4. Context for the Inquiry

WARNING: This section deals with topics that may cause trauma to some readers. It includes references to bullying, emotional and physical abuse, mental health challenges, self-harm and suicide. Please engage in self-care as you read this material. There are many resources available if you require additional support, including on the OHRC website, under List of supports under List of supports.


What are reading disabilities?

Reading is a fundamental skill that students must have to navigate their school experience and their later lives. Our public schools should be able to teach students to read. Yet, this may not be the reality for students with reading disabilities and others.

Reading is a complex cognitive skill. While good readers seem to read effortlessly, to get to that point, they must first learn how to decode the words on the page.[30] This means they must learn to turn written words into corresponding spoken words. The process of learning to decode our alphabetic system requires both knowledge of letter-sound relationships, and an ability to apply that knowledge, blending the individual sounds together, to successfully identify written words. It is this process that allows the child to then make meaning from the written words. Over time, with lots of practice at deliberately decoding words, the process becomes quicker and eventually, automatic. Once a reader can decode, fluency (reading accurately and quickly) will follow.[31] Vocabulary (knowing what individual words mean), language comprehension and reading comprehension (understanding and interpreting what has been read) are also critical aspects of reading development.

A reading disability, formally known as a specific learning disorder with impairment in reading,[32] is a type of learning disability[33] that affects one or more of these skills. A reading disability can range from mild, to moderate, to severe. Reading disabilities are due to differences in the way the brain processes specific types of information, and are not a sign of lower intelligence or unwillingness to learn.[34]

Dyslexia or a reading disability in word reading is a specific learning disability characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word reading and/or poor decoding and spelling abilities. These word-reading difficulties may also result in problems with reading comprehension and can limit learning vocabulary and background knowledge from reading.[35]

Although dyslexia is assumed to be neurobiological in origin, there is evidence that with early identification, evidence-based reading instruction and early evidence-based reading intervention, at-risk students will not develop a “disability.” If the education system is working as it should, a reading disability can be prevented for almost all students.

According to the DSM-5, “Dyslexia is an alternative term used to refer to a pattern of learning difficulties characterized by problems with accurate or fluent word recognition and/or poor decoding, and poor spelling abilities.”[36]

In practical terms, people with a word-reading disability/dyslexia may experience problems with:

  • Learning letters and the sounds they represent
  • Blending sounds to make words
  • Reading quickly enough to understand
  • Spelling
  • Keeping up with and understanding longer reading assignments.

Despite this, people with learning disabilities and reading disabilities may have unique skills, strengths and talents, just as in the larger population.[37] Learning disabilities do not need to be impairments to life-long success. Many entertainers, designers, architects, writers, athletes, jurists, physicians, scientists, political and business leaders have self-identified as having dyslexia or another learning disability.

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Word-reading, spelling, phonological and fluency skills exist on a continuum, with no clear-cut off point for a diagnosis of a reading disability.[38] The prevalence of reading disabilities has been estimated to be about 5–10% of the population.[39] However, many more children in Kindergarten and Grade 1 are at risk for reading disabilities (about 25%),[40] and without evidence-based instruction in these grades, many more children will meet diagnostic criteria for a reading disability.[41]

Reading disabilities are the most common childhood learning disability.[42] They affect all genders, ethnic, racial and socio-economic groups almost equally,[43] although the experience of having a reading disability may differ based on intersecting characteristics.

The Ministry of Education (Ministry) has recognized that students with learning disabilities are the largest exceptionality group among students with special education needs in Ontario.[44] Since reading disabilities, and dyslexia in particular, are the most common learning disability,[45] it is reasonable to assume that reading disabilities are the most prevalent disability in schools and that there are students with reading disabilities in every classroom.

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Heredity component

Some reading disabilities run in families. For example, approximately 40% of siblings, children or parents of an affected person will have dyslexia.[46] This is significant for several reasons. Failing to address reading disabilities can lead to intergenerational cycles of illiteracy. Parents with reading disabilities may have more challenges supporting their children with learning to read at home. This may be magnified if they have more than one child who struggles to read, which is more likely.

When educators or professionals assess the learning profile of a student, it is important to note if they have been told that there are other family members who experience or have experienced significant academic challenges, or been diagnosed with any disability that could affect learning.[47] This knowledge is a red flag that can allow for earlier identification and intervention. However, many children who have a learning disability will not have a family member who has been diagnosed with one. These children will also need to be flagged with universal early screening.

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Overlap with other learning disabilities

Reading disabilities can exist along with other separate but related disabilities. For example, dyslexia and dysgraphia (problems with writing, including difficulties with spelling, grammar, punctuation and handwriting[48]) can overlap as they both involve processing language.[49] While dyscalculia (difficulty with math) is an independent learning disability, it commonly exists along with dyslexia.[50]

Reading disabilities and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often go hand-in-hand. Estimates are that 30% of people with dyslexia also have ADHD.[51] Where ADHD is noted at a young age, it may indicate a child is at risk of later reading problems.[52] Of course, reading disabilities can overlap with any other disability.



The term “dyslexia” has been used to describe word-level reading difficulties for hundreds of years.[53] It is commonly used in international research and practice and the education field around the world. It is highly researched and there is considerable evidence about what teaching methods and interventions work for dyslexia.[54]

Many people prefer the term dyslexia to describe impairments in word-reading accuracy and/or rate rather than the more general terms reading disability or learning disability. There may be several reasons for this:

  • It is more specific or descriptive, and indicates word-level reading difficulties
  • This specificity helps to clarify what intervention is required
  • There are many resources available, in books and websites that are specific to dyslexia.[55]

One leading researcher noted: “The word [dyslexia] indexes a treasure trove of interdisciplinary scientific research, books and articles that summarize that research, advocacy and support organizations that assist parents and families, and legitimate therapeutic interventions.”[56]

Many people think that dyslexia indicates a learning difference as opposed to a “disability.”[57] They may prefer the term dyslexia to avoid the socially constructed stigma often associated with the “disability” label. The OHRC’s position is that people should be allowed to self-identify and if someone objects to a term used to describe them, it should not be used.

There has been a move away from the term dyslexia in Ontario education over the past several years. This may be, in part, due to a concern that the term is sometimes misunderstood, with people thinking it refers to visual difficulties, such as the tendency to invert letters. The broader term of learning disability may have also been preferred because it includes other reading difficulties as well as sometimes related learning difficulties in other domains (such as writing or math).

The Ministry and school boards do not currently use the term dyslexia or even reading disability, preferring the broader umbrella term learning disability.

Consistent with the fact that the terms dyslexia (when the reading disability relates to word-level reading difficulties) and reading disability are more descriptive and useful, this report uses “reading disability” and “dyslexia” as appropriate throughout. The report also uses “learning disability” where the research referred to uses that term, or where the report refers to the “learning disability” exceptionality as defined by the Ministry.

The report uses “reading difficulty” when referring more broadly to all students who face challenges as they learn to read. Students from several Code-protected groups disproportionately have reading difficulties because of societal factors such as structural inequality. The Code protects the right to read of all students – not just students with reading disabilities.

This report further discusses and makes recommendations about the terminology used in Ontario’s education system in section 12, Professional assessments.

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Identifying reading difficulties

It is possible, and in fact essential, to identify children who may be at risk of reading difficulties at a very young age.

Some signs of reading difficulties in children who are in Kindergarten to Grade 2 include difficulties in learning to:

  • Associate sounds with letters
  • Blend phonemes and segment words into phonemes
  • Decode words.[58]

Early screening for reading difficulties does not require psychological testing. Many professionals including educators, speech-language pathologists and physicians can administer evidence-based early screening tools. Interventions can and should be started without a formal learning disability or reading disability diagnosis.

Where a diagnosis is required, in Ontario it is typically made by a licensed psychologist. However, physicians can also make a clinical diagnosis of a learning disorder based on the DSM-5 criteria.

This report addresses many issues with how reading difficulties are identified and reading disabilities are diagnosed (see sections 9, Early screening and 12, Professional assessments).

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The consequences of not teaching children to read


Most children can learn to read.[59] Reading failure can be prevented in all but a small percentage of students with serious reading disabilities by starting early and using approaches that through decades of research have been proven to be most effective.[60] One expert on reading disability noted:

Researchers now estimate that 95 per cent of all children can be taught to read by the end of first grade.[61]

Despite this, many children still have difficulty reading and writing with significant, lifelong consequences. Children and adults with unsupported learning disabilities and dyslexia[62] can struggle with many aspects of school, employment and life. They are at higher risk for negative emotional, social, educational and occupational outcomes.[63] The negative impacts can be substantial and affect individuals, their families and broader society.

