Monday 7 June 1993

Subcommittee report

Education Statute Law Amendment Act, 1993, Bill 4

Advisory Council on Special Education

Eva Nichols, chair

Margaret Walker, member


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

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

*Carter, Jenny (Peterborough ND)

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

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

*Martin, Tony (Sault Ste Marie ND)

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

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

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

Owens, Stephen (Scarborough Centre ND)

*Rizzo, Tony (Oakwood ND)

*Wilson, Jim (Simcoe West/-Ouest PC)

*In attendance / présents

Substitutions present / Membres remplaçants présents:

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

Also taking part / Autres participants et participantes:

Lindhout, Julie, director, legislation branch, Ministry of Education and Training

Clerk / Greffier: Arnott, Douglas

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

The committee met at 1541 in room 151.

The Vice-Chair (Mr Ron Eddy): We now have a quorum, so the standing committee on social development on Bill 4, An Act to amend certain Acts relating to Education, is now in session.


The Vice-Chair: Item 1, report of the subcommittee, has been circulated, so you've had an opportunity to examine it. Any questions, or do we have a motion?

Mr Jim Wilson (Simcoe West): Mr Chairman, perhaps you could fill us in on what the discussion has been with the House leaders. I understand that the request for a second evening has been rejected by the House leaders.

The Vice-Chair: I didn't know about that. We haven't had a report back.

Mrs Yvonne O'Neill (Ottawa-Rideau): I understand also, Mr Chairman, that the continuing requests from the opposition through the House leaders is for an extension into the summer recess for hearings. That's the way it was left.

Mr Jim Wilson: I would concur with that understanding.

The Vice-Chair: Any other point the member wishes to make? If not, how would you like to dispose of the report? Is it agreed that --

Mrs O'Neill: I think it's slightly inaccurate, Mr Chairman, and as a result I don't think we can accept it, because the section on what has been agreed to regarding the evenings, "That the Chair be directed to write to the House leaders" -- I think we have to say that that is unresolved, or else the -- it's correct that we asked that that be done, but the resolution has not happened and I think we have to note that somewhere.

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I was under the impression that we would, at some point either today or tomorrow, have another subcommittee meeting to deal with just that issue and then once we've decided how much time we have, to then talk about how we will schedule the people who are going to come before us. There's nothing in this report that I can see that wasn't what we decided to do at that subcommittee, so in terms of accepting this report, I have no difficulty. I think we can certainly have the discussion that Ms O'Neill is referring to, perhaps in subcommittee, where we can then ascertain what we're going to do with the people who will come before us and how we will schedule them now that we're short an evening.

Mrs O'Neill: If I may answer that, Mr Chairman, I really don't see us meeting as a subcommittee, because the only thing we can do is trust that the House leaders will resolve this. We have nothing more to offer the House leaders. It's now in the hands of the House leaders. They know what we're requesting; we've put it in writing. The House leaders themselves have other ideas about this, particularly ours and, I presume, from the Tories, and I don't think we should mess with their discussions.

Mr Jim Wilson: If I may add to that, I agree with what Mrs O'Neill has just expressed. To agree with Mr Martin, I don't see any problem with passing the minutes; I think they are an accurate account of what was decided at that time. However, I want to make it clear that as a member of the subcommittee I am not attending any more subcommittee meetings of this committee regarding this piece of legislation until there's clear direction from the government House leader as to what the government's intentions are. I'm getting a little tired of attending these subcommittee meetings, only to have suggestions that are concurred in in those meetings rejected by the government or the House leaders of the three parties. It's a waste of our time as parliamentarians and I would look to the government and particularly Mr Martin, the parliamentary assistant, for clear direction to this committee before he summons us together again.

Mr Martin: I think it was fairly clear when I attended my first subcommittee meeting last week that our intention is to get this piece of legislation back into the House before the House goes down on June 25.

Mrs O'Neill: It's recessing, not going down.

Mr Martin: Recessing, whatever, yes. Excuse me.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): Bad choice of words.

Mr Martin: Recessing, rising, whatever the language that you want to use is. That's what we were intending. We attempted to accommodate some more people coming forward before the committee to make their presentations, but that's obviously not in the cards, so I suggest that we get on with the business of the committee.

The Vice-Chair: I have the subcommittee's report. Is there consensus it be adopted? Agreed.


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

Mr Martin: It is indeed a pleasure to be here today and to be introducing this legislation to this committee. I hope that we will have a constructive and positive time together over the next couple of weeks as we look at this very important move forward re how we deliver education to the children of this province.

There are many things in this bill that are certainly not new in any way. There have been attempts made over the last few years to bring some of this forward. It has now been gathered together in an omnibus fashion under the guise of Bill 4, and we will be more than happy to entertain any comment of improvement or ways that we might amend this to perhaps make it meet the spirit and the intent of the original piece that we brought forward.

I'd like to spend my time here today outlining the major items in this bill and putting them into context with the aims of the government.

Junior kindergarten: As members know, Bill 4 makes it mandatory for school boards to offer junior kindergarten classes by September 1994. The bill also provides that the minister may make a regulation allowing those boards that demonstrate they need more time to implement junior kindergarten to do so over a period of three years beginning in September 1994, according to conditions established by the regulation.

This measure speaks to the government's commitment to provide opportunities for all children in Ontario to benefit from early educational programs. Numerous research studies have shown that the period from three to eight years of age is extremely important in the intellectual and social development of children and to their later success.

In the junior kindergarten and kindergarten years, children begin to develop considerable social and physical skills. They also begin to hone their language and thinking skills when they are given opportunity to do so. As an example, there are growing numbers of young children whose first language is neither French nor English. By giving them an opportunity for early education programs in junior kindergarten, they can interact with other children and learn the language of instruction.

Most importantly, young children, through interaction with other youngsters and adults, can develop confidence in themselves and gain positive attitudes towards learning. In addition, it is clear that early identification of a child's special needs can provide an earlier opportunity to provide special programs to help the child.

These are the reasons the government is committed to junior kindergarten. However, this measure does not force parents or guardians to enrol their children in junior kindergarten. It will remain a parent's decision whether or not to enrol children in both junior kindergarten and in kindergarten.

I would like to point out that out of 172 school boards in Ontario, only 20 do not yet have junior kindergarten programs.


To help boards offset the costs of implementing junior kindergarten, beginning in 1990 the Treasurer allocated to the ministry $54 million in operating grants for the implementation of junior kindergarten and full-day senior kindergarten.

However, because implementation of junior kindergarten programs by those school boards that do not yet have them has been slower than anticipated, these funds have not been fully utilized. There are no plans therefore to allocate additional funds to junior kindergarten beyond the $54 million.

Child care: Let me now move to the measure in Bill 4 which will allow a school board to be the operator of child care programs under the Day Nurseries Act. This will not force boards to get into the day care business. It is a voluntary measure which promotes and strengthens schools and child care partnerships. In fact, it removes a barrier to school board participation where needed.

There are communities throughout the province where a child care centre is needed and where a school has space but where no agency is available to provide the service. This amendment will allow school boards to hold a licence which a number of boards have asked for so that they can link educational and child care programs. We will also be moving an amendment to clarify the role of the French language sections of school boards with regard to child care licences.

The child care programs will be operated under the Day Nurseries Act, which means they will be staffed not by teachers but by early childhood educators. We believe this is an important step to ensuring that necessary services are better coordinated for children.

ASL and LSQ: Another amendment concerns the use of American sign language, ASL, and la langue des signes québécois, LSQ, as languages of instruction for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. This was a recommendation in the report on deaf education and is supported by many parents. It would also make education more accessible to those students in whose homes ASL or LSQ are used. ASL and LSQ are very much a part of deaf culture in anglophone and francophone communities in North America.

Bill 4 would also repeal the hard-to-serve provisions in the Education Act. When the current special education legislation was passed in 1980, it was not known whether the school system would be able to educate some students who needed special health care treatment. To make sure that a program would be available for these students, the hard-to-serve provisions require that when a school board determines that a student is hard to serve and the student needs to be educated elsewhere, the government must pay the cost of placing the student.

Today, special education is a well-developed and integral part of our education system. Appropriate special education programs are available through school boards or through residential placements at ministry-run schools for the deaf and blind and for learning-disabled students. So removal of the hard-to-serve provisions does not mean that children will be left out in the cold. There are programs to meet the needs of special students.

Currently, there are about 165,000 students enrolled in special education programs in Ontario. This represents about 17% of the total student population. In recent years, there has been tremendous growth in special education programs at local school boards. As an indication of the 165,000 special education students identified in the province, 163,661 are enrolled in programs operated by school boards.

Examples of the kinds of special education programs operated by school boards include programs for students with special needs such as behaviour, autism, hard of hearing, learning and developmental disabilities, speech and language and low vision.

There are also a very few students whose medical needs cannot be met in Ontario at this time. These are often children with severe psychiatric or conduct disorders. In these cases, OHIP authorizes placement for them in facilities out of the country. If their medical treatment includes an education program, Bill 4 would give the Ministry of Education and Training authority to pay towards the cost of the education program.

Bill 4 also removes the term "trainable retarded" from the Education Act because the term is no longer acceptable to either parents or the education community. This does not mean there will no longer be programs for these children. By removing this term and its provisions, we are broadening the range of placements for these students, and in so doing, we remove a perceived barrier to the integration and placement of students with developmental disabilities. Bill 4 ensures that all exceptional students will now have access to the same procedures for identification and placement.

Regulation 305 of the act already sets out the policy for special education identification placement and review committees and appeals of committee decisions. That regulation continues in effect, of course. Among other things, regulation 305 specifically states that school boards must prepare a guide for parents describing the identification and placement review process and the parents' right to appeal any decision of the board committee.

I would like to move on now to another measure in Bill 4 that has raised some questions by members. That is the amendment that establishes some uniformity in the length of time a student may be suspended from school. Currently, the maximum length of a suspension is set by the local school board. This has resulted, in some cases, in almost indefinite absences from school by a student. Bill 4 sets 20 school days as the maximum length of a suspension. As well as establishing some uniformity throughout the province, 20 days allows boards, in most cases, to make arrangements for support services a student may require. If students continue their inappropriate behaviour after returning to school, they may be suspended again.

The amendment says that students may not return to school while they appeal a suspension. We believe this measure is necessary to ensure the safety and wellbeing of other students in the school. If the appeal decides that the student was wrongfully suspended, the student may return to school. If the suspension has already been served by then, the information on the suspension will be removed from the student's record. Of course, the provisions for expulsion are not changed and, where warranted, in extreme cases boards may expel students.

