For persons with disabilities in Canada, education is not always an open door: CHRC report

March 9, 2017 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Human Rights Commission

People with disabilities in Canada are facing overwhelming barriers and challenges within our schools, says Canada’s human rights watchdog in a new study released today. In a report, entitled “Left Out: The treatment of persons with disabilities in Canada’s education system,” the Canadian Human Rights Commission finds that persons with disabilities in Canada are not receiving the quality education they need to later thrive and succeed in the workforce.

Discrimination and the exclusion of persons with disabilities in employment has long been recognized as some of the most prevalent human rights issues in Canada. But what makes an already bad situation worse is that for persons with disabilities the odds are often already against them because of the barriers they face in school.

“Education is supposed to open doors for people, not shut them out,” said Chief Commissioner, Marie-Claude Landry. “How can we expect persons with disabilities to thrive and succeed in our workforce if we don’t first give them the quality of education they are entitled to?”  

The Commission’s report highlights barriers and key issues facing students with disabilities, including a lack of disability accommodation and support, a lack of services and funding, as well as widespread bullying and exclusion. For people with disabilities living in remote areas or on First Nations reserves, the situation is even worse. They face the same barriers but with additional ones including a lack of special education and ineffective dispute resolution mechanisms. 

“In my recent travels to the Northwest Territories and the Yukon, I have seen firsthand the reality students with disabilities are facing,” said Chief Commissioner Landry. “In remote northern communities, a person with a disability may not even have the option to attend school. The support is simply not there. We can and must do better for this and future generations of Canadians with disabilities, both in remote communities and in our cities too.”   

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Quick Facts

According to the 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability:

  • Bullying: More than one quarter of persons with disabilities report being bullied at school because of their disability.
  • Exclusion: 35% of persons with disabilities in Canada report being avoided or excluded at school because of their disability.
  • Taking fewer courses: 37% of persons with disabilities in Canada report taking fewer courses because of their disability. 
  • Quitting: 11% of students with disabilities report ending their education early because of their disability.

Quotes

“Education is supposed to open doors for people, not shut them out. How can we expect persons with disabilities to thrive and succeed in our workforce if we don’t first give them the quality of education they are entitled to?”  

Marie-Claude Landry, Ad. E., Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission

“In my recent travels to the Northwest Territories and the Yukon, I have seen firsthand the reality students with disabilities are facing. In remote northern communities, a person with a disability may not even have the option to attend school. The support is simply not there. We can and must do better for this and future generations of Canadians with disabilities, both in remote communities and in our cities too.”   

Marie-Claude Landry, Ad. E., Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission

Associated Links

Today’s report: Left Out: Challenges faced by persons with disabilities in Canada’s schools – Monitoring the Implementation of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Canada

2015 CHRC report: The Rights of Persons with Disabilities to Equality and Non-Discrimination –Monitoring the Implementation of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Canada

2012 CHRC report: Report on Equality Rights of People with Disabilities

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