has been, to this date, no further communication to us from the school board.

As soon as we received this inappropriate answer, we turned to yet another private school in Canada and have instituted a type of correspondence course that is not ideal. We also applied for leave to appeal to Mr Don Werner, secretary of the English Language Special Education Tribunal. We were denied, after the Solicitor General's ministry had been queried and said that the act does not specify an appeal by parents and that no IPRC had been held to appeal from.

Our son was assessed by Dr Mel Levine at the clinical centre in North Carolina on December 22, 1992. The previous assessments were confirmed. As well, Dr Levine stated: "There are indications that he is becoming increasingly depressed and pessimistic," and, "Furthermore, [he] has developed a significant school phobia, one that might become progressively incapacitating to him."

Throughout his report, Dr Levine repeatedly used the words "when and if" when referring to Graeme's return to a regular school situation. He suggested that if our son ever gets back to a school, even on a part-time basis, he will need an anti-depressant medication. Dr Levine finally noted:

"It is important to point out that he is a boy who has many strengths and a really likable personality. Over the coming years, it will really be important to restore his self-confidence and enable him to recognize that he can become accomplished and gratified within the mainstream of society. He will need continuing support and understanding if he is to make this critical life adjustment."

It is clear that one-on-one home study with an appropriate teacher and a unique program is the only possible solution for our son. This cannot be achieved any way except through hard-to-serve. Even then, it would be difficult to achieve, because the committee is not neutral. The doctor on our committee was a very well known psychiatrist who dealt primarily with the developmentally handicapped, not with the learning disabled. As well, an employee of the board was one of the three members. With the board being totally unsupportive, there is no chance of neutrality.

Please tell the Ministry of Education and the school boards of this province to implement hard-to-serve properly so that it can be of benefit to the pupils of this province. Tell them to find some way to improve section 35 so it is neutral and fair. The onus should be on the board to prove that the student is able to profit from instruction by the board. We hope that no student in Ontario has to again sit for two years while waiting for a school board to provide needed services, and we hope that it is still not too late for our son to reach his potential.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you for your presentation. Are there questions at this time?

Mrs Witmer: Thank you very much, Mr and Mrs Hunter, for your presentation. I know it was very difficult to share the chronology of events with us and I'm sure that many people in this room who haven't had a firsthand experience with problems that you face are probably quite surprised that you could be treated by a school board in the manner in which you have been treated. I guess I would say to you, as a former trustee, I'm shocked that you've been treated in this way.

It was two years that your son has been out of school?

Mrs Hunter: No, basically it's been almost four, actually.

Mrs Witmer: Four years.

Mrs Hunter: Grade 7 was when he was given the six months at home. Grade 8 it was waiting for the hard-to-serve. He was pushed on into grade 9. In grade 9 we tried two private schools very shortly, six months and four days. That was it. And then this year of course there's been nothing either. It's actually been four years.

Mrs Witmer: A total of four years then that he's been outside of the system.

Mrs Hunter: We have no report cards for our child after grade 6.

Mrs Witmer: Now, you indicated here that you received a letter on October 27, 1992, from the board telling you you should transfer to another county, and the board didn't even do the required IPRC. Have you received anything at all from the board since that time? Did they explain why they weren't going to do the IPRC?

Mrs Hunter: No. We have had no direct communication with our board since then. They have sent communications to Mr Don Werner telling him that we are not entitled to an appeal. We signed release-of-information forms and sent them to the school board for them to send information to Mr Werner. They sent nothing.

There's one bright spot. We found out just three days ago that our lawyer has managed to arrange a meeting between ministry officials, the school board and ourselves on June 22. That is our last-ditch plan.

Mrs Witmer: Last resort. Will that meeting be then with the officials of the school board?

Mrs Hunter: Yes.

Mrs Witmer: And what would you hope to achieve through that meeting?

Mrs Hunter: I would hope they're going to offer home instruction. Dr Levine's report has stated that our child cannot be put into a very structured situation or he could conceivably hurt himself, and we will not put our child at risk. He may commit suicide. We can't.

We really believe that if the school board had seen its way to have given our child home instruction with the same teacher for another year, we would not be in this position now. I think he would have been back in school, maybe only half-time, maybe not full-time yet, but that teacher worked wonders. His self-esteem was way up there. He went out and got a paper route and he really got involved in everything again, and now he's down again. We have him in counselling to help deal with the anger. He has extreme anger against the schooling system. It doesn't help when his father's a teacher as well.