Bill 4 also contains an amendment that will require school boards to notify the Minister of Education and Training if a teacher is convicted of a Criminal Code offence involving sexual conduct involving a minor, or of any other offence that in the opinion of the board indicates that students may be at risk. The reason for this amendment is clearly to ensure the safety of students.


The Education Act gives the minister the authority to suspend or cancel a teacher's certificate, thus prohibiting the teacher from teaching in Ontario and, in effect, anywhere else in Canada. Teachers who have been decertified are informed that their names are circulated to all Ontario school boards and to all education ministers in Canada.

There are very precise procedures set forth in the act and in the ministry's document on policies and procedures before a decision is made by the minister to decertify a teacher. These procedures involve the teacher's school board, the Ontario Teachers' Federation and officials at the Ministry of Education and Training.

Finally, during the second reading debate on this bill, the member for Oriole requested that consideration be given to the introduction of an amendment that would reflect the intent of the bill she introduced last year concerning admittance to school of the children of illegal immigrants. We are prepared to move such an amendment for the committee's consideration.

These, then, are highlights of the amendments contained in Bill 4, and I will be glad to answer any questions you may have. There are also staff from the ministry, who will be able to give more detailed information as needed. I believe they're going to make a presentation as well right now, if the Chair will allow.

The Vice-Chair: Would you like to come forward and make the presentation?


The Vice-Chair: I was asked that we have the full presentation before questions. However --

Mrs O'Neill: Well, I would like to ask some political questions, and I think they should go to the parliamentary assistant.

In section 11, which is a section regarding junior kindergarten, there is a discussion about the $54 million. I'm not clear what kind of commitment the parliamentary assistant made to that. The figures state that $19 million has been taken up, so where are we with the other $30-plus million? Is it on hold, or has it gone into the general revenue fund, or -- you say no more funds will be added. Is this still in the bank?

Mr Martin: As I said in my opening comments, there will be no more money above and beyond the $54 million. I don't have a precise answer for you on that one, but I will get it for you.

Mrs O'Neill: Well, that is a very, very important question, and certainly the boards that are yet to begin are going to want to know where that $30 million-plus is.

My second question, also a political question, I think, on section 12: I wanted you, if you could, Mr Martin, to be a little clearer on what you said about the fact that you want to remove the term "hard to serve," but you had, at least I thought, an impression that there would still be a group of students without a label who, if their diagnosis was somehow tied to a medical condition, could be educated even outside the country and that the educational component would be paid for by the Ministry of Education and Training. Is that correct?

Mr Martin: Yes.

Mrs O'Neill: Are these the same students we'd know as hard to serve?

Mr Martin: I suppose there are situations where they might be, but I think the important piece here is that they're first of all identified by the Ministry of Health as needing the services that it provides. Given that that decision is made, we would then provide the money for their education and training while they're out of the country.

Mrs O'Neill: Okay. I find a lot of the presumptions you made in your introduction to this section less than solid at this moment. I don't know about the boards you deal with on a regular basis, but the boards I deal with, unfortunately -- and they feel it's unfortunate as well -- are making special education cutbacks even as we speak. Unfortunately, many of them began there, and the integration program is not going to have the supports it has had. To then have another uncertainty put in the special education field in education at this moment makes me very, very uncomfortable.

I have another question on that section, but it is a more technical question and I'll leave it for the ministry staff.

The Vice-Chair: Any other questions at this time? If not, would the staff of the ministry come forward, please, and make their presentation? Give your name, please.

Mrs Julie Lindhout: I'm Julie Lindhout, director of the legislation branch in the Ministry of Education and Training. I would like to basically take the committee members through the bill.

You have before you a binder which we have organized according to the notes of Bill 4. For each item you have a divider, and for each item I have given also whether or not this particular item was in a previous bill, because that will give you an indication of how well-known that has been and what kind of consultation there has been on that. It also indicates the specific sections of the bill dealing with that point, and a very brief description.

On those sections that are fairly technical and where more information might be useful to you, we have included some additional material for you. Again, if you request more material over the next little while, we can provide it for you and you can add it to the sections on the bill.

So if we start with the first section, section 1, there are a number of issues in this bill that arose because of legislation introduced by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs that dealt with fairly technical issues on assessment and apportionment of various levies. There were some oversights: The proportionalities and the various specific provisions for school boards in some cases were missed, and the various clauses in this bill correct those situations.

So the first note regards the definitions of "commercial assessment" and "residential and farm assessment." They are duplicated in these other bills. It makes people think that they're different; in fact, they are not. So we propose simply to remove them from all other areas so that there is a clarity that only the definitions in the Education Act apply.

The second issue relates to the apportionment of telephone and telegraph levies in specific regional municipalities that have been reassessed under their legislation. According to the Education Act, there's a very definite formula that splits these T and T levies between public and separate school boards in proportion to the residential and farm assessment, and this simply restores that proportion.

Item 3 is here at the request of the district council for Muskoka. Property assessments are scheduled on a four-year cycle and the valuations are tied to a specific base year. In establishing the market values for a base year, the shoulder years -- in other words, the years immediately before and immediately after the base years -- are also used. The district council for Muskoka requested that 1988 not be used as the base year as it believed it was an atypical year. So they requested in 1993 the use of 1992 for 1994 taxation, and that request was granted. However, they have now requested that 1993 be included because there were insufficient sales in 1992 to create a reliable base for market values. This is included in this bill because the assessment base is important for both municipal and school board taxation.

Item 4: The references to "trainable retarded children" and "trainable retarded pupils" are removed from the Education Act and from the Ottawa-Carleton French-Language School Board Act. In 1987, concerns were raised before the standing committee on administration of justice regarding the constitutionality of the provisions, and therefore the minister made a commitment at that time that those sections would be reviewed. We are now bringing forward the repeal of the provisions respecting "trainable retarded." This means that now the very same procedures for identification and placement that apply to other exceptional pupils will also apply to the pupils who were previously called trainable retarded. We now recognize them as exceptional pupils with developmental disabilities.

We have offered for you some statistics on the numbers of students who were previously identified as trainable retarded, with an indication of whether they are in full-time enrolment, partial integration or regular classes.

Issue 5 --


Mr Bisson: Just for clarification on issue 4, how are you referring to them now? Exceptional pupils what?

Mrs Lindhout: With developmental handicaps, developmental disabilities.

Issue 5: This clarifies that any alteration of county or municipal boundaries that was made between 1974 and the end of 1992 will result in coterminous boundaries with the school boards. Boundary changes during this period were actually very minimal, but there were a few minor changes. It clarifies that the school board boundaries are the same.

The cutoff date for January 1, 1993, was chosen so that it would not prejudice the negotiations occurring at this time in London and in Middlesex county, because those are more than minimal boundary changes. Those negotiations can still be completed. The minister then is able to, by order, provide for the boundaries in that situation.

Item 6 deals with provincial reviews. This gives the Minister of Education and Training the explicit authority to conduct reviews of classroom practices. With the increased focus on accountability and a review of education programs and student achievement, it's appropriate to make explicit the authority that has always been implicit in the legislation and state clearly that school boards and inspected private schools will be required to participate in these reviews.

There have been some questions about the applicability of this to the inspected private schools, but the ministry already inspects private secondary schools that request inspection because they wish to grant the Ontario secondary school diploma. Provincial reviews are among the methods used to determine the quality of the instruction that would allow the minister to permit a private school to grant the Ontario secondary school diploma. It's important for the ministry to be able to report on the quality of education in all schools granting the OSSD.

Issue 7 is one that was already referred to. It would grant the minister the authority to pay education costs for education received outside Ontario by a person who is outside Ontario for the purpose of receiving health services covered by the Ontario health insurance plan. From time to time, OHIP determines that certain children need to be treated outside the country, and if their medical care and treatment includes an education program, the ministry can now pay towards the cost of the education program.

On two occasions, a board used the hard-to-serve provisions of the Education Act to have the government provide the funding. Again, it was not really an appropriate use, because the boards would have been able to provide an education program if the student had been treated in Ontario. Most of the treatment centres have agreements with school boards that provide an education service. However, the hard-to-serve section was used because there was no other authority in the Education Act to permit the minister to pay for the education of these students. If we are repealing the hard-to-serve, we want to make sure that there is authority for the minister to pay for such students.

Issue 8 deals with the authorization to use American sign language and Quebec sign language as languages of instruction. Currently, the Education Act only permits French and English to be used as languages of instruction. Other languages can be used as subjects of instruction, but not as languages as a means of teaching other subjects. This is an amendment that the deaf community has been waiting for.

We've provided you with a note to give some additional information also on how we are planning to deal with the supply of teachers qualified in ASL, because it is a language that many of the teachers need to learn.

The next issue deals with an amendment to the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act that will permit the local school boards to take over the responsibility for the education of those students we've formerly recognized as trainable retarded. At the moment, in the two-tier system of public school boards in Metropolitan Toronto, it is the Metropolitan Toronto School Board that is authorized to provide special education programs. It currently operates 47 such schools.

A task force of this school board examined the delivery of programs and in 1988 recommended that the local public school boards assume responsibility for these pupils. This recommendation is fully supported by the public school boards in Metro. The divestment of the programs and services involves the transfer of both teaching and non-teaching staff and the bill contains provisions to protect the employment status of these employees.

There is an additional note provided for you too that describes the current situation and the intent of the programs after transfer. As an additional note, this has no effect on the separate school board in the Metropolitan Toronto area; it's only the public board.

Issue 10 deals with the suspension of pupils. It provides, first of all, that a suspension cannot exceed 20 school days. In some cases, there have been almost indefinite absences and that is felt not to be appropriate. However, a sufficient amount of time needs to be given to permit boards to provide for support services that a pupil may require, because those students who are suspended for any length of time usually have problems that are not directly educational problems but they need support in other areas. This doesn't mean that the student can then come back to the school and not be suspended again. If the student's behaviour is still inappropriate, the student can be suspended again.

A student cannot return to school while the suspension is being appealed. In many cases, that is necessary to ensure the safety of other students. However, if it's determined that the student was wrongfully suspended and the suspension has been served, then the record will be clear. There will be no indication.

These amendments also give boards the option to establish committees to deal with expulsions and suspensions rather than have these issues dealt with by the whole board. This provision will enable some boards to deal more quickly with these cases, including hearing appeals of suspensions. Currently, a whole board has to hear these and for some boards that creates problems, bringing the whole board together. This permits them to set up a committee, but it doesn't require them. They can continue with their current arrangement. We've provided an additional note for you on the suspension provisions.

Issue 11 deals with the operation of kindergartens and, after August 31, junior kindergartens, and gives the power to the Lieutenant Governor in Council to allow a board to phase in the junior kindergarten requirement by September 1, 1997.