The negative effects of struggling to learn to read can begin very early. As young as age seven, many students with dyslexia feel they have failed in school.[64] When a student is not a proficient reader by the end of Grade 1, it predicts longer-term outcomes such as ongoing reading failure throughout schooling, dropping out of school and developing psychiatric problems.[65]

The difficulties that develop from having an unsupported reading disability are often interrelated, mutually reinforcing and cumulative. For example, when a student loses confidence in their learning abilities, it affects their academic performance and self-esteem. Their impaired academic performance reinforces their poor academic confidence and low self-esteem, and contributes to social, mental health and behavioural difficulties, and so on. The adverse effects can continue over the person’s lifetime, leading to increased risk of underemployment or unemployment, relying on social assistance, poverty, homelessness, criminalization[66] and even suicide.

At the same time, many of these dire consequences can be reduced or prevented through effective and early instruction and intervention.[67] This can change a person’s life course for the better, and lessen the burdens on individuals, their families and society.[68] Many studies note that long-term social and economic costs are reduced by investing in making sure every child learns to read.

Adverse outcomes for persons with reading and other learning disabilities have been extensively researched and documented.[69] These findings are consistent with the lived experiences we heard in the inquiry (see section 6, The experience of students and families). Given the prevalence and seriousness of these consequences, and the cost to individuals, families and society, it is essential that Ontario schools identify and appropriately respond to early reading difficulties.

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School effects

Teaching students to read has been described as “the single most important task assigned to elementary schools.”[70] This is because learning to read in the early grades enables children to read to learn throughout their lifetime. Students who struggle to gain word reading accuracy and fluency fall further behind their peers in their ability to access all aspects of the curriculum in all subject areas:

No other skill taught in school and learned by school children is more important than reading. It is the gateway to all other knowledge. If children do not learn to read efficiently, the path is blocked to every subject they encounter in their school years.[71]

Students without foundational word-reading skills experience a chain of escalating negative academic consequences.[72] A lack of these skills contributes to the “Matthew effect,” where the academically “rich get richer and the poor get poorer” over time. Young children who are good readers experience more success, which encourages them to read more. This additional reading practice further increases their word-reading automaticity (the ability to read without conscious thought), their vocabulary and world knowledge, which all contribute to increased comprehension. This can lead to greater success in all academic areas. On the other hand, struggling readers are less likely to enjoy reading and will avoid it. They do not get additional practice, and do not improve in their word-reading automaticity, and are less likely to learn new vocabulary and knowledge from reading. As a result, their motivation towards reading and school decreases. They can fall behind in all subjects. In this way, early differences between students in acquiring reading skills can get amplified and become huge differences in later grades.[73]

Students with reading difficulties often realize they are struggling to learn to read and write, are making mistakes, and are not meeting expectations (their own and other people’s). One study noted:

This is extremely frustrating to them, as it makes them feel chronically inadequate. This in the long term can cause them a lot of problems in their personal and social life.[74]

From a very young age, students with reading difficulties develop low academic self-concept (a poor perception of their abilities in school).[75] Academic self-concept affects a wide range of educational and emotional outcomes including achievement, motivation, effort, education goals, course choices and career aspirations. Academic self-concept and academic achievement are mutually reinforcing. Low academic self-concept predicts a later lack of academic success, which in turn leads to a lower future academic self-concept.[76]

Students with reading disabilities often experience low academic achievement (or failure) that does not reflect their potential.[77] They can develop school avoidance behaviours and higher absence rates.[78] They are more likely to have behavioural issues at school and to be suspended.[79] They are more likely to drop out of school,[80] less likely to go on to post-secondary education,[81] and they take longer to finish programs they enroll in.[82]

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Stereotyping, discrimination and victimization

Stereotyping, discrimination and victimization can compound the struggles that young students already face with learning to read. This further contributes to their academic difficulties and social isolation.

Both children and adults with learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, have been stereotyped as stupid, cheating, lazy or careless before they get a formal diagnosis.[83] Educators may hold negative attitudes towards students with learning disabilities, believing they are less intelligent, more difficult to teach or lazy.[84]

Their peers may hold similar negative attitudes.[85] In reality, students with reading disabilities are often working extra hard.[86]

As is the case with many other disabilities, attitudes in society that celebrate ability and ostracize difference have a significant impact on the experience of having dyslexia and learning disabilities.[87] People with dyslexia have reported that stereotyping, perceptions and assumptions take a greater emotional toll than the language difficulties they experience.[88]

Implicit negative attitudes of some educators towards students with dyslexia may also directly affect their’ educational experiences and academic performance.[89] Studies have found that negative perceptions towards dyslexic students may affect teachers’ efforts to help, the opportunities they offer, the feedback they give, their nonverbal behaviour,[90] as well as their teaching.[91]

Researchers[92]  used Toronto District School Board data to compare teachers’ subjective assessment of “learning skills and work habits” on provincial report cards[93]  with objective measures of achievement (EQAO scores). Even when they had the same achievement level, there was a disparity in teachers’ perception of students’ learning skills connected to race, gender, disability and socio-economic status. Students who self-identified as White, female, not having special education needs (excluding gifted), and who were from relatively historically privileged family contexts (for example, access to two parents, parents with university education, and living in higher-income neighborhoods) were all perceived to have “better” learning approaches than students who were racialized, male, had special education needs, and who were less socio-demographically privileged, despite the same level of achievement. The researchers concluded that this suggests that teachers have implicit biases that can influence students’ academic pathways and academic outcomes. 

Students with learning disabilities are also at increased risk for bullying and victimization, rejection and social isolation.[94] There is evidence that children and youth with learning disabilities are significantly more likely to be bullied than their peers.[95] They are also more likely to have greater social challenges and fewer friends.[96]

One study of adults with dyslexia found a relationship between dyslexia and childhood physical abuse.[97] Using Canadian data,[98] researchers found that 35% of adults with dyslexia reported being physically abused before they turned 18. In contrast, 7% of people without dyslexia reported experiencing childhood physical abuse. Even after adjusting for variables such as age, race, sex and other early adversities such as parental addictions, dyslexia was six times more likely to be present in children who were physically abused.

In another study of adult dyslexic learners, adults described being ridiculed and punished, and facing traumatic teaching practices (for example, having to stand up and spell in front of the class; or the teacher handing back tests and assignments in the order of marks).[99] While these practices may seem outdated, several people described similar recent experiences in surveys they completed for the inquiry.

Being victimized is connected to withdrawal, stress, depression, social problems, problems with thought and attention and disruptive behaviour.[100] The effects of bullying can further contribute to learning difficulties. One paper on bullying noted:

For those victims with learning disabilities (LD), pre-existing cognitive difficulties can be exacerbated by anxiety and depression brought on by bullying.[101]

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Self-esteem is the attitude we have about ourselves and our overall sense of self-worth and personal value. Self-esteem is created by our experiences and begins to be shaped from the earliest years of our lives. Self-esteem is vital to our psychological functioning and mental health.[102]

Low self-esteem is one of the most common psychological challenges for people with dyslexia and is a risk factor for children, adolescents and adults. For children with dyslexia, a lack of self-esteem often emerges in the early school years. This can interfere with establishing a healthy personality and sense of self.[103] Negative effects on self-esteem and self-concept are more likely when students are not identified as at risk for reading difficulties and supported from a young age.[104]

The combined effects of low academic self-concept, low self-esteem and other challenges associated with reading difficulties affect individuals in many different ways, and may affect social interactions with peers or supervisors in the workplace, as well as success at all levels of schooling and employment.[105]

When reading difficulties are identified early and effective teaching methods and interventions that improve reading skills are used, it contributes to positive self-esteem. Healthy self‐esteem and a good understanding of their reading disability may help children avoid or reduce some of these difficulties.[106] Teaching children to read will help prevent these negative cycles from developing in the first place.

