Ontario Supporting Students with Special Needs

Proposed Legislation Would Provide Consistent, Fair and Transparent Access to Service Animals in Schools

October 31, 2018

 

Elgin-Middlesex-London – Yesterday, Ontario’s Government for the People announced its proposed legislative amendment, which, if passed, would support students and their families when making requests to bring service animals into schools and classrooms in Elgin-Middlesex-London and across the province. Only 39 of 72 school boards across Ontario currently have policies in place to address the need for service animals in schools, leaving students vulnerable and parents facing challenges to support their child’s special needs.

The proposed amendment would provide guidance on service animals to school boards when developing their own policies to ensure families of students with special needs experience a fair and transparent process when requesting that their children be able to bring a service animal to school.

“Our Government is committed to ensuring students across Ontario are learning in safe and supportive environments. Students who benefit from service animals need a government to support them and help establish clear rules and policies and that’s what we’re going to do,” said Jeff Yurek, MPP. “I know that this is important to many families in Elgin-Middlesex-London and am glad that the need is finally being addressed.”

“Families of students with special needs deserve a clear and transparent process for requesting that service animals be able to accompany their children, no matter where they live,” said Lisa Thompson, Minister of Education. “Every family in this province should feel supported when it comes to ensuring their child has access to a meaningful education.”

If this legislation is approved, all members of the public — including families, education partners, advocacy groups and community agencies — will have the opportunity to provide input on the policy directive that would be issued to boards.