July 8th, 2020

Ford government must stop treating students with disabilities as an afterthought: NDP

Ottawa Centre MPP urges Ford to release plan for students with disabilities as schools reopen

OTTAWA — Ottawa Centre MPP and NDP critic for Accessibility and Persons with Disabilities Joel Harden called on Doug Ford to release a concrete plan to ensure that the learning needs of students with disabilities are supported when school reopens this fall.

“COVID-19 has hit people with disabilities particularly hard in many ways, including the move to distance learning, as online platforms aren’t always accessible,” Harden said in question period Wednesday. “Without new supports, there’s a real risk that students who have already been struggling will fall even further behind when schools reopen.”

The Ford government has failed to come up with a plan to address the unique needs of students with disabilities and their families in the transition to schools' reopening.

Harden urged Premier Doug Ford to take up the recommendations put forth by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance on supporting the learning needs of students with disabilities. The recommendations are supported by 10 disability rights groups and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF), and include ideas to ensure all course content is accessible, as well as planning for students unable to consistently socially distance.

"There's no need to reinvent the wheel," Harden said. "Grassroots disability rights leaders and experts have already done the work."

Harden said the Ford government must stop treating the 300,000 students with disabilities in Ontario as an afterthought, and release a plan to support them.