J & J's Gibberish J & J's Gibberish: Special Needs Get a Nod from Queen’s Park

J & J's Gibberish: Special Needs Get a Nod from Queen’s Park

J & J's Gibberish: Special Needs Get a Nod from Queen’s Park

Photo credit: Pixabay

In case you missed it, on March 26th Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced an investment of more than $300 million to will help children with special education needs.

The funding will add more education workers and specialized support staff to classrooms, and will work to eliminate the wait list to have a child's special education needs assessed.

This can be very helpful because right now, if your family is not in a position to wait, you have to go private for an assessment. That is not cheap. My family just dropped over $2000 to get our assessment done for Jacob so it could be done quickly and by a doctor familiar with Jacob’s unique challenges. So this announcement is good news.  

In total, Ontario will add about 2,000 new teachers and education workers, including:

  • Educational assistants (EAs) to support students with exceptionally high needs
  • Specialists, including social workers, psychologists, behavioural specialists and speech language pathologists to support boards in expanding special education programs and services -- ultimately benefitting all students
  • Increasing the number of guidance and other teachers in elementary schools to better prepare students for a successful transition to high school, and to help Grade 7 and 8 students take their first steps in career planning.
  • About 400 new mental health workers over the next two years, to ensure every high school student will have access to mental health supports at school.

This all looks great.  It really does. How it all shakes out remains to be seen though because it is dependent on her re-election, and that is not a sure thing.

That got me thinking about provincial politics and how the results in June may affect all of us who depend on specialized services.  I think it will be important going into an election campaign for everyone to get educated on where the different parties stand on critical issues such as these for families.  When I look at my monthly pharma bill for my son, it dropped from $650 a month to $350 (not all meds are covered), what will happen to that? Will the other parties keep it?  What about the autism programs?  Will they be sacrificed on the altar of election cost-cutting promises?  What about local community centres?  Youth programs? Seniors programs?

Wynne’s promise of free daycare for preschoolers is another welcomed announcement that will provide relief and support for families.  But that too will only happen if Wynne is re-elected.

It is easy to become disengaged during the campaign season and to write everyone off  telling ourselves that “politics is just a game” and it doesn’t matter who actually wins.   The reality is this election will have huge ramifications for all Ontario families.

Just get engaged, get educated and make an informed decision on election.

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