Joel Harden MPP / Député, Ottawa Centre

Government of Ontario

Ford’s lack of funding leaves deaf child in Ottawa without classroom interpreter

Published on September 14, 2020

Ford’s lack of funding leaves deaf child in Ottawa without classroom interpreter

QUEEN’S PARK – MPP Joel Harden (Ottawa Centre), the NDP’s critic for Accessibility and Persons with Disabilities, said Doug Ford’s refusal to invest in kids with disabilities, has left a deaf child in Ottawa without a sign language interpreter he needs to understand lessons in class.

“As kids in many Ottawa schools are headed back to class today, I’m thinking a lot about kids with disabilities and their families,” said Harden.  “Like Megan Leslie, a proud mom of a deaf son in elementary school, who is beside herself right now given a lack of access to American Sign Language interpreters.

“For months, grassroots disability leaders have insisted this government do more. Now we have a situation where a deaf child in Ottawa doesn’t know if he will even understand what’s happening in his class.”

Harden directed his questions to the minister of education and said that this pandemic has been particularly challenging for Megan’s son and 340,000 other special education students in Ontario. 

“Instead of giving students with disabilities the resources they need, the Ford government is allocating a paltry $70 per student to adjust to the COVID response in Ontario schools,” said Harden.

“Can the minister explain to Megan why he believes $70 is enough to support her son’s learning needs?”

Harden called on Ford to provide the support children with disabilities need at school to be able to participate in the classroom. That includes ASL interpretation, and educational assistants to help autistic students, dyslexic students, Down Syndrome students, or students with pronounced social anxiety. 

“We need strong provincial funding and a plan to accommodate these students, and so far, this government has failed them,” said Harden.