The government is convinced of the importance of permitting a child to receive a broadened educational opportunity through early learning, which has been shown to have a positive impact on later learning. The mandatory requirement will promote equity of access across the province since many boards have already implemented the program. We often get questions of, "Why, if I lived in this board, could my child attend junior kindergarten and, if I live in another board, he or she cannot?"

The bill now, however, allows for a phase-in period of three years according to conditions to be set out in a regulation for junior kindergarten, because of the fact that some boards have indicated that they will not be able to fully implement the program in September 1994. We've provided for your information a fairly lengthy briefing note on the implementation of junior kindergarten. Kindergarten is no issue because all boards already have that.

We also provide at the end a list of the boards not offering junior kindergarten as of September 1993 and a list of boards that will require an exemption to phase in. The reason they're different is that among those boards that do offer, there are a few that don't have the complete program throughout the whole board, so many still need an exemption to phase in over the three years the complete program in the whole board. On your list of those requiring an exemption, you may wish to add the information that we just got, that is, that the Oxford board of education will also probably require an exemption.


Then we have also added for your information a list of funds for large-scale equipment that has been provided over the past three years to school boards for the implementation of junior kindergarten.

Issue 12 deals with the repeal of the hard-to-serve. After this repeal, those students will be governed by the same provisions that apply to other exceptional pupils. These are the amendments that were previously contained in Bill 37.

As was already stated, the government now feels that special education is a well-developed and integral part of our education system, and there are appropriate special education programs available through school boards or through residential placements provided at ministry-run provincial or demonstration schools.

The amendment is consistent with the responsibility of school boards to provide appropriate special education programs for all their exceptional pupils, whether they do so directly or through arrangement with another board, a provincial residential demonstration school, a provincial school or a care and treatment facility operated by the Ministry of Community and Social Services.

There is a date mentioned in the bill so that it's clear that pupils who have been found hard to serve by a school board before June 2, 1992, which was the date of introduction of Bill 37, will continue to have the cost of their placement funded by Ontario until June 30 of the school year in which the legislation comes into force. So there will be some consistency, students who will not be cut off in midyear.

We've provided some additional information for you on hard-to-serve pupils and how it's been used, and also information on the current situation with regard to special education: the numbers of programs, the programs that are available, the numbers of students enrolled in such programs, an outline of complete statistics on all those students who have been identified as students with exceptionalities.

One further piece of information that we will be providing for you soon is an outline of the whole identification, placement and review process, including the appeal process and how the special education tribunal would work in order to see how parents can still have recourse to hearings and have their children appropriately placed. Finally in that, a note on the proportion of education spending related to special education.

Issue 13 removes a distinction between qualifications for admission to a continuing education course that is eligible for credit towards a secondary school diploma and the qualifications for admission to day school courses that are eligible for credit. It's no longer appropriate to have different standards of admission for courses that lead to the same credit for an Ontario secondary school diploma, so this amendment will enable more adults to choose the day school or continuing education program that is most suitable to their needs. We've provided, for your information, some information on the takeup in continuing education and also how it's funded at the moment.

Issue 14 is a housekeeping item related again to municipal affairs legislation. It deals with the definition of "municipal auditor." Currently, school boards are required to have their books audited by persons licensed as municipal auditors. This qualification was removed in recent municipal affairs legislation, and the standard is now auditors licensed under the Public Accountancy Act. Therefore, the Education Act is amended to be consistent so that people are not looking for qualifications that no longer exist.

The next item is also a housekeeping item. There is already a requirement for all other boards that if a person wishes to make an objection to someone else's right to vote in matters relating to school board elections, they have to be Canadian citizens. This provision is not in the section dealing with rural separate school boards, so adding it makes those provisions consistent with provisions for all other boards.

Issue 16 deals with another one of the reassessment issues. There are a number of areas that are reassessed from time to time, and it was not clear in the municipal legislation that during the time the reassessment is in progress, the proportionality that exists under the Education Act continues to apply. Again, it's very important that it be clear what the proportionality is between public and separate school boards. So this makes it clear that the existing equalization factors continue until they are reassessed.

Issue 17: An obsolete reference to the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs is corrected. This reference still alludes to the time when what is now the Ministry of Municipal Affairs was a division of the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs, and therefore a power that the Minister of Municipal Affairs now has is referred to in the Education Act as a power of the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.

Issue 18 deals with a redundancy in calculating fees for Roman Catholic separate school students who are being educated in public secondary schools. At the time of the extension of funding, there were of course numbers of Roman Catholic students being educated in the public secondary schools. When the separate school boards elected to extend their programs for the senior division, those students who were in the public system and who wanted to stay there were allowed to stay there even though their parents might be switching the assessment, might be redirecting their taxes. They were allowed to stay there and special provisions were made for the payment of fees.

There was another provision that, under open access, students from either public or separate can attend secondary schools of the other board, and their home board, of which they are the resident students, must pay the receiving board. Again, there was a calculation of fees allowed for by regulation for that. Therefore, to simplify the situation we're removing the one dealing with the grandparented students and sticking only with the calculation of fees for open access. So there's only one way of calculating the fees. It doesn't remove any rights of students to either stay in the public secondary schools -- it doesn't affect their rights.

Issue 19 deals with the requirement of school boards to notify the minister if a teacher is convicted of an offence involving sexual conduct and minors or of any other offence that may put pupils at risk. Most school boards do report these cases to the minister, but they're not required to do so. When the minister is notified, he initiates a process of determining whether the teacher's certificate should be suspended or cancelled, and we've included in your package the document that outlines the policies and procedures that the Ministry of Education and Training then follows to determine whether a teacher's certificate should be suspended or cancelled. This is a fairly lengthy process that recognizes due process, at the end of which, if a teacher's certificate is suspended or cancelled, then the teacher is notified that that information also goes out to other ministers of Education and to all the school boards.

It tends also to affect other countries, because a lot of countries, if people move and teachers wish to become certified, ask for evidence that they are teachers in good standing in the jurisdiction that they came from. Therefore, it's important to follow a very careful process in this.

Issue 20 deals with textbooks for continuing education courses. At the moment, students in continuing education courses are required to provide their own textbooks. This will permit the minister, by regulation, to ask school boards to provide textbooks for students in continuing education credit courses.

However, the continuing education student population is a more transient population. Sometimes these are students who are residents of one board and take the continuing education courses wherever they are available. School boards have asked us if they would be able to require a nominal deposit to help ensure that the textbooks are returned, and this will allow them to do so.


Issue 21 would give the school boards the authority to establish, operate and maintain day nurseries, because they will be enabled to hold a licence under the Day Nurseries Act. They will be holding it under the Day Nurseries Act, so that all the requirements of the Day Nurseries Act apply in this situation. It doesn't mean that they then become education programs and fall under the Education Act. We have provided additional information for you on some statistics for school-based child care: the number of centres, the number of children in school-based child care centres and a variety of other issues.

Since Bill 88 first appeared, and Bill 4 where this was first introduced, the French-language community asked whether it would be able to hold the licences. Strictly speaking, a French-language section of a school board is not a corporate entity in order to hold the licence, but we will be introducing an amendment to explain that for the purposes of child care licences they will be able to hold a licence and that this becomes one of the areas of exclusive jurisdiction for the French-language sections of school boards.

We've also included in the package a copy of the joint statement at the time from the Minister of Community and Social Services and the Minister of Education on child care in the schools and a package of questions and answers that deal with some of the issues, some of the questions that have again arisen recently.

The next issue, issue 22, deals with sick leave credits when teachers move from one school board to another. Currently, there are a number of situations in which teachers who for one reason or another leave the employ of one board and move to another board can carry with them their sick leave credits. The only situation is that if they take other employment elsewhere and then go to another board, they cannot carry the sick leave credits with them. If they return to the employ of the same board where they were before, they can.

It seems inequitable to allow certain teachers to be able to carry over the sick leave credits and not others. It's particularly inequitable in that this has a disproportionate effect on women, since they more frequently move with their spouses to other jurisdictions and, especially in times of oversupply of teachers, have not been able to get teaching jobs immediately, have sometimes had to take other jobs until teaching positions opened up. Then, when they were able to get teaching jobs, they could not carry over the sick leave credits, whereas someone who had gone directly from one board to another board without intervening employment, or even years later but without intervening employment, could carry over the sick leave credits.

Some boards have indicated that this will be an additional expenditure for them. We really don't know to what extent it would be, but it could be an additional expenditure if the board has retirement gratuities and if the conditions for retirement gratuities were to apply to such a teacher. Boards have different arrangements for retirement gratuities, so this doesn't necessarily mean that it applies in all cases.

Issue 23 removes the condition of mental illness as one of the conditions that automatically disqualifies a trustee. The Ontario Mental Health Foundation requested the repeal of this provision. It's the only single reason related to health that is mentioned as a disqualifier for trustees, and it doesn't seem appropriate. There is still the provision that trustees may not miss more than three consecutive meetings of the school board, so if a trustee is unable to carry on the duties for that reason, he would still be disqualified under those terms.

We've added, for your information, the provision in the current legislation and the reasons for the repeal, because the term "mentally ill" is difficult to define. Some trustees may be undergoing treatment but be perfectly able to function while they're undergoing treatment. Therefore, it didn't seem appropriate to have that condition.

Issue 24 deals with the appointment of supervisory officers by school boards with fewer than 2,000 pupils. Currently all school boards who have more than 2,000 pupils are required to appoint a supervisory officer but those who have fewer are not. This amendment permits those school boards also to appoint supervisory officers, and the amendments also provide that they may do so together with other school boards, in agreements with other small school boards or with minority- or majority-language sections of other school boards, so that they can be responsible for their own supervisory activities but they don't necessarily have to have a full-time supervisory officer for any one board. They can cooperate in that.

For those isolated school boards, the rather remote boards, the Ministry of Education and Training will still provide the supervisory officer services. They won't be required to do that.

Section 25 once again deals with one of the Municipal Affairs technical amendments which was missed. When in many cases the federal government provides payments in lieu of taxes, instead of taxes, for the department of defence property or for the armed forces bases, and in most cases school boards provide the education for these students, they should be able to share in the payments that the federal government makes to the municipality for that purpose.

Issue 26 deals with the special education advisory committees and the Ottawa-Carleton French-Language School Board. It is not specific in the Ottawa-Carleton French-Language School Board Act that each sector, the public sector and the Catholic sector, can have its own special education advisory committee. This clarifies that they can, and this is something that the board particularly has requested.

Section 27 also relates to the Ottawa-Carleton French-Language School Board. As you know, there is both a public and a Roman Catholic sector in that school board and this clarifies that for the purposes of municipal legislation respecting assessment, each section has the status of a board, so the Catholic sector is entitled to separate school taxes and the public sector is entitled to public school taxes.