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Mental health effects and suicide

Children with dyslexia may be susceptible to becoming withdrawn, anxious and depressed due to their academic underachievement.[107] People with learning disabilities have been shown to have more psychiatric problems, including depression, anxiety and substance use disorders[108] than people who do not.[109]

For example, one study that examined comorbidities in young people (aged 7–16) with specific learning disorders (in reading, writing and math) found that 28.8% also had an anxiety disorder and 9.4% had a mood disorder.[110] Studies have also found a relationship between reading achievement and behavioural problems, particularly among boys.[111]

Sadly, some research has found an association between suicide and learning/reading disabilities. In one study, adolescents with reading disabilities were more likely to experience suicidal ideation (thinking about suicide) and suicide attempts.[112] Another study that analyzed suicide notes for errors in spelling and writing found that 89% of the 27 adolescents who completed suicide had problems in spelling and handwriting consistent with learning disabilities.[113]

Another Canadian study showed that one in every six women and one in every nine men with a learning disability had attempted suicide. Even after controlling for many of the known risk factors for suicide attempts, people with learning disabilities had 46% higher odds of having ever attempted to die by suicide than people who did not have a learning disability.[114] Among people with learning disabilities, lifetime episodes of major depression and witnessing ongoing domestic violence as children were associated with higher incidence of suicide attempts.[115]

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Overall health

Education and literacy are key determinants of overall health. Lower levels of education and lower literacy skills are associated with worse health outcomes, and may even be associated with premature death.[116] Canadians with low literacy skills are more likely to suffer poorer health and worse health outcomes than Canadians with high levels of literacy.[117]

One paper noted:

The development of reading proficiency in childhood is a public health issue: literacy is a widely recognized determinant of health outcomes and is associated with many indices of academic, social, vocational, and economic success. A recent National Academy of Medicine summary highlights that duration of education, which is highly dependent on reading proficiency, is a better predictor of health and long life than cigarette smoking or obesity.[118]


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Underemployment, poverty and homelessness

Literacy is an essential skill to get and keep a job, and to adapt and succeed at work. Yet in Ontario, a substantial portion of adults (42% according to the International Adult Literacy Skills Survey) do not have the literacy skills they need for home, work and everyday life. Sixteen per cent struggle with very serious literacy challenges and have trouble reading even the most basic text, while the other 26% can read but not well enough to meet the demands of today’s society.[119] Low literacy is worse among certain groups. For example, a Statistics Canada report found that while 17% of all persons had a literacy score in the lowest category in 2012, 30% of recent immigrants, 26% of Indigenous persons,[120] 27% of unattached non-elderly persons, and 23% of people with an activity limitation had a literacy score level in the lowest category.[121]

As of 2018, Ontario’s five-year graduation rate was 87.1% with almost 13% of Ontario students failing to earn an Ontario Secondary School Diploma within five years of entering Grade 9.[122] This rate is even more troubling for certain communities. Only 60% of First Nations students, 68% of Inuit students and 76% of Métis students graduated within five years.[123]

People with low literacy skills are much more likely to experience unemployment and for longer periods of time. In Ontario, just 61% of adults with the lowest literacy levels are employed, while 82% of people with the highest levels of literacy are in the workforce.[124] Without the ability to read or write, many people become trapped in a cycle of poverty with limited opportunities for employment or earning income.[125] Approximately 29% of adults with the lowest levels of literacy live in low-income households (households whose income is below Statistics Canada’s after-tax Low Income Measure), compared with only 8% of people with high levels of literacy.[126] People with low literacy skills are also more likely to receive government social assistance.[127]

Fewer people with diagnosed learning disabilities are employed, and if they are they have less job satisfaction and more work-related challenges.[128] Adults with reading disabilities may have underachieved educationally and may be underemployed.[129] They may avoid jobs that have a lot of reading and writing. They may be reluctant to tell their employer about their disability because they fear discrimination.[130] A wage gap has been found between employees with and without learning disabilities.[131]

The higher school dropout rate for students with learning disabilities leaves them at greater risk for socio-economic disadvantage, street involvement, and even homelessness.[132]

People with childhood learning disabilities are over-represented among homeless youth and adults.[133] A 2016 pan-Canadian study of young people who experience homelessness reported:

Homeless youth have challenging and disrupted academic trajectories, with bullying and learning disabilities impacting school engagement and achievement for these youth. Among study participants, 50% reported being tested for a learning disability while at school, indicating that school staff view these youth as suffering in some way. Importantly, those who had dropped out of school were much more likely to report learning disabilities (41.8%), ADHD (46.1%), and physical disabilities (47.9%).[134]

In a study examining the prevalence of math and reading difficulties in 16- to 21-year-old clients of a shelter for runaway and homeless street youth in Toronto, 52% of participants had a reading disability.[135]

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Criminalization and incarceration

As well as being over-represented in the homeless population, youth and adults with low literacy, learning difficulties, and who have dropped out of school are disproportionately involved with the criminal justice system and in correctional facilities.[136] The 2003 International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey found:

  • Offenders are three times as likely as the rest of the [Canadian] population to have literacy problems
  • 79 of 100 people entering Canadian correctional facilities don’t have their high school diploma
  • 65 of 100 people entering correctional facilities have less than a Grade 8 education or level of literacy skills, and 82% test lower than Grade 10.[137]

Studies from other jurisdictions have found a high prevalence of learning disabilities and dyslexia in adult and youth prison populations (from 30% to 70%).[138]

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) has recognized the link between literacy and crime. In an 18-month project, Literacy and Policing in Canada: Target Crime with Literacy, the CACP identifies several ways that low literacy contributes to crime and recidivism (re-offending). In addition to statistics about lower levels of literacy among offenders compared the general population, the CACP noted:

  • Neighbourhoods with lower literacy have higher crime rates[139]
  • Witnesses with lower literacy have difficulty communicating effectively when giving a report to police or testifying in court[140]
  • Offenders with low literacy have a harder time successfully completing many sentencing programs that involve reading, such as programs for anger management and drug rehabilitation.[141]

The CACP report recognizes the link between literacy and factors such as poverty, racism, being an immigrant, being Indigenous, and having a disability, including learning disability.[142]

CACP has identified increasing literacy as a way to prevent crime.[143]

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Impact on families

The challenges associated with reading difficulties do not end with the affected person. They extend to other family members including parents and guardians, siblings, grandparents and extended family.

Parents want the best for their child and often worry about their child’s physical and mental health (including their confidence and self-esteem), safety (including security from bullying), development, education, future success and overall well-being. When a child experiences difficulties in any one of these areas, it takes a significant toll on parents, siblings and families. Studies that looked at the impact of a reading or learning disability on the family have confirmed that parents of children with reading disabilities experience significant additional stress[144] and anxiety[145] as well as guilt, fear, shame, helplessness, frustration, disillusionment and isolation.[146]

Parents who themselves have a reading disability may have a trauma-like reaction to their child’s diagnosis. They may feel additional guilt, for example from believing that they are genetically responsible for the reading disability, and additional responsibility for trying to protect their child from the same negative experiences they faced. Parents who do not share the disability may feel a painful loss of connection to their child.[147]

Parents also commonly report tension in the relationship between parents and an impact on family dynamics and unity,[148] as well as financial impacts and interrupted careers.[149]

Parents expend significant time, money and emotional energy to try to get help for their child.[150] Parents must become advocates for their child within the school system and they must also locate and pay for services outside the school system. Parental involvement and persistence are often needed to get any supports in school. Many parents cannot afford to pay for outside private supports such as psychoeducational assessments and private education services. This contributes to their guilt, stress and anxiety.[151] An Australian paper describing the many struggles that parents, often mothers, face when their child has dyslexia noted:

Mothers become emotionally and physically drained as they become heavily involved in their child’s remedial education…and worry for the child’s future. Many mothers choose to quit their jobs to focus their energy and time attending to their child…Overall, the literature reports ongoing difficulties for parents as they struggle to support their child before, during and after the assessment of dyslexia...[152]

When a child struggles and needs extra attention from parents and other relatives, it can also have a negative impact on siblings and sibling relationships.[153]

Other families without the means for private psychologists and networks to learn about reading disabilities may be unaware of or unable to tackle the obstacles impeding their child’s success at school.

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Costs of low literacy

The negative impacts described above result in significant socio-economic costs to the affected individuals, their families, and society as a whole.

The estimated financial costs that result from reading disabilities, learning disabilities and low literacy have been quantified and are substantial. A report prepared by the Roeher Institute for the Learning Disabilities Association of Canada[154] estimated direct and indirect costs that result from learning disabilities. It considered costs to individuals, families and society arising from:

  • Hospital and medical services
  • Miscellaneous health-related expenses
  • Medications
  • Education services
  • Criminal justice services
  • Income transfers through social assistance programs
  • Services provided by community agencies to assist with everyday activities because of disability
  • Reduced earnings of people with learning disabilities
  • Reduced household incomes (forgone income related to taking care of persons with learning disabilities).[155]

The Roeher report took a conservative approach to quantifying costs by not including costs of assessments, re-evaluations, reports to employers or accommodation costs in its calculations.