Mrs Witmer: No, it never does, does it, if you're too close to the situation. I certainly hope that Mr Martin has listened closely to the presentation that you've made today and I hope that the government will make every attempt possible in order that it does improve, as you've asked for, section 35 so it is neutral and it is fair. It's obvious that certainly it's been of absolutely no benefit to you or to your son. I think we need to realize in this province that you're not the only one. There are so many other individuals who, like yourself and your child, are not being able to access the education that you deserve. We certainly need to start doing things much differently.

I wish your son all the best. I have to tell you, my heart goes out to you and I hope that the meeting does work out well with the ministry and the board.

Mrs Hunter: Thank you.


Mr Hope: A couple of things I'd like to do is go to the pages of chronological information you have, dealing with April 11, 1989, to May 9. He was suspended. Just out of curiosity, a suspension on what?

Mrs Hunter: Pardon?

Mr Hope: What was he suspended -- it said he was suspended.

Mrs Hunter: Suspended: He wouldn't do any work, he was being disruptive, running from the school, that type of thing. His frustration levels were so high, he couldn't cope with anything in school.

Mr Jim Hunter: There was a suspension for soaping some windows at school. There was a suspension for maybe smoking, even though he says he wasn't. There was a suspension for refusing to write out 500 lines for the French teacher, when this boy can't even write one sentence. There was just this ongoing type of thing.

Mr Hope: I noticed even in the suspension for -- suspended for five days, parents appealed and were refused. So you did --

Mrs Hunter: At that appeal -- I didn't go to that appeal, I wish I had; my husband went -- the principal of the school where my son was stood up and --

Mr Hope: With the other one, when the board referred you to another board, why wouldn't the board just purchase -- I take it the board didn't have the service available to provide for you.

Mrs Hunter: Bruce county -- all right, you explain it.

Mr Hunter: The other board that was suggested was Huron county. We live on a boundary line. We are in Bruce county, but we're in the catchment area of another high school. The other high school has no special education classes at all. It does have a challenging learning needs class for very low pupils, of which I was the teacher at one time. When we approached them to say Bruce county has said this, that we should come to them, they said that they had never heard of this before, that they had no programs for my son and that they could not serve him. We did investigate that maybe this might be a position, but it was of no use to us, of no benefit.

Mr Hope: As I'm trying to go through the whole information and sitting here trying to -- if the board was aware of a problem that they had and they couldn't provide services and they knew of another board, I take it that's why they referred you to another board, why they wouldn't purchase the service from them and still have him in the home.

Mrs Hunter: I seriously believe that that letter was just to say, "We hope you'll get off our back." The school board has tried everything. The first -- how many years -- three, four years, they tried everything and nothing worked. It was very unfortunate that the one thing they did try that worked was taken away. They really had nothing left to try and when our son was declared not hard to serve, what's left? "Maybe he'll go away a little bit and let us get on with the things we can deal with."

In all honesty, to teach our son would be extremely difficult. He's very, very bright; he's also very, very frustrated. Teachers tend to treat him either as a gifted child, "Okay, you can do everything," or, "You're severely learning-disabled; you can do nothing." We need a teacher who can go down the middle of the road and go on both sides.

Mr Hope: Just to refresh my memory, because I'm looking at the whole paperwork here, you've got --

Mrs Hunter: There's so much, I know.

Mr Hope: I'm trying to go through it. Why did they remove the teacher from the in-home program?

Mrs Hunter: We do not know why. The one answer that we were given was because he missed a number of sessions with her and, yes, he did. When she started in January, he was still bringing up 20 to 30 times a day. He was still suffering severe headaches. He did miss a lot of sessions with that teacher; however, once the paediatrician got him on Losec, which is a very strong ulcer medication, he bounced right up. The headaches went, the vomiting stopped. That's why we started really getting results with this teacher and I really think that they felt now he's not sick, now he can go back into the regular class. It didn't work.

Mr Hope: I have no further questions because I'm still trying to go through the information, but I must say, the information you have here leaves something to be looked at very closely about the protocol and I guess the -- it's amazing that some of the school board trustees -- and I only leave those comments at face value, because I've been dealing with autistic children and having the same problem.

Mrs Hunter: I don't know what one is supposed to do. We just keep trying. We're going to keep fighting.

Mr Hunter: We've looked to the hard-to-serve process as being a last hope for us. This time we've hit a wall. We had nowhere to go, there was nothing to do, and we think that the hard-to-serve process is a benefit to all parents if dealt with properly. It gives them someplace to go, some method of appeal, of going beyond their own board. We just wish that the process would work the way we think it was intended to in the original legislation. It seems that it is not being dealt with that way. Even when we talked to Mr Cyze at the ministry, our regional director, he seemed a bit confused about the process. He even called it a judicial process where, in effect, it's an informal hearing. I think there's a lot of need to know at the ministry level so that they can inform the school boards how properly to carry out the hard to serve.