The last technical amendment in issue 28 is to make it clear that the rates that are levied by a particular school board, if it's a public school board or a separate school board, only apply to property for which the owners have directed their support to the public school board or the separate school board.

So basically this is an overview of what's in the bill and of what we have provided for you in this book with regard to briefing materials.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you for your presentation. Does that complete the presentation, Mr Martin? So we're open for questions then?

Mr Charles Beer (York North): I know that we're going to be commenting and asking questions in this stage, and then we do have on our schedule our first witness, who will be coming forward later before we rise, so what I'd like to do in my remarks is just underline some of the major areas of difficulty that we have with this bill.

But before I do that, I would just like to begin by saying to the parliamentary assistant that we very much appreciate the background book. Certainly in my experience with various pieces of legislation, this is a very thorough one, and I just want to say that whatever issues we may have with the legislation, we appreciate the material that is in this book, or I guess "binder" is the more appropriate way to refer to it. I think there are some things in it as well that we'll want to look at as we go through the hearings and probably questions that will arise later either in clause-by-clause or with specific witnesses, but let me just say that at the outset.

I think it's awfully important to underline as we begin this bill that one of the difficulties that I think both opposition parties have is that this is an omnibus bill -- and again, this is not just done by your government; all governments have brought in omnibus bills -- so there are many parts of it with which we agree, but there are a number of major aspects of the bill that, quite frankly, we would prefer to have seen separated so that we could deal with those in a much more appropriate way.


I think it's for this reason that both the Liberals and the Conservatives have strongly urged that we have hearings into the summer to enable more groups to come and appear before the committee. So I want to make that comment at the outset, that I think there are difficulties at times with pieces of omnibus legislation, and I think some of the key issues that are in this bill reflect that.

That being said, I just want to underline three key areas of the bill that we are going to be both listening to witnesses on very carefully in their testimony and where we have some major issues, and those are three major ones: the sections that deal with junior kindergarten and how that is going to be implemented; the section that deals with the authority for school boards to operate day care centres under the Day Nurseries Act; and the provisions dealing with the hard to serve. Let me just come back and touch on each of those.

The first point, and I think one that to us is critical and a point that was made by a number of people in speaking on second reading of the bill, is that there are some new realities out there, some new financial realities for school boards. Over and above the difficulties that many boards noted they were having, particularly with respect to the implementation of junior kindergarten, but over and above those difficulties, with the expenditure cuts, with the proposed social contract -- while that particular set of negotiations has failed, the government is still saying those dollars must be found in terms of savings -- and through the budget, there is something in the order of $800 million to $900 million that in effect will be removed from the education system. I think it's something around $290 million under the expenditure control, about $535 million in terms of the wage rollback proposed under the social contract, and, from our own discussions with the various school board associations, something approaching $50 million when one looks at the budgetary impacts of the insurance rate changes.

As one then looks forward to how we are going to be able to take those dollars out of the system and still ensure that it can function, I think we really have to look at mandated programs and the priorities we have and how we see school boards being able to implement those specific programs. I say that in the full knowledge that it was our party, as government, that brought in junior kindergarten and a number of other programs. But clearly we are in a different period, so we have to look very, very carefully at to what extent the school boards, given the magnitude of these cutbacks, are in fact going to be able to deal with not just junior kindergarten in terms of the 18, 19 or 20 school boards but, more broadly speaking, all of the school boards out there, all of which are going to be under severe financial pressure. So we have a major concern around that and want to explore that more fully as we go through these hearings.

The second point I would want to make deals with the amendment regarding day nurseries and the authority for school boards to operate child care centres. Again, the issue here is not that there ought to be child care centres within schools; again that was something that we brought forward. But I think it is, what is the context within which this amendment has been brought? What is the context in terms of the government's future initiatives and programs with respect to the whole child care area?

A couple of weeks ago, with the Minister of Community and Social Services and with the Conservative critic for social services, the three of us were on a panel with the Association for Early Childhood Education, and there were a number of questions raised about just what this means in terms of the Ministry of Education's role overall in child care.

I understand the point that the parliamentary assistant made, that in some cases really all that one is after here is to allow school boards to be able to, by holding the license, ensure that child care is provided. But with the release of the so-called cabinet document on child care, and as yet no meaningful public debate in terms of just where this whole sector should go -- not just the age three to five but for those right from infancy -- there are questions, and I think very legitimate questions, about who ultimately is going to play the major role in providing for all of that child care. Is this an attempt through the back door to, in effect, make education the primary player? We have concerns about that, questions that we want to ask, witnesses who will be coming forward and questions to pose to the government, so we have a major concern around that issue.

With respect to the issue of hard-to-serve -- I use that as the jumping-off point because it really speaks to the whole issue of special education and the fact that these changes have been placed within this omnibus bill -- going back to the period when we were in government, I think there has now been an expectation for a number of years that substantive proposals for change would be brought forward in a unique act, a special-education act that would deal with a variety of issues which have been raised both by the ministry's own Advisory Council on Special Education as well as by a whole number of different groups out in the field who represent students with various exceptionalities.

So the question then is, what also is this part of? What changes is the ministry looking at? Is there going to be another piece of legislation that will deal with, for example, changes to the review process, the IPRC, as it's called, in terms of how that functions? Is the ministry going to be making changes by regulation or simply by directive?

If you go out and meet with people who have children with a variety of exceptionalities, there is real concern there about just what the direction is. In some cases there are those who are arguing strongly for full integration, others who want to see choice, but there's an uncertainty in terms of exactly where the government is going. There was a consultation process that was conducted in 1992. People would like to see that document made public.

So the questions around the issues that are raised in Bill 4 on children with either learning disabilities or developmental disabilities or the issue of hard-to-serve are just, again, where are we going? What's the vision? What's the direction? What else is going to happen and when, and how are we going to ensure that all those who are most directly affected by these changes will be involved? I think we need some answers to that, and I hope, as we go through the hearings -- in fact, I know from a number of the groups that are coming forward that they will be raising these issues. I hope we can get some more specific responses.

I have some other questions on specific areas, but I'd just like to make one final, general point and then allow my colleagues to make some comments.

Ce que je veux ajouter est au sujet de certains changements qui touchent la communauté francophone. Je pense que c'est très important, et on va le faire dans les changements proposés, que les sections françaises des conseils, soit publics ou séparés, vont avoir le même pouvoir que les conseils pour fournir des services pour les centres d'enfants dans les écoles.

Aussi, le fait qu'on reconnaît qu'on peut créer des comités spéciaux pour les jeunes avec des besoins différents, qu'en effet les deux conseils à Ottawa-Carleton peuvent tous les deux créer leur comité, je pense que ça c'est important aussi.

C'est sûr que, surtout pour la communauté francophone, l'école est vraiment un centre communautaire. Donc, je pense que c'est très important, en faisant des changements à la législation, que nous pourrons répondre à leurs besoins et je pense que ça fait du bon sens.

With those introductory remarks, I'll stop at this point and allow comments by my colleagues.


Mrs Dianne Cunningham (London North): Mr Chairman, I've waited, because I thought I'd put a couple of remarks on the record at the very beginning, if you don't mind, starting with the report of the subcommittee. I'll be very brief.

I object to the recommendation the way it's worded -- and I want to be on the record; I know my colleagues have already done this: "That the Chair of the committee be directed to write to the House leaders forthwith requesting authorization of committee meeting time on the evenings of Monday and Tuesday, June 14 and 15, from 7 to 10 pm." That, I think, is subject to the understanding that we were denied, by the majority of this standing committee, the opportunity for summer hearings.

I don't know about the other members of this committee, but I know that I certainly, in my critic portfolio, will not be available those evenings. The school communities, the colleges and universities, are extremely busy right now. Most of us have accepted public speaking engagements on into the end of June. I myself will be speaking at Ryerson one of those evenings, and I can't remember where else. I know that the school communities are equally busy right now. I think it's wrong for us to ask them, during the last few weeks of school, to make themselves available, not only the education staff but the parents. We are asking them to be involved in their school communities, whether we're looking at graduation exercises or their participation in sporting events or musical events or theatrical events or school shows.

I see no reason for the rush to finish the deliberations. I'm sorry that the government felt it necessary to put everything but the kitchen sink into a piece of legislation, which only makes myself and others, who understand the urgency around some of the issues that we heard about this afternoon -- we understand that, but to throw in three or four new issues that none of us has had an opportunity to research or for the public to even understand they are in here is inappropriate and it's not the way business ought to be done in this building. So I wanted that on the record.

The second complaint I have is that the minister isn't here. I thought that would be appropriate. I think all of us are in the business of learning. Our time is valuable. To listen to the questions of his colleagues in the government and the opposition members I think is extremely important. Some of us have been around a little bit longer than others and we still don't have the answers to these questions. They're very complicated.

I'm looking forward to asking questions. Because of the timing of what's happening here, Mr Chair -- and you can correct me if I'm wrong -- I would love to have asked questions around all of the briefing notes we heard on behalf of Ms Lindhout this afternoon, but I didn't think we would have the time to do that appropriately. So my feelings are that we're going to have to have time to ask those questions, and I don't think that should be when we have witnesses before the committee. We need time. There are a number of issues. Some of the technicalities I thought I understood and I think she did a good job of explaining, but I still had a lot of questions, and I've written them down, as I notice my colleagues were doing throughout that hearing.

I'll emphasize to you, Mr Chairman, and to the minister himself through the parliamentary assistant, that when I first came to this building some five years ago, I have to tell that most ministers came before important bills, explained themselves and the position of their government and listened carefully not only to the questions of the other elected representatives but to the witnesses. I have to tell you that I've sat on committees where that's almost been the practice, but certainly not in the last two years, for whatever that's worth.

My comments with regard to the legislation I think are well documented. On Wednesday and Thursday -- I don't know why they've got "Orders of the Day, Wednesday-Thursday, April 29"; I guess it was a long day; it probably went into the morning, but I don't recall -- there are a number of comments that I made. I'm not going to make them again, but they were made on April 29 in the House when the bill was first introduced, I believe.

With regard to my colleague the critic from the Liberal caucus today and his remarks, I'd only like to add that my understanding is that we are supposed to begin at 5 o'clock with another part of the agenda.

Mr Randy R. Hope (Chatham-Kent): Approximately.

Mrs Cunningham: I know it says approximately, but if I get into the issues right now, I think I wouldn't be doing the people I represent a service, so I'm going to ask you, when we do have the appropriate time, to do that. I know I have questions that will probably take us into, I'm guessing, an hour, and I think it's only fair that we ask them here in front of everyone else and get some clarification.