It found that the estimated simple incremental cost of a learning disability (the cost difference between the situation of a person with a learning disability and a person without, from birth to retirement) is $1.982 million per person. The burden of these costs mainly falls on the person with the learning disability and their family (61.4% of the costs). Public programs cover approximately 38.5% of the costs and private-sector insurers take on the balance (for example, by covering medication costs).

The report quantified the estimated overall costs to society. Using a conservative estimate that 5% of the Canadian population has a learning disability, the report found that the simple incremental cost of learning disabilities from birth to retirement (to all individuals with learning disabilities, their families and to public and private programs in Canada) is about $3,080 billion.[156] These figures are from the early 2000s, and would likely be much higher in today’s dollars.

Similarly, in evidence submitted to a United Kingdom (U.K.) Parliamentary Committee in 2006, the Dyslexia Institute in the U.K. quantified long-term economic costs to society from the systemic failure to support children with dyslexia. The institute estimated that undiagnosed dyslexia and reading failure cost the U.K. economy $1 billion per year.[157]

There is an economic cost associated with students failing to complete high school, which is more likely for students with reading disabilities. One study looked at financial costs to society in the areas of health, social assistance, crime, labour and employment. The study found that a 1% increase in the graduation rate could save the Canadian economy $7.7 billion per year (in 2008 dollars).[158]

A report on literacy in Canada noted that Canada has a problem with literacy that is getting worse.[159] The report cites data showing that more than 40% of Canada’s workforce does not have the literacy skills needed for most of today’s jobs. It identifies several reasons for this, including low youth literacy due to failures in Canada’s education system.[160]

One of the report’s main recommendations is to improve the literacy skills of graduates of Kindergarten to Grade 12 and post-secondary programs. This would have significant benefit to our economy and would lead to a “tangible return on investment.”[161] Increasing literacy skills in the workforce, particularly of people with the lowest literacy levels, by an average of 1%, would over time lead to a 3% increase in Canada’s Gross Domestic Product, or $54 billion every year, and a 5% increase in productivity.[162]

A Canadian study concluded that improving health literacy,[163] which is affected by general literacy, could lead to reductions in health costs:

Although the evidence of the financial costs associated with low health literacy in Canada is sparse, there is enough Canadian and American research to suggest that policies designed to raise average health literacy levels might lead to improvements in population health and concomitant reductions in health costs.[164]

It is well known that money spent on early education reduces the overall costs to the education system over time. In Moore v British Columbia, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal noted:

The importance of early intervention as a means of helping to ensure the academic success of all students cannot be overstated. A report prepared for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (Clarifying Report, 1995) put it this way:

Special instruction for under-achievers, especially at the beginning of primary education should be regarded…as a first-class investment….It become[s] progressively more costly to deal with the difficulties of [students with low achievement] since, as they move “up” from class to class, compensatory programmes tend to have less and less effect….Investment in compensatory education should be seen, therefore, not as a charge on educational budgets but as a deferred gain.[165]

A special education report commissioned by the British Columbia Ministry of Education noted that research has shown “that for every education-related dollar we spend during a child’s early years we save many dollars in the health care and justice systems.”[166]

Investing in ensuring every child in Ontario has the best opportunity to learn to read simply makes economic sense. The financial and social returns of investing in proven, effective methods to teach reading and prevent reading failure far outweigh the original investment.

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Literacy as a social justice issue

Teaching all children to read has been identified as a social justice issue. One of the goals of a publicly funded education system is to give every child an opportunity to succeed, no matter their background.[167] However, children from historically disadvantaged communities, including children who are Black, Indigenous, learning English or who live in poverty, are disproportionately represented among students who struggle with reading.[168] Lower literacy has been identified as one of the reasons these communities have lower academic achievement, are under-represented in professions that require higher education, and are over-represented in prison populations, among other things.[169]

When the education system provides vulnerable children with a strong foundation in reading, it has the potential to reduce their historical and social disadvantage. When it does not, it can deepen their marginalization and entrench their risk of intergenerational inequality.[170]

A paper written for the Canadian Education Association described the role of the education system in levelling the playing field for disadvantaged children. It said: “when children at risk receive the support necessary to develop literacy skills early in their school career, they close the gap with more advantaged peers.”[171] It concluded that schools have a role in benefitting society and redressing social inequity by teaching children to read early and well:

Schools can better reflect Canada’s commitment to equity and inclusivity by equalizing educational opportunity for disadvantaged children at an early age. … improving literacy outcomes is not just about raising reading scores; it truly is a matter of social justice.[172]

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Education in Ontario

The purpose of education

Education is essential to both individual and societal progress. International legal instruments recognize the importance of education for human development and also for collective growth. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights[173] (UDHR) states that the goal of education is “the full development of the human personality” and also to promote “understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups.”[174]

Education is so important for realizing other rights and freedoms that it is reflected in many other international and foundational documents, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights[175] (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights[176] (ICESCR). Education “is both a human right in itself and an indispensable means of realizing other rights.”[177]

The ICESCR and other human rights instruments[178] elaborate on the UDHR and underscore the role of education in fostering a person’s capabilities, sense of dignity and self-worth so they can actively take part in and meaningfully contribute to society.[179]

Ontario’s Education Act[180] echoes these principles. The Act states: “A strong public education system is the foundation of a prosperous, caring and civil society,” and the “purpose of education is to provide students with the opportunity to realize their potential and develop into highly skilled, knowledgeable, caring citizens who contribute to their society.”[181]

Internationally and in Ontario, the consensus is that education is critical to a person’s personal, social and economic development, and vital to their ability to contribute to the well-being of their community. To realize this vision, all students must have equal access to a meaningful education. In Ontario, education partners each have their own set of distinct responsibilities to ensure this reality for all students.

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Responsibility for public education in Ontario

The Education Act and its accompanying regulations govern public education in Ontario and set out the duties and responsibilities of different education partners. The Act states:

All partners in the education sector, including the Minister, the Ministry and the boards, have a role to play in enhancing student achievement and well-being, closing gaps in student achievement and maintaining confidence in the province’s publicly funded education systems.[182]

Some of the main partners in delivering education are described below.

Ministry of Education

Under the Education Act, the Ministry has ultimate responsibility for education.[183] As well as funding and oversight functions, the Ministry has overall responsibility for developing legislation, regulations and policies for education. The Ministry is responsible for:

  • Issuing policy directives, known as Policy/Program Memoranda (PPMs) to school boards to outline expectations for implementing Ministry policies and programs
  • Monitoring the implementation of these policies and programs, making sure that school boards comply with the requirements of the Education Act and its regulations
  • Allocating funding through a series of grants that are described annually in regulations under the Education Act, and establishing reporting and accountability requirements for these grants
  • Issuing curriculum,[184] which includes the “front matter” (foundational information), curriculum expectations and teacher supports. Curriculum expectations, overall and specific, make up the mandatory Ontario curriculum. They are the standard knowledge and skills that students are expected to show in each subject by the end of the grade
  • Developing and publishing policy and resource documents for Kindergarten to Grade 12. Policy documents outline mandatory requirements and standards. Resource documents support implementation of policy, and their use is a local decision.
  • Setting out the categories and definitions of “exceptionality” that school boards must use, and ensuring that boards provide appropriate special education programs and services for these students in accordance with the Education Act and its regulations[185]
  • Providing regional office staff with special education expertise to monitor and assist school boards in implementing special education policies
  • Setting provincial standards and guidelines for all assessment, evaluation and reporting for all students
  • Setting requirements for diplomas and certificates[186]
  • Requiring school boards to maintain Special Education Plans, review them annually, and submit amendments.[187] Special Education Plans provide information to the Ministry and the public about special education programs and services that school boards provide
  • Preparing lists of approved textbooks and other learning materials[188]
  • Initiating research and grants available for school board use.[189]

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Provincial and demonstration schools

The Ministry also operates provincial and demonstration schools that provide specialized integrated programming for students with special learning needs.[190] Ontario has three English/American Sign Language provincial schools for students who are Deaf/hard of hearing, one English-language provincial school for students who are blind/low vision and deafblind, three demonstration schools for students diagnosed with severe learning disabilities, some of whom may also have ADHD and one French-language provincial school for children who are Deaf or hard of hearing, blind or have low vision, are deafblind or have severe learning disabilities. Unlike the other provincial and demonstration schools, this French-language school, Centre Jules-Léger (CLJ) is not governed by the Ministry. CLJ is operated by a consortium of French-language school boards. Provincial schools offer the Ontario curriculum for students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 and parallel courses provided in school boards. Demonstration schools provide a one-year residential school program for students with a possibility for a second year in certain program areas.

