• By: OLM Staff

OSSTF Calls out Ford Government—Says They Must Prioritize the Needs of Students With Disabilities

Ontario’s Secondary School Teachers’ Federation addresses Ford Cuts

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF/FEESO) held a press conference in Toronto to draw attention to the Ford government’s funding cuts to provincial schools that offer specialized programming for students with disabilities. The cuts have led to underfunding, reduced resources, and staffing layoffs, resulting in deteriorating school conditions and limited access to essential services.

OSSTF/FEESO President Karen Littlewood says, “The pleas of students with disabilities attending Ontario’s specialized provincial schools continue to be ignored by the Ford government. The government’s pattern of slashing and shifting education affects not only programs for special needs students but also education policies, such as mandatory e-learning courses, which critics argue disproportionately impact vulnerable students and worsen existing inequalities in the education system. Littlewood added “These publicly funded schools, their students, and the families they serve are being pushed to the brink . . . Premier Ford and Minister Lecce have left families grappling with uncertainty about their student’s well-being and future.”

Ottawa West-Nepean MPP and official Education Critic Chandra Pasma has taken things a step further and is calling for the auditor general to investigate the impact on deaf, hard of hearing, blind, low vision, deaf-blind, and learning-disabled students in Ontario’s provincial schools. As the Education Critic for the NDP, Pasma is tasked with holding the government accountable for its education policies and actions. She works closely with education stakeholders, including teachers’ unions, advocacy groups, and parents, to address issues.

OSSTF/FEESO District 30 Provincial Schools Authority Teachers (PSAT) President Tamara Witcher said there is an urgent need for increased course options for disabled students, more American Sign Language (ASL) proficient staff, teachers with deaf-blind qualifications, enhanced mental health supports, and funding for school renovations.

“It is clear that Premier Ford does not live up to his word. When he says he is committed to funding and supporting students, that he wants to make sure students are ready to take on the jobs of the future, that they are prepared to find rewarding careers, his word clearly doesn’t apply to these students, our students,” said Witcher.

Without the delivery of programming and the infrastructure upgrades, Witcher says it is “A grim future for the students and families accessing these specialized programs.”

OSSTF/FEESO District 30 Officer David Sykes questioned why teachers must plead for the support needed to provide students with the programs and services they deserve.

Header image: (Left to Right) Karen Littlewood, Chandra Pasma, a concerned parent, David Sykes, and Tamara Witcher. 


OSSTF/FEESO represents approximately 170 PSAT teachers at four school sites across the province and advocates for improved working and learning conditions in collaboration with education and parent partners.

Established in 1919, OSSTF/FEESO boasts over 60,000 members across Ontario, encompassing various roles within the education sector. These roles include public high school teachers, occasional teachers, educational assistants, and more.