I'm going to leave that request with you, Mr Chairman. I don't think it would be news to you or anybody else to know that the whole issue of junior kindergarten and special education and child care in the schools is worthy of significant comment.

We certainly heard from the public in many regards with regard to these amendments, especially as they relate to special education, suspensions, child care in the schools, sick leave credits, junior kindergarten and child care. Then on the other ones, as you related earlier, Mr Chairman, that were truly technical, certainly the municipalities involved have been touch with us.

On that, I just say there's a lot of work to be done. We don't have enough time to do it as per the schedule that's been recommended. I don't intend to sit back quietly and watch this thing be rammed through, and I don't think it's appropriate for the government to disallow public hearings on an issue so important as early childhood education, child care and junior kindergarten. It's never been publicly discussed.

I do know that at the same time we have a commission that is supposed to be looking at issues in education that's been given 18 months to report, which is too long. If we're really serious about doing the right things in this province, we would coordinate some of the issues in this particular piece of legislation with those hearings and make a decision based on careful consideration, appropriate timing and a thorough investigation of the real problems that we face in Ontario today. I call them problems; I used to call them issues.

But I think the issue -- and to the parliamentary assistant, through you, Mr Chairman, I have to say that I concur with the observations he made with regard to the emphasis on early childhood education. I don't think any of us have had a good discussion on how this gets done, but piecemealing it and making policy statements in a bill of this Legislative Assembly, putting into law programs where there are no finances to support them or no support of the public because they've never been asked, and now that they are being asked, they're given four nights, is totally irresponsible.

I don't know how we're going to fit this in. I know the House leaders will be dealing with it this Thursday, but it's not our party's intent to go along with this.

Mr Bisson: I'd just like to make a couple of comments on behalf of the government in regard to some of the things that have been said by members of the opposition.

First of all, in reaction to the question about the minister not being here. I think as a member of the assembly and also as a member of the government, I have full confidence in the abilities of the parliamentary assistant. In our government, we have a valued role for parliamentary assistants. Maybe that was not the case when you were in government. I don't mean that in a belittling way.

Mrs Cunningham: I wasn't in government.

Mr Bisson: I have the floor.

Mrs Cunningham: I would have known about it if I had been.

Mr Bisson: But our parliamentary assistants are working in cooperation --

Mrs Cunningham: We wouldn't be sitting here talking about this stuff, I'll tell you.

Mr Bisson: -- side by side with the ministers in order to be able to deal with questions of ministries and how they're administered and how they deal with legislation and regulation. I have the utmost confidence in the parliamentary assistant from Sault Ste Marie, Mr Martin.

On the second question, with regard to the sense that the government is trying to ram through something that nobody's ever talked about before under this particular bill, I would point out to members of the opposition that the vast majority, of issues that are represented in this omnibus bill are issues that were recommendations on the part of other bodies, some of them committees of this government, some of them things that former governments have dealt with, as well as things boards have brought to the attention of the ministry.


Mrs Cunningham: Name one.

Mr Bisson: A good example would be the American sign language, the ASL, and LSQ issue. There's a committee that I chair on the French-language education side and that the parliamentary assistant chairs on the anglophone side. Recommendations that have been made for many --


Mr Bisson: Mr Speaker, do I have the floor?

The Vice-Chair: You have the floor.

Mr Bisson: Thank you very much. The point is that when you go through the various portions of this bill, this bill deals with issues that were raised by school boards across the province of Ontario that they wish the ministry to act on. For the most part, that's what these particular sections of the bill are about. As well, the bill also deals with recommendations from various provincial government committees that are dealing with very specific questions, and I raised the issue of ASL and LSQ as one. Is this something that's coming out of the blue? No.

I'll make the third point the last one. I really don't want to get into a political argument here, but there was an agreement of the subcommittee. The subcommittee came to an agreement about how this committee would deal with its business. The agreement of the subcommittee was that the opposition members wanted more time to be able to deal with the presentation of witnesses. The government said: "Fine. We'll move from four to six, but because there are a number of issues that we want to be able to move on, let's do those in the evening. Would you be amenable to that? It would be a way of accommodating the need of the opposition." The opposition agreed. That's what happened.

Mrs Cunningham: In the subcommittee.

Mr Bisson: Unfortunately, what happened is that the Tory position was flipped once it got to the House leader. Maybe I would ask that the Tory party organize itself a little bit better on subcommittee so that their member of the subcommittee can come into this committee with --

Mrs Cunningham: On a point of personal privilege, Mr Chairman: I'll speak to that in a moment, because both my colleague and I have discussed the difference of opinion. I'm sure the Liberals would feel the same way. The circumstances were totally different.

Mr Bisson: I still had the floor the last I checked, Mr Chair.

The Vice-Chair: Continue, please.

Mr Bisson: There's a point I'm trying to get at. I don't mean to get too strong of a term on this, but the members from the opposition use language very strongly around this building. That is a role of the opposition --

Mrs Cunningham: You don't, of course.

Mr Bisson: -- and what ends up happening is that they come into this committee and say that for some reason the government is trying to move something quickly.

I say again that the issues being raised, the 27 or 28 points in this particular bill, are issues that were raised by school boards with the Ministry of Education, that they want the ministry to move on. They're also recommendations on the part of provincial committees. It is not stuff that is coming out of the blue. These are issues that I think most of us would agree need to be dealt with. I would say that we need to move on and get on to this bill so that we can move on to others.

Mrs O'Neill: If I may just comment, first of all, I think it's extraordinary that we're having a set of hearings and there were more requests for time slots before we began than the time that's going to be allocated to this committee. I think that's fundamental. The interest is there and we haven't even had the ad response at this point.

To say that we concurred -- we lost a vote. We had to make a decision of the best of the worst-case scenarios, and our House leaders have not agreed. That's the way it works around here.

If I may ask my own questions, I just would like to go to section 11. I did ask this question earlier. Having more time to look at the notes, I wonder if I could have an answer in writing. This is a very fundamental question, certainly for our party and I think for all Ontarians, certainly boards that are not yet into the kindergarten.

There are three paragraphs there, the first one talking about the $54 million, which I mentioned. Now, $35 million should be left. I see as I read it that it says, "This is now part of the GLG base." Then I go on to see that there would be a requirement of $76 million to do what's needed and then I go on to read that the standard mill rate for all boards would have to be increased by 1.5%.

I guess what I want to know is, is this the policy? Is there going to be some centralized requirement that if boards opt in, all other boards have to pay? If I read this cold blank, that's what it says, and I would like to know where the money's going to come from and how it's going to be obtained to do this, especially when now it's going to be mandated and this bill says it's going to be mandated. I really think we have to have that answer in writing, so I would request that happen.

If I may go to the hard-to-serve, which is the next section, I have a discrepancy. Our research indicates there have been 12 pupils identified as hard to serve in the entire length of time that the term has been used. I think, if I read the first page here of the notes, it says six pupils have been identified as hard to serve. So could we have a clarification of that, please?

I'd also like to have a further clarification, if I may, also in writing, about this caveat that I discussed earlier about the medical, because I want to know -- on the first page of section 12, it states there are facilities other than schools where children may be identified, I presume through the IPRC system, that there are other settings: care and treatment facilities operated by Community and Social Services, provincial residential. Will those also be covered, or how will they be funded, especially the care and treatment facility operated by the Ministry of Community and Social Services? Will the service be guaranteed? We know the kinds of cutbacks that are being requested of the transfer agencies.

That concerns me quite a bit. Is it only if you go outside of Ontario that the caveat applies, medicine and education, or, I would presume, some of these particular provincial schools? Often care and treatment in an MCSS would have a medical component. So I'd like to have that clarified, please, and I think we need that kind of an answer also in writing.

My third and last question is on section 8, and maybe someone can answer this verbally right now. Currently, the Education Act permits English and French only to be used as languages of instruction. They are at this moment, and I hope will continue to be, English and French sign language. Is that correct? I want a definitive answer. That's very important.

Mr Martin: That's correct.

Mrs O'Neill: So that will continue to be recognized? It will still be taught in the faculties of education and there will be an option for American sign language? Okay. I think Hansard should note that the parliamentary assistant is nodding affirmative. Thank you.

The Vice-Chair: I believe he did say yes.

Mrs O'Neill: Okay.

The Vice-Chair: I know that it was recorded, so perhaps Mr Martin will respond to that so it will be recorded.

Mrs O'Neill: Thank you. The child care documents that are presented all seem to me to be those from our administration. Are they still the basis upon which boards and facilities agree? They have been maintained, is that correct? Okay. It seems to be another affirmative answer. Thank you very much, if I may just have those two in writing as soon as possible, and I will accept the verbal on the other two.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you. Is there anyone else before Mr Martin responds? No? Mr Martin.

Mr Martin: Just a couple of points and then I'm going to let the ministry respond to some of the questions.

To clarify re the subcommittee, if I might just very briefly, it was not ascertained at the subcommittee level that we didn't have enough spaces for the names on the list. However, we didn't think the list was complete either and it was my suggestion, and I think accepted, because it's in the report, that it would be good if possible to have another evening of hearings so that we could accommodate some of those people who wanted to come, given the short time lines. It's unfortunate that we can't do that, because I certainly wanted to, and the ministry wanted to, hear from as many people as could come and indicated that they wanted to come.

Also, just so that we can make it easier or more free-flowing here, I'm under the impression the process is that when our microphones are on and we're asked to respond, that's when we respond. Is that correct?

The Vice-Chair: That's my understanding, yes.

Mr Martin: Okay, and when other members are asking questions, we take them on record and then when it's our turn, we would --

The Vice-Chair: Yes.

Mr Martin: Okay.


Mrs O'Neill: Can we have a clarification of what the parliamentary assistant just said about the evenings? Did he say that we basically have presumed that it's not going to happen?

Mr Martin: I've heard from the Progressive Conservative member that she is feeling very strongly that the evening sessions are not something she can participate in and is going to be recommending to her House leader that this not in fact take place. Is that correct?

Mrs Cunningham: The fact is, we've all recommended that to the House leaders. We've all recommended that these hearings take place as required by the number of people who respond to the ads. It's the government that has demanded the schedule. We did not vote in favour of that schedule in committee. The purpose of sending it back to the subcommittee was clearly to schedule people within the government's mandate. We never agreed to evening hearings. We didn't in this committee. But in good faith, I think my colleague has already stated, we went to the subcommittee meeting to schedule the people who wanted to come before the committee, that was all, and they had to be scheduled in the evening.