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School boards and school authorities

The province’s 72 publicly funded school boards are responsible for delivering special education programs and services in accordance with Ministry requirements – the Education Act, regulations and policy. These boards are made up of 31 English public boards, 29 English Catholic boards, four French public boards and eight French Catholic boards. Ten Ontario schools are operated by school authorities that oversee schools in hospitals and treatment centres, and in remote regions.[191] School boards are responsible for most aspects of delivering education to students and for providing education programs that meet the needs of the school community, including the needs for special education. School boards are responsible for:

  • Setting standards for delivering education and services in their schools
  • Developing and monitoring policies in achieving goals such as effective instruction
  • Ensuring schools follow Ministry requirements
  • Implementing curriculum according to Ministry policy
  • Deciding how to spend funds from the Ministry
  • Providing statistical reports to the Ministry as required and as requested
  • Implementing procedures for early and ongoing identification of children’s learning needs[192]
  • Developing procedures and protocols such as Multi-Year Strategic Plans and Board Improvement Plans for Student Achievement and Well-being
  • Developing Special Education Plans and reviewing them annually[193]
  • Providing appropriately qualified staff for programs and services for exceptional students
  • Preparing guides to provide parents with information about special education programs, services and procedures
  • Providing professional development to staff
  • Establishing new teacher induction programs (NTIP) as required by the Ministry,[194] including orientation, mentoring and professional learning.

Many different administrative, teaching and professional staff support student learning and achievement. Some of these staff are described below.


Principals are responsible for organizing and managing individual schools, including any budget the school board assigns to the school. They are responsible for the quality of instruction at their school and for student discipline. Principals are responsible for assigning teachers to classes and selecting textbooks and other learning materials from the approved Ministry list, with the help of teachers. Principals are also required to provide the Ministry with any information that may be required on the school’s instructional program, operation or administration.[195]


Teachers are responsible for preparing lesson plans, effective instruction and supporting their students. They carry out different kinds of assessments – diagnostic, formative and summative. Diagnostic assessments occur before instruction begins so teachers can determine students’ readiness to learn and plan instruction and assessment that are differentiated. Formative assessments occur during instruction, and help teachers monitor students’ ongoing progress. Summative assessments occur at or near the end of learning. On request, teachers report to the principal on their students’ progress. Teachers are also responsible for taking part in regular meetings with students’ parents or guardians.[196]

Special education teachers

Special education teachers hold qualifications, in accordance with the Education Act,[197] to teach special education. They play a variety of roles including consulting with and assisting classroom teachers with early identification, differentiating and modifying curriculum, assessment, intervention strategies, developing and coordinating Individual Education Plans (IEPs), and in-class or withdrawal support for special education students.[198]

Special education teachers may teach in self-contained classrooms. In a self-contained/specialized/special education class, students are placed in a smaller class with students who have similar academic needs. These students spend their whole day or at least 50% of their day outside the regular classroom.[199] Special education teachers may also work as a learning resource teacher or in-school support person, or may be a consultant/itinerant role where they support a variety of schools. 

Registered early childhood educators

Registered early childhood educators work alongside a teacher in every Kindergarten class that has 16 or more students in Ontario. They are trained in early childhood development, observation skills and assessment skills. They focus on age-appropriate program planning that promotes each child’s physical, cognitive, language, emotional, social and creative development and well-being.[200]

Educational assistants

Educational assistants work in and outside the classroom as directed by the principal. Depending on their qualifications, they enable students with a variety of emotional, behavioral, physical, personal care, and medical and academic needs to access the curriculum.

Literacy specialists

Literacy specialists work with administrators, educators and students to deepen their understanding of the reading and writing process and extend the repertoire of teaching and learning strategies. Their goals are to promote student learning and to raise achievement.[201] School boards in Ontario set their own standard for hiring specialists, and use different language to refer to their literacy support specialists – including early literacy teachers, lead literacy teachers, literacy coaches, itinerant teachers and literacy resource teachers. Literacy specialists can be either based in school boards where they work district-wide (often assigned to a family of schools), or can work in a specific school (often with release time from teaching).[202]

Speech-language pathology staff

Speech-language pathologists work in school boards and provide a range of interdisciplinary supports for students, such as reading instruction using Universal Design for Learning strategies and evidence-based reading intervention for children with or at risk for reading disabilities across all tiers of instruction. They also provide screening for literacy skills, communication programming and interventions, professional assessments of literacy and oral language, and training for educators. They work with individual students, groups of students and educator teams, both inside and outside the classroom.[203]

School board psychology staff

School board psychology staff provide a range of services for students such as consultation, diagnostic assessments, counselling, crisis response, referral to community-based services, and professional development for staff. Psychology staff conduct psychoeducational assessments (also known as psychological assessments). These assessments identify a student’s learning strengths and needs and provide programming recommendations.[204]

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Ontario College of Teachers

The Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) regulates the teaching profession and governs its members, as set out in the Ontario College of Teachers Act.[205] The College develops codes of conduct for teachers, investigates complaints and makes decisions about teacher discipline and fitness to practice.

The College also sets requirements for the Certificate of Qualification. This certificate is a member’s license to teach in Ontario and outlines teaching qualifications. To receive this certificate, most teacher candidates complete a minimum three-year post-secondary degree, a four-semester teacher education program at a faculty of education. The College sets the standards for teacher education programs at Ontario faculties of education and monitors these programs to make sure they meet the standards.

Teachers who complete their teacher education program in Ontario have the required areas of study – known as Basic Qualifications – to teach in two consecutive divisions – Primary/Junior (Kindergarten to Grade 3), Junior/Intermediate (Grades 4–6), and Intermediate/Senior (Grades 7–12). Basic Qualifications determine what language, grades and subjects teachers can teach. Teachers can take Additional Basic Qualification (ABQ) courses through a faculty of education to add another division or subject area to what they are already qualified to teach. Additional Qualification (AQ) courses allow teachers to expand their knowledge and skills within the divisions and subjects they are already qualified for. Examples of AQ courses include Special Education or Reading. Faculties of education and other providers across Ontario offer AQ courses, based on guidelines the College has developed establishing learning expectations, instructional strategies and forms of assessment.

Specialist and honour specialist courses allow teachers to focus on leadership and developing curriculum.

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Faculties of education

Thirteen public faculties of education offer English-language initial teacher education programs in Ontario. Preparing for a career in teaching in Ontario currently involves successfully completing a three- or four-year bachelor’s degree, followed by a two-year (four-semester) program of professional education accredited by the Ontario College of Teachers. After completing a four-semester teacher education program, teacher candidates apply to the OCT to receive a Certificate of Qualification. It is also possible to get certification through a concurrent program, where the five or six years of academic and professional studies are undertaken at the same time. All pre-service teacher education programs offered by Ontario's faculties of education must be accredited by the Ontario College of Teachers.

Select faculties of education are recognized providers of AQ courses accredited by the OCT.


Professional organizations and bargaining agents for teachers and other educators

The Ontario Teachers’ Federation (OTF), established by the Teaching Profession Act,[206] is the professional organization for all teachers in Ontario’s publicly funded schools. OTF is the official liaison between teachers and the Ministry and provides advice and input about policy decisions.

Teachers also belong to one of four Ontario federations (or unions) affiliated with the OTF. Some of these unions also represent a significant number of non-teaching school board staff such as early childhood educators and other professional support staff. The four federations are:

  • The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) represents English-language elementary public school teachers
  • The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) represents secondary teachers in English-language public school boards
  • The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) represents both elementary and secondary teachers in Catholic boards
  • The Association des enseignantes et enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO) represents all teachers in French-language boards.

While some unions represent other education workers, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) represents the majority of school-based staff who are not teachers. Members include office; clerical and technical; custodial and maintenance; early childhood educators, and educational assistant employees.