Mr Hope: I take it in one of your recommendations you say it should be arm's length from the board trustees.

Mrs Hunter: Most definitely. If you've got a principal of that school board on the committee, they're not going to go against what the board wants. Our school board officials stood up at that hearing and said, "We can provide all the services that this boy needs." They were not questioned by the committee what the services would be, what the program would be, anything. They just said: "Oh, okay, you can do it. He is not hard to serve." We also need someone on those committees that the parent has a chance to pick to go on, from the learning disabilities association perhaps, or a specialist who we know really knows about learning-disabled children.

Mr McGuinty: Thank you very much, Mr and Mrs Hunter, for making what I feel is a very compelling case to the effect that instead of eliminating section 35 of the hard-to-serve provisions, rather what we should be doing is strengthening them in some ways to make them more effective. I hope the government members on this committee will pay very close attention to the case that you've made.

The second thing I want to do is to commend you and other parents who've appeared before this committee for putting your heads down and pushing on in circumstances which are hardly something that you'd want to wish on anyone. I think it was John Steinbeck who wrote about people who lead lives of quiet desperation. Perhaps it's an appropriate phrase with respect to you, but I think it's incumbent on us as legislators to address that. You shouldn't be leading lives of quiet desperation. The government should be holding out a hand to help address your special circumstances.

So I encourage you, keep plugging, and I'm sure at some point in time you'll meet with success. Hopefully, as I say, the government members sitting on this committee will be able to exert influence within their own caucus and help bring forward an amendment to this bill which should help address your special concerns.

Mr Martin: I've certainly listened to what you had to say and I can't help but be affected by the story. I guess I'm wondering, as perhaps others are, why the IPRC program wasn't implemented properly and why the school board itself, in seeing that it had something that did work re the home schooling situation -- which was a situation that was presented to us last week as an alternative to a family who had a son who was learning-disabled, but it wasn't appropriate and they didn't want that, so they told the school board they didn't want that. So they were looking at hard-to-serve as a way of finding another route.

It seems to me that what we have here is an issue of people who have responsibility not taking responsibility for getting the job done that is supposed to be done under the legislation, Bill 80. I'm wondering what the hard-to-serve provision will do or could do for you if you were given that, except to perhaps have the ministry buy for you some home schooling which the school board already has the ability to do and chooses not to.

Mrs Hunter: I believe, though, the school board cannot give home study for more than -- I don't know what the length of time is, but it's not all that long -- without it being for a strictly medical reason. Since our son, when he is at home and being taught the proper way, does not suffer the extreme vomiting he does when he attends regular school, then we do not have that medical problem there that leaves the board not being able to implement that. So it would have to be through a private service perhaps, and that would have to be from hard-to-serve, because the school board cannot purchase services from the private sector. Am I right there?

Mr Martin: We're going to check that out for you with some ministry officials so that you know and we know. It seems to me, though, that you do have a medical situation here that would warrant the school board, if it so chose, to provide you with what you need. I guess I'm not wont to let the school boards off the hook in terms of their responsibility in this instance and, it seems to me, so many other instances where they have a responsibility to take care of their own. But we'll wait and see what the --

Mrs Hunter: They did say, when we appealed to the board after it had been presented with the decision from the hard-to-serve committee -- two members of the board said, "Yes, we can definitely supply home study." That's why we were so very surprised two months later to receive the letter saying, "Go to Huron county." I don't know what happened in the interim, what discussions they had.

Mr Martin: You've certainly brought it to our attention and we're going to check out the regulation on that so that we can share it with the rest of the committee, and when we get down to looking at this piece of legislation, we can have that and then perhaps have it help us in making the right decision re this particular piece.

Mr Hope: Just on that point, I think it's appropriate that the address of both Jim and Heather is on here and I think it's important that we forward the information directly to them.

The Vice-Chair: That's a good point. That's noted.

Any other questions? If not, thank you for your presentation. We appreciate your coming before us.

Mrs Hunter: Thank you for allowing us to speak.

The Vice-Chair: Is there any other item of business for the committee at this time? If not, the standing committee on social development, which has been holding hearings on Bill 4, An Act to amend certain Acts relating to Education, stands adjourned.

The committee adjourned at 1753.