I personally cannot be here. If the government is going to insist that we meet in the evenings and insist that we not hear from everybody -- the ad just appeared for the first time in the London Free Press today, and that means that people are going to have to get their briefs together and get themselves here. Those people who answered that ad won't even be considered, given the number of names we looked at the other day. What was the point of putting the ad in the paper? When I left the last meeting, I didn't even think we were going to advertise.

Mrs O'Neill: It's just for written requests.

Mrs Cunningham: For written requests. Fine. That's great. That's democracy, is it? That's this open government. This group promised, "We're going to have an open government and we're going to listen to the people," and then they get angry at me?


Mrs Cunningham: It's not rhetoric. If you ask people their opinions and you have public hearings, they should be able to come to the public hearings. There's no rush.

In response to the previous comments, "for the most part" was stated. You're absolutely right, for the most part, but there are two or three issues that don't meet that definition "for the most part" that people want to speak to us about.

All of you are receiving letters. I certainly read the one from the parliamentary assistant's constituent in Sault Ste Marie. You know who I'm talking about.

Mr Martin: She'll be here tomorrow.

Mrs Cunningham: That's lucky for her. Mine just saw the ad in the paper today. Lucky for her.

Mr Martin: You knew about this a long time ago, Dianne. You knew about these hearings. You knew this piece of legislation was coming forward. If you'd been as proactive as I was, you would have had your people here and presenting.

Mrs Cunningham: Mr Chairman, can I ask the parliamentary assistant a specific question? Can I therefore tell the people I met with on Thursday and Friday in my London office that they can come to these meetings even though they haven't been scheduled? Is that your direction to me?

Mr Martin: No, it's not.

Mrs Cunningham: Well, you said if I had been as proactive as you, I could get my people here.

Mr Martin: You're too late now.

Mrs Cunningham: I have been proactive.

The Vice-Chair: Sorry. We're into a conversation. Would you complete your comments and/or questions.

Mrs Cunningham: I'm too late. Too late for who, the government or the democratic process?

Mr Martin: Too late for the process, Dianne, yes, this process.

Mrs Cunningham: Too late for the democratic process as this government sees it, and don't back down on that one, because that's what it's all about. You may take your marching orders, but I wouldn't dare do that with a bill of this significance. And don't try to downplay it either. I'm very angry, and you can tell. The rest of you who can just go home and accept this, you're not doing the constituents or the parents of these children any justice. It is a political argument. It's also an argument of the process.

Mr Chairman, I want to put on the record that I don't think the solutions to the challenges we've got out there are political at all, but I do think that people have the right to come before this committee.

I don't want to be accused by anybody else on this committee saying that we changed our position. We have never changed our position. We were trying to be reasonable and work within the rules of the government, not the rules of this committee. Only the government members of the committee voted for this process.

No one in opposition agreed that we should stop these hearings in four days and evenings. We asked to go in the summer.

That is still an issue before the House leaders, and it may change. We will not withdraw it from the House leaders' agenda, because we are constantly getting more requests. My staff have just reminded me today, I've got two pages of requests. I'm sure the clerk's office will be getting them as well. You tell people they can only write letters, Mr Chairman, that's exactly what they'll do, because they have literally given up on the democratic process.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Beer and then Mr Martin.

Mr Beer: Briefly, I think that one has to understand the feelings with which our colleague from London North has expressed her viewpoint, because there mustn't be any misunderstanding. The clear preference that was expressed by the members of both opposition parties was that these hearings be conducted in the summer so that more individuals and groups could come before the committee.

The government moved a motion which said that we would only meet during this session. That they then voted on, and the opposition members did not support that motion, so in terms of discussing the hearings that are proposed during the month of June, it is, as my colleague from Ottawa-Rideau said, simply the only option or alternative that is on the table.

We continue to believe that there are some key issues in this bill that require a longer period of hearings, and as the member from London North has said, this is before the House leaders. Presumably they will be meeting on Thursday to discuss this. But I think we have to be very clear that the two opposition parties stated that they wanted hearings in the summer. The government said no, those hearings would be in June. They moved an amendment which they supported and we did not. I think that represents the facts of the issue and that needs to be made very clear.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Martin, would you care to respond quickly, and then we'll move on to the next item.

Mr Martin: Sure. I'd like to concur with Mr Beer's summation of what happened and add that, given that this is the process we have in place, we've all played on both sides of the table at some time or another. We did arrive, by vote of this committee, at a format, and then within that format we tried to find some room to accommodate some more people. I want it to be put on the record that it seems the opposition parties are not in agreement with allowing that extra night so that we could have more people appear, given the limitation to the time we have.

Mrs O'Neill: We have not said that.

Mrs Cunningham: I said I couldn't be there. I didn't say my party wouldn't be represented.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Martin, please continue.

Mrs O'Neill: He's repeating something that's not true.

Mrs Cunningham: It's the second time he's said that.

Mr Martin: If the member from London had been at the subcommittee, she could have at that time suggested that maybe the evening sitting wasn't appropriate because it's not convenient for her.

Mrs Cunningham: I had suggested it all along. You should have been at the standing committee meetings.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Martin has the floor. Please continue.

Mr Martin: At that subcommittee meeting, all members who were present at that time agreed that we would try to get that extra evening so that we could accommodate those extra people. We also all agreed that we would advertise for written submissions, given the time limitations, and that we did want to hear from people, at least in writing, re these important proposed pieces of legislation. Anyway, that's all I had to say.


The Vice-Chair: Thank you. We'll continue then and move on to item 4, a presentation from the Ministry of Education Advisory Council on Special Education. Would the representatives please come forward and introduce yourselves for Hansard, please. Welcome to the standing committee on social development regarding Bill 4, An Act to Amend certain Acts relating to Education.

Ms Eva Nichols: Thank you very much, Mr Chairman. My name is Eva Nichols and I chair the Ministry of Education Advisory Council on Special Education. In my other life I'm the executive director of the Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario. My colleague here is Margaret Walker and she is a member of council and is past-president of the Ontario Association for Bright Children.

We had a very short notice of this appearance, which is why there are only two of us here out of 21. We in fact did not have a chance to arrange for other members of council to be present, but I can assure you that the comments that we are about to make and the recommendations that you are being given, together with a list of the members of council, represent the work of this council.

Many of you, of course, are very well aware of our council and just what we are about, but in case some of you are not, I'd like to tell you that we are a group that is appointed by an order in council to advise the Minister of Education and ministry staff on all aspects of special education. There are 21 members of council and they represent all the various major stakeholder groups involved in education, and special education in particular: four trustee organizations, the Ontario Teachers' Federation, all kinds of supervisory officers, anglophone, francophone, Catholic, public and so on.


One particular important point that I want to make, because I read recently in a certain newspaper that the Minister of Education had expressed a concern about the fact that advisory groups do not have parent representation on them, is that in this council 25% of the membership represents parent associations. In fact, given that this is my second term for chairing this council representing a parent association, I certainly think we have good parent representation and parent involvement.

We tend to work on items by consensus. If necessary, we'll vote on things.

In terms of our mandate, and I do think this is important, it is regrettable that some of the components of this particular legislation were not discussed with us prior to them being tabled on April 21 in the House. Some components, of course, have been around for ever and a day, and I will comment on those as we go along, but I think there are a couple of issues here where it could have been a very useful way of resolving and alleviating some of the community concerns if in fact council had been able to advise the minister on just exactly what the issues are. If I may just for a second put on my other hat in terms of the learning disabilities association, I think all of you are aware, because I have corresponded with every single one of you on this issue, that the learning disabilities association has consistently opposed one section of this bill. We have had three meetings scheduled with different ministers of Education -- which so far have not taken place -- in the last two years, but we do have a meeting with the current minister next week where the number one item on the agenda is the hard-to-serve issue. I just hope that any comments we might make to the minister on June 17 might be of some value in terms of where exactly you as a committee are going to go with this and then where the Legislature goes.

Also on behalf of council I would like to urge you to hear from the various groups and organizations that have put forward a request to present to you. In many cases, parent organizations work very hard and very painstakingly to put together a presentation to a committee like this, and it isn't easy for them to do it, especially for parents who perhaps have difficulties with English or with just putting things together into a written brief; it is much harder than to appear in front of a group of people and engage in dialogue. On behalf of the council I would like to urge you to make sure that there are no families, no parents, no children and no parent organizations that feel that somehow they have not had an opportunity to provide input to these very important deliberations.

Our council met on May 28 and 29, and one of the things we dealt with was Bill 4. The parliamentary assistant who has responsibility for special education and the provincial schools, Gary Malkowski, was with us. He encouraged us to deal with Bill 4 in a particular way, and that seemed to suit us, so we basically focused on four components of the bill, simply because there wasn't enough time to deal with everything. However, it's important that you recognize that we do not think the others are not equally important, but we had a lot of items in front of us and those were the four things we could deal with.

First of all, we looked at the whole issue of American sign language and Quebec sign language as being the languages of instruction in Ontario. When the deaf education review was taking place, our council was involved in an advisory capacity, and we supported at that time the establishment of the pilot project that is going on at the moment at Ernest C. Drury School, the bilingual, bicultural program to replace the signing of exact English or exact French. We had the opportunity of visiting those programs and, based on what we had seen there, we decided to recommend to you that indeed we endorse the decision to make ASL and LSQ fully accepted as languages of instruction in Ontario.

If I may just sort of sidestep to the question that Mrs O'Neill asked, it was our understanding that the impact of this will be that as far as the provincial schools for the deaf are concerned at least, ASL will be the language of instruction and English will be used in terms of the written work and the reading that the children do but not in terms of language of communication. Perhaps we misunderstood that from Mr Malkowski, but perhaps that could be clarified, because I think that is a slightly different interpretation of the question Mrs O'Neill asked.

Our council has spent a great deal of time over this past year and a bit talking about equity and social justice. In particular, we spent a tremendous amount of time discussing and revising the ministry's proposed definition of integration. I know that's not in Bill 4; I'm only mentioning that because the following comments really do relate to that.

Back in January 1986, which was a long, long time ago, when there was a white paper in terms of amending the Education Act and, in particular, the special education components, council and most of the organizations that sat on the council then and now fully supported the decision to repeal all references to "trainable retarded" pupils in the Education Act and anywhere else. Frankly, we have been somewhat impatient about the fact that this has taken such a long time to occur.

I know some of you may say, "In that case, why didn't Bill 37 just go through as it was supposed to?" I will remind you that Bill 37 had the reference to hard-to-serve, and the reason why there was opposition to Bill 37 a year ago was because of the hard-to-serve component, not because anybody whomsoever was objecting to anything in terms of the trainable retarded. We feel very, very strongly that anything that relates to that needs to be redressed such that pupils who are currently identified as trainable retarded can in fact function as exceptional pupils in the same way as any other exceptional pupils in the province.