Unions represent their members in negotiations to reach collective agreements with school boards. These collective agreements include central and local terms. When negotiating central terms, school boards are represented by their school board association, and the Crown is a participant. Decisions about which items are negotiated locally or centrally are determined by the central table. Central terms could include salary, hiring practices, professional development, class sizes, funding and the exercise of professional judgment. Educator sector unions issue directives to their members on matters that affect their collective bargaining rights or public education, more broadly.[207] They also issue internal and external policies or position statements to guide their members or set out beliefs that guide union action on issues such as equity and inclusive education, disability issues and developing curriculum.[208]

Education unions also provide resources to help their members implement the Ontario curriculum, advance equity, support student learning and negotiate their employment. Some unions also offer AQ courses accredited by the OCT on a range of subjects.

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Education Quality and Accountability Office

The Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) is an arm’s-length agency of the provincial government that develops and administers province-wide tests to evaluate the achievement of students in Grades 3, 6, 9 and 10. Grade 3 and Grade 6 students are tested in reading, writing and mathematics based on Ontario curriculum expectations. Grade 9 students are tested only in mathematics. As a condition of high school graduation with an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD), all students, including students in private schools, must pass the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT), which is usually written in Grade 10. It is possible for a student to graduate with an OSSD by completing the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course instead of the OSSLT.

All students are expected to write these assessments, but exemptions can be made. Exemption decisions are made in consultation with the student, parents or guardians, principal and appropriate teaching staff, with the consent of the parents or guardians. If a parent or guardian want their child to write the assessment, the student must be allowed to write.

The EQAO sets the criteria for who qualifies for an accommodation and what form of accommodation is permitted. Accommodations are generally only available to students with an IEP, certain English language learners and other students with special circumstances. Examples of permitted accommodations include scribing or assistive technology.

As well as achievement scores, the EQAO collects and reports on student demographic data and questionnaire responses from students, teachers and principals. The EQAO also collects data on special education needs by category of exceptionality and on matters such as types of accommodation received and enrolment in academic vs. applied courses. The EQAO reports to the Minister of Education, the public and the education community on assessment and education issues and makes recommendations for improvement.

The mandate of EQAO is to enhance the quality and accountability of the education system in Ontario and to work with the education community.

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Special education framework

School boards identify and meet students’ special education needs in formal and informal ways.

School boards must identify students’ learning needs early on and on an ongoing basis.[209] This may identify students who show difficulties in learning. If these students would benefit from special education supports and accommodations, they are entitled to receive them. In addition to these special education services, these students should have an Individual Education Plan (IEP).

Some students may be referred to an Identification, Placement and Review Committee (IPRC), a formal process that might identify the student as “exceptional.” If identified as “exceptional,” an IEP must be created and the student must receive the necessary accommodations and special education supports. Students may have an IEP, setting out what special education services they may receive, without an IPRC.

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The Education Act requires the Ministry to ensure that appropriate special education programs and services are provided for all exceptional students in Ontario in accordance with the Act and its regulations.[210] The Act identifies five categories of exceptionalities:

  1. Behavioural
  2. Communicational
  3. Intellectual
  4. Physical
  5. Multiple.[211]

In policy documents, the Ministry defines these exceptionalities and lists subcategories.[212] “Learning disability” is a subcategory of “Communicational” exceptionalities.[213] Although reading disability is not explicitly listed, a student with a reading disability may be identified as an exceptional student with a “learning disability.”

In a memo directed to all school boards, the Ministry has elaborated on how these categories should be interpreted broadly.[214] Including some disabilities (such as autism) is not meant to exclude other disabilities (such as ADHD).

All students with demonstrated learning-based needs are entitled to special education programs and services, including classroom-based accommodations. The determining factor for providing special education programs is the need of the student, and not a diagnosed or undiagnosed medical condition[215] or formally identifying the student as exceptional.[216]

Also, under the Code, education providers must accommodate all students who have or may have disabilities, not just students whose disabilities are listed in the exceptionality categories.

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Identification, Placement and Review Committees (IPRC)

School boards must establish Identification, Placement and Review Committees (IPRC).[217] An IPRC is the committee that meets and decides if a student should be identified as exceptional, and if so, what placement will best meet the student's needs.

If identified as exceptional, the committee decides whether a student should be placed in a regular classroom with supports, in a special education class or a combination of both.[218] Where placement in a regular classroom would meet the child’s needs and is consistent with parental preferences, the IPRC must place the child in the regular classroom.

The IPRC also has the power to make recommendations, but not decisions, about special education programs and services. The IPRC must review the identification and placement at least once in each school year. A parent (or guardian) may give written notice dispensing with the annual review.[219]

School boards are required to establish Special Education Appeal Boards (SEAB). Parents may appeal the decisions of an IPRC to the SEAB.[220] Identification and placement decisions can be appealed, but recommendations on programs and services cannot be appealed.

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Individual Education Plan

If the IPRC decision is not appealed, an Individual Education Plan (IEP) must be prepared for the student.[221] The student’s principal is responsible for ensuring this happens. An IEP is the school’s written plan of action to address the student’s learning expectations. The Ministry describes it as an “accountability tool” for the student, the parent and everyone else who has responsibilities under the plan.[222]

The Education Act sets out certain requirements for an IEP.[223] The Ministry has also set out additional requirements in PPMs and policy standards that school boards must follow when creating IEPs.[224] The IEP must describe:

  • Reasons for developing the IEP
  • Student profile
  • Relevant assessment data
  • The student’s strengths and needs
  • Specialized health support services the student needs
  • The subjects, courses or alternative programs the IEP applies to
  • Accommodations the student needs
  • Any accommodations for or exemptions from provincial assessments (EQAO)
  • The student’s current level of achievement in every subject or course where modified expectations are required and in every alternative program
  • Modified or alternative expectations for the reporting period
  • Teaching strategies and other accommodations tailored to the student’s strengths, needs, learning style and interests, to support learning and determine progress in achieving modified or alternative expectations
  • Human resources (both teaching and non-teaching) to be provided
  • Reporting dates for evaluations and how student progress will be reported to parents
  • A transition plan (for example, on entry to school, between grades, from one program area or subject to another, when moving from school to school, from elementary to secondary school and from secondary school to the next appropriate pathway)[225]
  • A record of parent/student consultations
  • A record of staff review of the IEP
  • Signatures of the principal, parent, and student if 16 or older.[226]

The Ministry conducts reviews of selected school boards’ IEPs on an annual basis to assess compliance with these standards.[227]

In developing the IEP, the principal must consult with the student’s parent or guardian (or with the student, if they are 16 or older), and must consider any recommendations made through the IPRC process.

An IEP may also identify “modified” or “alternative” learning expectations. Modifications are changes made to the grade-level expectations for a subject or course to meet a student’s learning needs.[228] Modifications can include assessment at a different grade level or changing the number and/or complexity of the regular-grade level expectations. Alternative expectations are those that are not derived from the expectations set out in the curriculum.[229]

Students who have not been identified with an exceptionality by an IPRC are also entitled to receive special education programs or services and accommodations to meet their education needs. In these cases, an IEP may be developed for a student who the board has deemed to require a special education program or services to attend school or achieve curriculum expectations and/or to demonstrate learning.[230] 

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Legal obligations

Equal access to education is a fundamental human right guaranteed under the Ontario Human Rights Code[231] (Code), the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms[232] (Charter), and international law. The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) has affirmed that all students must have meaningful access to education, which includes being provided the supports needed to learn to read.[233] In Eaton v Brant Country Board of Education (Eaton), the SCC also emphasized the importance of inclusive education as an equality right, finding that “…integration should be recognized as the norm of general application because of the benefits it generally provides.”[234]


Ontario’s Human Rights Code and Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

The Code protects students from discrimination and harassment in education based on disability, including reading disability/dyslexia,[235] and other prohibited grounds such as race, ancestry, place of origin, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation and gender identity.[236]

Family, friends, advocates or others are protected from discrimination based on their association with students with reading disabilities.[237] The Code also prohibits reprisal, which is an action or threat that is intended as retaliation for claiming, enforcing or refusing to infringe a right under the Code.[238]

The Code has primacy over all other Ontario laws, including the Education Act, unless the law specifically states that it operates notwithstanding the Code.[239] This means that where the Education Act conflicts with the Code, the Code will prevail. It is not enough for education providers to do what is required under the Education Act. They must also comply with the requirements of the Code, which may mean doing more than what is required under the Education Act.[240]

For example, while the Ministry has its own framework for identifying “exceptional pupils” under the Education Act, the Ontario Human Rights Code and human rights case law[241] establish that education providers have a legal duty to accommodate students’ disability-related needs to the point of undue hardship. This legal duty exists whether or not a student with a disability falls within the Ministry’s definition of “exceptional pupil,” has received a diagnosis, gone through a formal IPRC process, or has an IEP.

