August 23, 2016
Yet another major voice has joined our call for the Wynne Government to agree to develop an Education Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. On August 10, 2016, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario wrote Ontario’s new Accessibility Minister, Tracy MacCharles, to support our request that the Ontario Government create an Education Accessibility Standard. This new accessibility standard is needed to tear down the many barriers that impede students with disabilities in Ontario’s education system.
We set out the CUPE Ontario letter below. This letter describes the many people working in Ontario’s education system that CUPE Ontario represents:
“The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario represents more than 55,000 education assistants, school library workers, administrative assistants, custodians and tradespeople, early childhood educators, instructors, nutrition service workers, school safety monitors and social workers in schools and board offices of Ontario’s public, Catholic, English and French boards. We also represent more than 30,000 workers in academic and support roles at Ontario universities, including people in security, parking, skilled trades, clerical and administrative positions, caretaking, food services, groundskeeping, research, technical and library workers, sessional instructors, teaching assistants and post-doctoral students.
Our members work on the front lines of education and see firsthand the disparity students with disabilities face within our education system.”
The AODA Alliance has been pressing the Ontario Government for over half a decade to agree to create an Education Accessibility Standard under the AODA. Some 13 years ago, the Ontario Human Rights Commission amply documented that Ontario’s education system is replete with barriers that impede students with disabilities. To read the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s 2003 report entitled “The opportunity to succeed: Achieving barrier-free education for students with disabilities,”.
Now there are some 334,000 students with special education needs in Ontario’s public and Catholic schools. Even more students with disabilities are in Ontario’s colleges and universities, or would like to be. They continue to face too many recurring barriers.
At the present rate, Ontario’s education system will not become fully accessible to people with disabilities by 2025, the AODA’s deadline. To date, the Wynne Government has never agreed to create an Education Accessibility Standard. It is still under study within the Ontario Government.
We thank CUPE Ontario for adding its voice to the call for the Wynne Government to develop a much-needed Education Accessibility Standard. The Government has already heard the same message from other major organizations that speak for a great many of those who work on the front lines of Ontario’s education system, including the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations OCUFA, the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario ETFO, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation OSSTF, and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association OECTA. Those who work on the front-lines of Ontario’s education system are in a great position to know how much Ontario needs an Education Accessibility Standard.
Days ago, we learned that the Government had hired the KPMG firm to review barriers in Ontario’s education system. We have asked the Government to release the 2015 KPMG report that it received on this topic. We have not yet received that report from the Government.
We encourage you to contact your member of the Ontario Legislature. Ask them to press the Wynne Government to agree to develop an Education Accessibility Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. For your MPP to get more background on this issue, urge him or her to watch the captioned interview which AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky gave earlier this year on The Agenda with Steve Paikin, on the barriers that students with disabilities face in the school system, and the need for Ontario to create an Education Accessibility Standard.
Help us get other organizations to endorse our call for the Government to develop a much-needed Education Accessibility Standard.
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