This brings us to the next section, which is subsection 15(1) of Bill 4, relating to hard-to-serve. Just as a little bit of history that may be of interest to you, in 1980, when Bill 82 was introduced, initially I think the intent was -- and if one reads the correspondence between Dr Bette Stephenson, who was then the Minister of Education, and parents' groups and so on, it was clear -- that hard-to-serve initially related to care and treatment issues. But the all-party-supported amendment put together by John Sweeney at that time really changed the ground rules, because it went from the pupil being unable to profit from instruction, period -- ie, a pupil whom we might describe as ineducable, however awful that term might sound -- and became a pupil who is unable to profit from the instruction offered by the board. That certainly narrowed the perimeters in such a way that we were no longer talking about a pupil who would not benefit from education at all, but a pupil who is not benefiting from the education offered by the board.

Perhaps it would have been useful if at that time the legislation had gone on to say that the board has an obligation to purchase for that particular pupil education elsewhere or to explore community resources or to refer to a provincial or demonstration school, but that did not happen.

I think the thrust to remove the hard-to-serve legislation first arose in 1986 when nobody had used it and I think that perhaps that was because people didn't fully understand just exactly what it was about.


There is no question that it has now been used and that the pupils who have been identified as hard to serve so far -- and it is our information that there have been 12, by a number of different boards -- in fact are not pupils who in all cases are in need of care and treatment but are in need of very specialized special education services which in most cases are not available at a particular board. In many cases, the pupils who end up being identified as hard to serve have been considered by and have been rejected for admission to demonstration schools on the grounds that their needs are so complex that they could not be programmed for in the demonstration schools or the provincial schools.

That really represents a very different profile than the pupils whose medical needs are so severe that they qualify for and need OHIP-insured services, which is what the particular section that enables the minister to arrange payment for the education of those pupils relates to.

Most of the pupils have been identified as hard to serve to the extent that we know they have had learning disabilities plus a number of other conditions, and I'm sure you all know that in fact the Ministry of Health basically does not recognize learning disabilities, and even attention deficit hyperactive disorder, which many of these children have, is not a truly recognized medical condition for which there are OHIP-insured services.

So, having considered all of that, council began by saying that we unanimously reject this particular section. We felt that simply to repeal it and to remove the kind of safety net that might be in place for families, for children and for school boards simply wasn't appropriate. While we understand the rationale that says school boards are responsible for special education, the very concern that I think has put this forward, which is that there are more families and more school boards looking for "hard to serve," is the result of the reduction of the availability of appropriate special education programs in self-contained programs everywhere.

I'm sure many of you know that the provincial and demonstration schools are currently under review. There is a proposal that we move from three anglophone provincial schools, three anglophone demonstration schools to one in each case, and inevitably, even if in fact the number of placements for exceptional pupils can be maintained when there is one school instead of three, the public message is still that we are shrinking the services. The thrust towards integration once again represents a way of reducing the range of placement that is available to parents and to exceptional pupils.

We understand the government's concern that section 35 of the Education Act might be used to exclude pupils who in fact can benefit from instruction, although we don't believe that this has happened. But if perhaps there is a lack of trust in school boards using this section appropriately, then it needs to be changed. So we, as a council, decided to take up the challenge that was offered to us, and since we met and during most of last Thursday night, we rewrote section 35.

I have provided to you the complete section 35 as rewritten, but I know there are time limitations so I'm not going to read all of it. But there are a couple of sections that I really want to focus on. I hope that when you are coming to look at possible amendments, you will look at it clause-by-clause.

It was very carefully crafted to really alleviate the concerns about inappropriate use and yet maintain a safety net for students who desperately need it. So we decided and unanimously agreed that the "hard to serve" designation should be changed and it should be described as "an exceptional pupil who, under this section is determined, due to the extent and nature of the identified exceptionality, to be not benefiting from the instruction offered by the board or available for purchase from another board or provided by an appropriate community agency such as a section 27 setting or a provincial or demonstration school."

Because we felt that you might want to know just what we meant by "benefit," we decided to define "benefit" as "the access of the pupil to appropriate special education programs and services that meet the needs of the exceptional pupil." I would remind you that subsection 8(3) of the Education Act currently lays out as one of the duties of the minister to ensure that indeed pupils benefit from special education programs and services as defined there.

The following sections have been rewritten basically to reflect that definition of "hard to serve," and in most cases, other than ensuring that the process reflects the court judgement in the Thompson case, for example, which stated that the way section 35 was originally written was not entirely appropriate, and making sure that in all cases there is reference to the pupil being able to make decisions and participating when that pupil is an adult, which was sometimes there and sometimes not there, and I don't know what determined it before but it should be consistent, the rest of the sections are very much as they were in the original act. We merely felt that there should be a much greater focus on the benefiting of the pupil from the instruction and that there should be some very definite statements about referral to provincial and demonstration schools and so on.

If you could please turn to page 5 of what has been circulated to you, we have recommended -- first of all, as far as the funding goes, we did not have time to focus on that and so we have not recommended a change. However, I don't think that that was the most important component from our point of view.

Secondly, we recommended, and that is point number 19, that "The determination by a school board that a pupil is a hard-to-serve pupil shall not be used to exclude a pupil from attending school." We felt that this was important if indeed the government had concerns that at some point this may be used as an exclusionary tactic.

Point 20 is: "It is intended that the application to have a pupil declared a hard-to-serve pupil shall occur after the due process of the IPRC and appeal of the IPRC determination have been used as legislated, in order to ensure the provision of appropriate special education programs and services for the exceptional pupil, and the school board has provided the necessary support services and appropriate accommodation to meet the pupil's identified strengths and needs."

The reason why we put that there is because we feel that indeed this should not occur right at the very beginning of the process and that school boards should be given the opportunity of meeting the needs of pupils and everybody should do their very best for the pupil. But there will still be some -- not many, but some -- pupils for whom there will have to be something else that simply isn't available in local school boards or even in the provincial or demonstration schools.

As far as section 15(2) of Bill 4, frankly, we were quite shocked to see the wording there, as a council. We felt that to make any such decision retroactive is a particularly unfair process in terms of families. When families had their children declared hard to serve between June 2, 1992, and now, they entered into an agreement with their local school board and the Ministry of Education in good faith that as long as it was appropriate for their children to be attending whatever facility had been agreed upon, that funding would be provided. To suggest that now that funding could stop and that in fact they may be asked to repay what has been paid from June 2, 1992, just seems a particularly difficult thing to do to families. In many cases, the kind of education that those children are receiving is very expensive, but that has been agreed upon not just by the parent but by the school board and the Ministry of Education as well. To suggest that parents should have to pay back what has been paid out and what they have accepted in good faith really seems quite unacceptable.

To bring this to a conclusion, there is no question that there is a great deal changing in the whole area of special education. Frankly, as a council, we are very concerned as to just exactly where special education is going to fit into the whole system that is being set up. Just this week we have received from Carola Lane, the assistant deputy minister for education programs and services, this document which is a revision of the Ministry of Education and Training.

I have read this and the words "special education" do not appear anywhere in them. It has not been considered by council because we did not have it in time, but I am sure that the members of council would be quite agreeable to my commenting that we are concerned because, even though there are references to equity and there are disability issues and there are learning outcomes and supported learning, the term "special education" has become synonymous with some of what is the very best in Ontario's education.


One of the things that our council talked about briefly at its last meeting was the fact that an outside group, "outside" inasmuch as it was outside of Ontario and outside of the educational system, looked at the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and what it guaranteed in terms of education for exceptional pupils. They came up with 10 points, such as the right to attend school and the right to an appropriate education and the right to due process and so on. Then they looked at each of the provincial and territorial education acts to see to what extent they met the requirements of the charter.

I guess the good news is that Ontario in fact came out on top in terms of meeting the requirements of the charter because we have such things as a range of special education placements and a great deal of involvement for parents. Many of the provinces that have already achieved some of what seems to be our current thrust in this province were viewed by these groups of human rights lawyers, constitutional experts and so on as being way down the scale of meeting the needs of children. As a council we feel that while education is not just about exceptional pupils -- there are only about 150,000 exceptional pupils in a total pupil population of about 1.8 million -- they are a very significant group of youngsters just the same.

We would ask you very sincerely to consider the needs of those pupils when you are deliberating this. We still feel that including the "hard to serve" section in your omnibus bill was perhaps not the most appropriate way to go. But if it has to be considered, please look at the recommendations we have put in front of you in terms of the clause-by-clause amendments and I think you might very well see that in fact those amendments meet the concerns you have and yet will still assure that exceptional pupils have appropriate special education programs and services available to them in Ontario.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you for your presentation. Ms Walker, did you wish to speak at this time?

Ms Margaret Walker: I'll answer any questions at this time.

The Vice-Chair: We thank you for your presentation. We realize that it is on very short notice that you are here. Questions? Mrs Cunningham?

Mrs Cunningham: No.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Beer.

Mr Beer: Thank you. I recognize the time frame, so I'll keep my questions short to allow others to ask questions as well. Let me, first of all, say welcome to the committee, and even though it was short notice, as always you have provided us with a great deal of food for thought.

I think I would want to say at the outset that in terms of the specific proposal you make to ensure that is discussed, we will bring that as an amendment to the bill. I would only hope that when you meet with the minister -- you'll be meeting with him before we do clause-by-clause -- perhaps you can persuade him of, if not this amendment, at least meeting the particular concerns you have. I think that would be acceptable to everyone. So we'll make sure that this is brought forward as an amendment to the bill.

I want to be clear, and I think just for everyone, in terms of understanding the need for this kind of change and for its protection, one of the questions that always comes up and is in the background material is that there aren't many people or many youngsters who have been identified as hard to serve. You mentioned in your remarks that the importance of this is, if you like, as a safety net and that without other kinds of protection, people in the various groups that make up your council just feel it is very important that if it's going to be removed, something else has to take its place. There has to be a process that is seen to be clear and fair.

Can you just elaborate a bit on that because I think some might argue, if there were only -- whether it was 6 or 12 -- aren't there other ways of dealing with this. But clearly, you feel no, this protection is essential even if it is only utilized on a few occasions.

Ms Nichols: I think the reason why we feel so strongly that you need to have this kind of a safety net is that in many cases the youngsters we are talking about here are the most vulnerable ones, the ones who have a complex set of difficulties. Our school boards in fact are quite capable of meeting the needs, especially when they do have a full range of placement options available, either provided or purchased, of the majority of exceptional pupils. I don't think that there is any question. Whether there is enough money and so on, that's a different issue, but that's not what this is about.

