Funding Cuts to Hearing Impaired Schools

January 2020.

States and provinces need to forget about ever trying to cut funding to schools for the hearing impaired, people suffering from hearing loss, the deaf, and the learning impaired. The funding really should just be enshrined and guaranteed, forever.

Back in 2016 the provincial government of Ontario tried to cut funding to such schools during the 2016-2017 school year and faced a huge backlash from parents and administrators. Ontario is not alone in this mentality either. There are many states and provinces across the USA and Canada who have given thought to cutting funding to similar programs in their home state or province, some even succeeding despite a backlash.

In 2016 the Ontario government tried to do it and failed. The provincial schools serving deaf/hearing impaired students and those with severe learning disabilities remained open for the 2016-17 school year, with the government backpedaling on their plans to cut funding and close a few of the special schools. Despite the change parents and students still showed up to protest at the Ontario legislature to prove a point: This topic was off limits.

The rally of people that showed up to the protest drew supporters from all across Ontario, a region of Canada covering 1.076 million km², which is three times the size of Germany.

Two years later the then Liberal government of Ontario was kicked out of power. But this isn't about political parties, as the new Conservative Party, led by Doug Ford, went ahead and did the funding cuts to the same programs anyway in December 2018 - despite the backlach, despite lawsuits.

So where the Liberals tried and failed to cut funding to these special schools for children with hearing loss and learning impairment, the Conservatives went ahead and did it anyway. They have not yet closed down the schools, but that plan remains part of Doug Ford's plan to reduce funding costs.

So much for the topic being off limits.

The problem here is that this is a health issue, an education issue, and a human rights issue. Canadians have the right to an education, regardless of whether they suffer from any kind of health problem or learning disability. Normal schools are often not equipped to help students with hearing or learning impairment.

Parents of the affected children need to be organizing themselves if they are to protect the funding to their schools. They need to be launching lawsuits. They need to be protesting. They need to stand up for their rights.

Every parent with an affected child should lodge a human rights complaint of discrimination against the Ontario Minstry of Education “based on the fact that these children have classified learning disabilities” and closing the schools “without any concrete process for educating them in the future” is an injustice.

The school closures the Liberals targeted in 2016 were: Trillium, Amethyst Demonstration school in London, Sagonaska Demonstration School in Belleville, Centre Jules-Léger in Ottawa and Robarts School for the Deaf in London.

So it should not be a surprise if the new government targets the safe schools for closure. The parents of the students at those schools should be concerned and they should be organizing.

Closing the schools, according to Conservative government, would save $100 million.

Back in 2016 Progressive Conservative MPP Todd Smith (Prince Edward-Hastings) said the “desperate” Liberals had to act because “these are programs that work.”

“These schools do change lives and at the end of the day they save the government money at the same time,” said MPP Todd Smith at the time, noting those who have graduated are less of a strain on the social safety net (which in turn saves Ontario money in the long run).

But now that PC government is in power his past comments now seem hypocritical. The funding to the same programs he praised four years ago got cut in December 2018.

The schools effected are now on the chopping block, waiting to be axed.

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