The following is the text of a news release issued by ETFO.
Toronto, ON – Today’s announcement by the Conservative government is simply putting off the crisis it has created for children with autism by six months, according to the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO).
“Children over age five will still only get $5,000 per year compared to the $50,000-100,000 or more that is needed for therapy,” said ETFO President Sam Hammond. “All the government has done is extended the current therapy that these children receive for another six months before it is cut”.
“Last week, the Ontario government admitted that these families will have no choice but to send thousands of children with autism into schools where class sizes have just been raised. The government provided no additional support to school boards to handle this downloading of its obligation to support these children.”
“The same crisis for school boards and educators will exist in six months if the government does not reconsider providing additional support and front-line resources.”
ETFO is part of a growing coalition of parents, educators, front-line workers, education stakeholders and concerned residents in Ontario calling on the government to rethink its rash decision-making and put the needs of children with autism first. Given the concerted push-back from caring parents and others, the government has clearly recognized that it needs to address the crisis it has created.
“It’s not enough. Putting a temporary band aid on a bad plan is not going to fix the problem,” added Hammond.
ETFO has been clear that the current education funding formula for Special Education is totally inadequate and is based on a mathematical model that has no relation to the actual needs of students. It requires an independent external review.
ETFO represents 83,000 elementary public school teachers, occasional teachers and education professionals across the province. Its Building Better Schools education agenda can be viewed at BuildingBetterSchools.ca.