Like the Code, section 15 of the Charter guarantees students’ right to equality without discrimination based on mental or physical disability, among other grounds.[242] State actors (such as governments and school boards) must not infringe Charter rights unless the infringement can be justified as a reasonable limit under section 1 of the Charter.[243]

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Forms of discrimination

Discrimination may take different forms. It may take place in a direct way,[244] where students receive worse treatment than others because of disability and/or another Code ground. This form of discrimination is often based on negative attitudes, stereotypes and bias. However, intent or motive is not relevant for a finding of discrimination. Discrimination is often subtle and hard to detect. It may be unlikely that discriminatory remarks will be made directly, or that someone will freely voice their stereotypical views as a rationale for their behaviour.

Adverse effect discrimination (also called constructive discrimination) results from requirements, policies, standards, qualifications, rules or factors that may appear neutral, but have a negative effect based on a prohibited ground. Adverse effect discrimination can only be justified as reasonable and bona fide if the needs of the student cannot be accommodated without undue hardship.[245] 

Discrimination in education can also be systemic[246] or institutionalized.[247] Systemic or institutional discrimination is one of the more complex ways that discrimination happens.[248] This discrimination includes attitudes, patterns of behaviour, policies or practices that are part of the social or administrative structures of an institution or sector, and that create or perpetuate a position of relative disadvantage for students with disabilities or who identify by other Code grounds.[249]

Education providers have a positive obligation to make sure they are not engaging in systemic or institutional discrimination. This means that even if there are no complaints, educators are expected to consider and plan for avoiding this discrimination. An important principle that helps avoid adverse effect and systemic discrimination is inclusive design. In the education context, “Universal Design for Learning” (UDL)[250] is a form of inclusive design that emphasizes equal participation and recognizes that all students have varying abilities and needs.

In Eaton, a case about inclusive education, the SCC noted the need to “fine-tune” society so that structures and assumptions do not exclude people with disabilities from taking part.[251] Education providers should never create barriers when designing new systems or revising old ones, and should design their programs, services and facilities inclusively with the needs of all students, including students with disabilities, in mind.[252] Effective inclusive design reduces the need for people to ask for individual accommodation.

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Duty to accommodate and undue hardship

Consistent with human rights principles, education services must be designed to reflect and include all students, as much as possible.  Where individual needs remain, there is a duty to accommodate those needs to the point of undue hardship.

The duty to accommodate has both a procedural and substantive component. This means that the process to explore and assess accommodation options is just as important as the accommodations that are provided. Courts and tribunals have found that education providers must at least consider alternatives in meeting the duty to accommodate, and not doing so can result in findings of discrimination even if no accommodation would have been possible.[253]

Accommodations must be provided unless it would cause undue hardship. Undue hardship is a very high standard. Under the Code, the only considerations when assessing this are cost (factoring in outside sources of funding)[254] and health and safety requirements.[255]

The cost standard is a high threshold.[256] The government is required to make sure that school boards have access to enough funding to safeguard equal access to education. Given the Ministry’s size and access to resources, it would be very difficult for it to establish undue hardship based on cost.[257] School boards also have a responsibility to provide adequate funding to schools to enable them to provide accommodations. The appropriate way to evaluate cost is based on the global budget of the school board, not the pre-determined special education budget.[258] Inclusive design at the outset can often avoid expensive costs later on.

The Code recognizes that the right to be free from discrimination must be balanced with health and safety considerations. Depending on the nature and degree of risk involved, an education provider may argue that accommodating a student with a disability would amount to an undue hardship, based on health and safety risks. However, the seriousness of the risk of accommodation should be judged based on taking suitable precautions to reduce it.

Factors such as business or institutional convenience,[259] student or educator morale,[260] third-party preferences,[261] and collective agreements[262] are not valid considerations in assessing if an accommodation would cause undue hardship.[263]

Accommodations must be both effective and timely. When educating children, accommodation delayed can be accommodation denied. Education providers must therefore provide early intervention or interim accommodation as soon as a disability-related need is suspected, and must not obstruct or delay the accommodation process by rigidly insisting on formalities, unnecessary professional assessments, or diagnosis information.[264]

Effective communication about accommodation procedures is essential to the accommodation process.[265] Information about accommodation procedures should be readily available to students, and where applicable, their parents and guardians. The duty to accommodate is a shared responsibility that requires all parties to cooperate.[266]

However, parent behaviour cannot be the basis for failing to accommodate a student’s needs, unless the behaviour interferes with an education provider’s ability to accommodate.[267]

Also, before concluding that a student (or their parent/guardian) has not co-operated, education providers should consider if there are any disability or Code-related factors that may prevent taking part in the process. These factors may then need to be accommodated.

In Moore v British Columbia (Education), the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) unanimously affirmed that the right to meaningful access to education includes early and effective intervention.[268] For this access to be meaningful, there must be a range of services available, and services must be specific to each student’s identified needs.[269] In this case, student Jeffrey Moore needed intensive and individualized remediation to have meaningful access. The SCC said that for students with severe dyslexia, remedial instruction to learn to read “is not a dispensable luxury,” but a “ramp that provides access to the statutory commitment to education made to all children…”[270] The SCC confirmed that if parents must resort to private education because the public system is found to discriminate, then boards can be ordered to compensate the parents for the cost of tuition. The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) has also found that if a school board did not provide the supports necessary to provide meaningful access to education, and the school board cannot show that providing the supports would be undue hardship, the HRTO can order the school board to reimburse parents for private school.[271] 

The accommodation process must be individualized.[272] The SCC states: “The importance of the individualized nature of the accommodation process cannot be minimized”[273] and disability means “vastly different things depending upon the individual and the context.”[274] Individualized accommodation also requires education providers to be mindful that many students with disabilities will identify by other Code grounds, in addition to disability.

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Discrimination may be intersectional when it occurs based on two or more Code grounds. Students who identify based on more than one Code ground can experience discrimination in unique and compounded ways because of how these identities intersect.[275]

In Egan v Canada[276] and Corbiere v Canada,[277] former SCC Justice L’Heureux-Dubé stated: “More often than not, disadvantage arises from the way in which society treats particular individuals, rather than from any characteristic inherent in those individuals”[278] and individuals with more than one ground of discrimination can be “doubly disadvantaged.”[279] The HRTO has also stated that individuals with “multiple/intersecting social identities may be particularly vulnerable.”[280]

Examples of intersecting identities creating distinct disadvantage could include:

  • Black students with disabilities may be streamed into particular programs based on stereotypical assumptions about their capabilities because of their disability and race[281]
  • The impact of intergenerational trauma and educators’ lack of cultural competency may have a negative impact on the learning experiences of First Nations, Métis and Inuit students with disabilities[282]
  • Racialized and First Nations, Métis and Inuit students with disabilities may be disproportionally excluded from the classroom due to suspensions or other forms of discipline[283]
  • Francophone students with disabilities may have difficulty accessing special education services in their language
  • Multilingual or newcomer students may not receive timely supports for their disability needs because of assumptions related to language or their place of origin
  • Students with a disability who also have low incomes may not have the same access to private services as other students, or may not benefit equally from services offered within the school[284]
  • Female and male-identified students with disabilities may receive different treatment based on stereotypes about learning potential related to their gender.[285]

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OHRC Policy on accessible education for students with disabilities

The OHRC’s Policy on accessible education for students with disabilities (Accessible education policy) provides more detail on applying the Code to special education. This policy provides practical guidance for rights-holders to understand the scope of the Code, and for education providers to meet their legal duties. 