But there are just some youngsters whose needs are really extremely complex. It is their misfortune that in many cases they are bright, they are certainly capable of learning, but they need perhaps a one-to-one instructional mode or they perhaps even need two adults because of certain behavioural problems that they have. If you put that into context of the current economic reality -- I only had a very brief moment today to look at this new framework for the Child and Family Services Act that Mr Silipo has just sent out, but last week I was at the Ontario Association of Children's Mental Health Centres annual conference where they are talking about setting up something in terms of providing better education for the kinds of very, very needy children they are dealing with, the reality that the Ministry of Community and Social Services is pretty much unloading children until they are dangerous. A very sad comment that I heard, but parents were actually laughing at this in the kind of way that parents will sometimes laugh when things are not funny, "Maybe you better tell your child to set your house on fire, because then they are dangerous enough to get services."

Obviously that is not what anybody wants but I think that many of the children who are involved in the hard-to-serve process do have some needs which need to be met on a much more unusual basis than most of our school boards can do it. I think about two or three cases where I have been involved as an advocate in terms of hard-to-serve pupils, and indeed they have been the ones, for example, who have been in some cases suspended almost for a whole school year, the ones for whom you are saying, rightly so, that there should not be suspensions more than 20 days.

I can think of one particular young man who is indeed attending a very, very highly structured program at the moment at government expense, an educational program, who in fact had been suspended month after month, just coming back long enough to be back in so that he could be suspended again, and he had been in a treatment centre and he had been in a children's mental health centre. The school board, I think with genuine goodwill towards this youngster said: "We have tried everything that we know how. We cannot set up the kind of structured, one-to-one instruction program that this particular young man needs." It's that kind of a youngster that we can't afford to say: "Well, okay, we are meeting 99.9% of needs. The 0.1%, if they fall through the crack, if they fall off the end of the truck, it doesn't matter."

I know people always say that it is very dramatic to talk about what happens to youngsters like that, but I'm sure that you all have seen the statistics around adolescent suicide and adolescent mental health problems and adult mental health problems and you have certainly all seen the statistics around youngsters who don't get good special education and their involvement in the criminal justice system.

I would put it to you that whatever it costs the government of Ontario to pay for an appropriate education for such a youngster, it's cheaper than one year in prison, and I'm not trying to overstate the case because I think we know just exactly what the profile of people in prisons is today. I think that is the kind of situation that we can't afford.


Mr Beer: Just a second and last question, which relates to the context within which we are discussing these changes. I'd be interested in your understanding of what is yet to come in terms of special education changes, because there has been a lot of discussion that there would be another piece of legislation. There was the consultation document in I think 1992 which we haven't seen.

What is your sense of what is still to come? What concerns do you have about that in terms of other issues that have been raised around special education? I'm thinking of the IPRC process and other things. I think we need to know that or have some sense of it in dealing with these changes.

Ms Nichols: It is our understanding, and this is purely based on indirect information that we have received at the council and also individual groups that are represented on council, that a great deal of what is to come for the next little while at least will be done by regulation or by policy memoranda.

For example, I understand that either the back end of last week or this week there is a cabinet submission on the integration policy, the new definition of "integration," and the requirement that school boards in fact move towards a much greater integration of exceptional pupils than has been in place in the past.

It is true that the regulations are not changing and that regulation 305 still contains all the components of regulation 554 in terms of the IPRC process. In practice, what is in fact happening is that many school boards are saying, "That is what is in the regulations but what we have to do is quite different." That's point number one.

Number two is that certainly there is the whole review of the provincial and demonstration schools. I have not heard that there will be any legislative backup. It is more a sort of reorganization of process in terms of just exactly how many schools and whom they will serve and how they will serve exceptional pupils.

Certainly on December 10, 1992, Mr Silipo, who was then Minister of Education, met with our council and responded to our very strong urging around the IPRC process that indeed the IPRC monograph, which is the ministry's sort of informal backup to regulation 554 or 305, whichever way you want to look at it, should be sent out to school boards again prior to the beginning of the 1993-94 school year in order that they can be very clear-cut as to what their mandate is.

The staff of the special education and provincial schools branch, which is what is still in place, felt with quite a bit of justification that should be revised. One of the tasks in front of our council recently has been to revise that monograph. Our hope is to have it back to the ministry by the end of June so that indeed it can go out in September.

We have been told that the IPRC process in its current format will continue at least in the short term. The short term, in terms of work, has not been specified. What we are telling parents, as all the various groups that are involved, is that for the moment the legislation stands, and other than what is being looked at in terms of the hard to serve, the process of providing for exceptional pupils is not being changed in law. But what is actually happening within the school boards and within the classrooms is really very, very different.

I think the concern that we all have, every one of us who sits around that council table, whether we are trustees or whether we are superintendents or whether we are parents, is that there are more and more students who don't have access to a full range of special education options and that the narrower the available options are for a student, the less likely it is that a student with special needs, whether those are developmental disabilities or giftedness or anything else, will really be met appropriately.

Mrs Cunningham: Mr Chairman, I guess we've got five minutes or something. Is that how it works? First of all, as always, I'd like to thank you for coming before the committee. I'm disappointed you heard me ranting on about process, that the ministry itself wouldn't have met with you with regard to these amendments before tabling them. Sometimes we wonder why we give our valuable time as parents on advisory committees. I'm the mother of a disabled young man, so I know exactly what goes on in the system and have certainly been around during all the hearings on Bill 82.

I think we made major gains, but I think, if I can ask either of you, do you think that, this bill aside, we should be looking together at how we can meet these special needs, either within the Ministry of Education and Training solely or with the Ministry of Community and Social Services programs?

The statement that you made with regard to early intervention is extremely important. If we could start all over, how should we be doing this? Is it still correct to stay within the school system with the special education advisory committees, which are functioning in some boards better than others, which we should have some discussions about, and the IPRCs, which again are functioning in some boards better than others? Where do we deal with this, I think, challenging problem of trying to place our young people, either within school systems or outside of school systems? Where do we start, now that we've got some precedent to work on?

Ms Walker: I guess I've always felt that out of Bill 82, the two most important parts were the parental involvement in the IPRC and the parent association involvement in these special education advisory committees. I really do believe, and certainly this government has been talking a great deal in terms of partnerships, partnerships with parents and with the community in education, and I believe that still is going to be the main focus that we have to do.

But we have for so many years been talking about interministerial workings together, not only Community and Social Services but Health and many of the other ministries working together with Education so that all of the support services are there. I recollect a number of studies that have come out and reports that we have all responded to over the years in terms of how we should be working together, and it's always very disappointing when we seem to respond and there's nothing more that comes forward.

Maybe it would be nice to say we could start again, but we can't. We have to carry on from where we are. So we will need to have really very specific partnerships amongst ourselves as parents and as educators, but we have to have a much broader group of people in that partnership, and they will continue to be in Health and Community and Social Services and all of those other agencies out there that can support our children. But it takes a lot of dialogue. It certainly takes a lot of time to discuss and to do this correctly.

I guess, going back to Mr Beer's comment around the hard-to-serve and not many numbers, it probably is a response and a reaction to many of our parent associations, because as parent associations we don't go lightly into asking parents to go and ask for more support and services for their students within the school board. We talk to them about what's been tried. How many times have they talked to people? We don't do it lightly.

When we're talking about these hard-to-serve children and these other ones that we need the interministerial work to go around that together, we've done a lot of work with the parents prior to that, and with the boards of education and with all of the other support services throughout. It's dialogue, it's discussion, it's knowing where else to go, and when we begin to cut off and make things so very restrictive, then our children will suffer; and when we're not talking about children in education, we've missed the boat.

Mrs Cunningham: Is your hope then to deal with your amendments in the context of the program in the schools with the minister? Is this what your plan is?

Ms Walker: In which, the hard-to-serve?

Mrs Cunningham: Well, yes, the revisions of section 35. Is this what you're going to be discussing with the minister?

Ms Nichols: The meeting will be with the learning disabilities association rather than the advisory council, and the issues that are on the agenda for discussion are the hard-to-serve and what is going to happen with that and the proposed integration policy and just generally, where are we going with special education in this province?

One of the things that we will certainly be addressing, and it's already in direct response to what you were asking, Ms Cunningham, is the whole issue of prevention. There have been some very good documents that have come out from the Ministry of Community and Social Services in some past years around children first and investing in children and so on that put forward a very good model for primary, secondary and tertiary prevention. I'm truly disappointed that it seems that we are saying that, because of the current fiscal circumstances we find ourselves in, prevention is not going to be as important as crisis intervention.

Obviously, if you have to choose, you deal with crises. That is obvious. But I think that in the long run, as a society, if we can't ensure that we maintain a preventive mode for vulnerable children, then the kind of sort of legacy that we leave to our children -- and I know this sounds very poetic -- is really going to be a lot less effective and less appropriate than we might have wanted to do otherwise.

Mrs Cunningham: Don't you find it interesting that we're looking at a commission on education, asking parents and the province in general to respond, and at the same time we're dealing, in a separate piece of legislation, with regard to this whole issue of special education dealing with hard-to-serve pupils in isolation from each other?

Ms Nichols: Certainly we as a council and at the learning disabilities association as well have repeatedly asked that the hard-to-serve piece of legislation should be considered together with any reviews of the IPRC appeal tribunal process, because we believe that's where it belongs. It is also a continuum where you do as little intrusive intervention as you possibly can at the beginning and then you end at the very end with the hard-to-serve for those very few who really don't benefit from anything else. But it just seemed that wasn't to happen.

We certainly had met with ministry staff on several occasions, asking if they would please take that section out from 37 initially and then from the omnibus bill, because I think that many of the concerns that you will hear from people who will come after us in these witness chairs will relate to that. Because there are many parents -- not in the total scheme of things, but a number of parents -- who are very concerned because they feel that if a system which has been built up so that it can be so good as our special education can be dismantled bit by bit and some of it made retroactive, then where do they have their faith in the system? I think that should be a concern to all of you who are members of the Legislature, that people should have faith in the system that is available to them.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Bisson?

Mr Bisson: Unfortunately, there's not enough time. We're past 6 of the clock.

The Vice-Chair: Did you wish to speak, Mr Martin?

Mr Martin: I just had a couple of things. Usually in the committee, when we have a shortage of time we try to spread it out so that each caucus gets a chance to ask a question.

The only comment I would make is that I appreciated all of the information that you gave us and the challenge that you put in front of us and certainly agree with you that prevention is very, very important. That's why we're putting so much emphasis on JK and child care in the things that we're doing at this point in time, because we see it as key to any prevention program down the line. That was all I wanted to say and to thank you.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you for your presentation. The committee is adjourned.

The committee adjourned at 1804.