Section 30 of the Code authorizes the OHRC to establish human rights policies to provide guidance on interpreting provisions in the Code, effectively setting standards to ensure compliance.[286]


International human rights law

Canada has signed or ratified many international documents that guarantee the right to education, including:

  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)[287]
  • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)[288]
  • Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)[289]
  • Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)[290]
  • United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration).[291]

International human rights treaties and conventions are not part of Canadian law unless the relevant legislature has implemented them.[292] However, even unimplemented but ratified treaties can be relevant and persuasive before Canadian courts.[293] The SCC has acknowledged the importance of international law in interpreting domestic law.[294]

International law helps give meaning and context to Canadian law. The SCC has stated that courts should interpret domestic law according to the presumption that it is consistent with Canada’s international obligations.[295] The SCC has also affirmed that the Charter should be presumed to provide protection at least as great as that provided by similar provisions in international human rights documents that Canada has ratified.[296]

Under Canada’s constitutional framework, education falls under provincial authority. Federal and provincial governments are jointly responsible for implementing international human rights treaties. Each jurisdiction must pass legislation to incorporate international law into domestic legislation. As a practice, Canada seeks the consent of provinces before ratifying treaties, and co-ordinates with provinces to meet the United Nations’ reporting requirements on implementing different treaties.[297]

International human rights agreements are influential in interpreting Ontario’s laws, and have also helped shape these laws. The Preamble to the Ontario Human Rights Code’s emphasis on the “inherent dignity” of all people was inspired by the 1948 UDHR.[298] The UDHR is the foundation for many other international human rights agreements. Article 26 is the basis for the global right to education for all.[299]

The right to education in the UDHR has been further recognized in other international legal instruments. Article 13 of the ICESCR deals with the right to education and Article 2 allows for progressively achieving this right subject to “maximum available resources.”[300]

International law recognizes that children have their own rights and deserve special protection due to their particular vulnerability. Article 23 of the CRC recognizes the rights of children with disabilities to “enjoy a full and decent life, in conditions which ensure dignity, promote self-reliance and facilitate the child’s active participation in the community.”[301] This Article further requires state parties to extend special care to children with disabilities, to make sure they have effective access to and receive education in a way that makes it possible for the child to achieve the fullest possible social integration and individual development. Article 3 requires decision-makers to make the best interests of children their primary concern in all actions that may affect them.[302]

Most recently, Article 24 of the CRPD recognizes the right of people with disabilities to education without discrimination.[303] Articles 2 and 24, read together, expressly support Universal Design for Learning;[304] and require state parties to train teachers on disability awareness, accommodation and educational techniques to promote the right to inclusive education.[305] Article 24 further requires state parties to provide reasonable and individualized accommodation for people with disabilities to facilitate their effective education.[306]

Canada has signed the Optional Protocol of the CRPD, which means that people can complain directly to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Canada has not signed the optional protocols under the ICESCR and CRC, which would allow for a similar complaint and inquiry procedure. However, Canada and other provinces must provide periodic reports to the United Nations on government initiatives and case law that address the right to education under the ICESCR, CRC and CRPD. The United Nations committees responsible for monitoring implementation of these treaties then provide recommendations.

All of these international human rights instruments highlight the link between the right to education and the ability to participate in society. Literacy is critical to the right to education. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) states that literacy is both a “tool for learning” and a “social practice whose use can increase the voice and participation of communities and individuals in society.”[307] UNESCO also recognizes the impact of failing to acquire literacy: “Literacy is about more than reading and writing…Those who use literacy take it for granted – but those who cannot use it are excluded from much communication in today’s world.”[308]

In Canada, education is an inherent treaty right for First Nations, which both the federal and provincial governments must honour.[309] Particular attention must be paid to the intersectional needs of First Nations students with special needs.[310]

In addition to the Code and Ontario’s treaty commitments, the UN Declaration protects the right to education without discrimination for Indigenous children, including children with disabilities.[311] The UN Declaration recognizes that education not only empowers individuals[312] and improves their economic and social conditions,[313] but also is the means people use to transmit their culture and language. Article 13 provides that Indigenous peoples have “the right to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, languages, oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems and literatures.”[314] Article 14 requires Canada (and Ontario) to take effective steps so that children have access, when possible, to an education in their own culture and provided in their own language.[315] 

In addition to the UN Declaration, several international legal instruments protect the right to education for specific groups such as the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.[316] 

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[30] Moats, Teaching Reading Is Rocket Science, supra note 22 at 10.

[31] R F Hudson et al, “Relations among reading skills and sub-skills and text-level reading proficiency in developing readers” (2012) 25:2 Reading & Writing 483; J K Torgesen & R F Hudson, “Reading fluency: Critical issues for struggling readers,” in S J Samuels & A E Farstrup, eds, What research has to say about fluency instruction, (Newark, DE: International Reading Association, 2006) 130 [Torgesen & Hudson, “Reading fluency”].

[32] This is the diagnostic label in the current version of the American Psychological Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5. American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed), Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2013) [DSM-5]. Specific learning disorders are defined as “Learning disorders interfering with the acquisition and use of one or more of the following academic skills: oral language, reading, written language, mathematics. These disorders affect individuals who otherwise demonstrate at least average abilities essential for thinking or reasoning. As such, Learning Disorders are distinct from Intellectual Developmental Disorders.” This definition goes on to state: “… the diagnostic criteria do not depend upon comparisons with overall IQ and are consistent with the changes in the USA’s reauthorized IDEA regulations (2004) which state that, ‘the criteria adopted by each State must not require the use of a severe discrepancy between intellectual ability and achievement for determining whether a child has a specific learning disability.’”

[33] For a definition of “learning disabilities”, see “Official Definition of LDs” (last visited 10 January 2022), online: Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario ldao.ca/introduction-to-ldsadhd/what-are-lds/official-definition-of-lds/.

[34] “What are reading disorders?” (last modified 5 March 2020), online: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/reading/conditioninfo/disorders.

[35] Adapted from “Definition of Dyslexia” (last visited 10 January 2022), online: International Dyslexia Association dyslexiaida.org/definition-of-dyslexia/. The IDA’s definition of dyslexia was adopted by the IDA Board of Directors on November 12, 2002. It is used in US state education codes, including the codes for New Jersey, Ohio and Utah (ibid). It is also used by the Ontario Psychological Association: Guidelines for Diagnosis and Assessment of Children, Adolescents, and Adults with Learning Disabilities: Consensus Statement and Supporting Documents (last modified March 2020) at 37—38, online (pdf): Ontario Psychological Association psych.on.ca/getmedia/9710b802-aae3-4b6e-a215-789f2bfe59c5/OPA-Guidelines-for-Diagnosis-and-Assessment-of-Learning-Disabilities-03-2020.pdf [OPA, Guidelines for Diagnosis and Assessment of Children, Adolescents, and Adults with Learning Disabilities].

[36] DSM-5, supra note 32 at 67. DSM is a standard classification of “mental disorders” used by health professionals. The DSM-5 elaborates on our understanding of the origins of learning disabilities, including dyslexia: “The biological origin includes an interaction of genetic, epigenetic, and environmental factors, which affect the brain’s ability to perceive or process verbal or non-verbal information efficiently and accurately”

[37] Linda S Siegel and Stewart Ladyman, “A Review of Special Education in British Columbia” (2002) for the Ministry of Education at 29, online: Research Gate
www.researchgate.net/publication/234589880_A_Review_of_Special_Education_in_British_Columbia [Siegel & Ladyman, “A Review of Special Education in British Columbia”], cited in Moore, supra note 5 at para 586.

[38] M J Snowling et al, “Defining and understanding dyslexia: past, present and future” (2020) 46:4 Oxford Rev Education 501.

[39] Thuraya Ahmed Al-Shidhani & Vinita Arora, “Understanding Dyslexia in Children through Human Development Theories” (2012) 12:3 Sultan Qaboos Univ Med J 286, online: National Center for Biotechnology Information ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3529662/.

[40] P G Mathes & C A Denton, “The prevention and identification of reading disability” (2002) 9:3 Seminars in Pediatric Neurology 185.

[41] F R Vellutino et al, “Response to intervention as a vehicle for distinguishing between children with and without reading disabilities: Evidence for the role of kindergarten and first-grade interventions” (2006) 39:2 J. Learning Disabilities 157 [Vellutino et al, “Response to intervention as a vehicle for distinguishing between children with and without reading disabilities”]; D M Scanlon & F R Vellutino, “Prerequisite skills, early instruction, and success in first‐grade reading: Selected results from a longitudinal study” (1996) 2:1 Developmental Disabilities Research Rev 54.

[42] “What Is Specific Learning Disorder?” (August 2021), online: American Psychiatric Association psychiatry.org/patients-families/specific-learning-disorder/what-is-specific-learning-disorder.

[43] Society for Neuroscience, “Dyslexia: What Brain Research Reveals About Reading” (2004) reprinted from Brain Research Success Stories, Society for Neuroscience, online: Learning Disabilities Online ldonline.org/article/10784/; “Frequently Asked Questions” (last visited 12 January 2022), online: International Dyslexia Association dyslexiaida.org/frequently-asked-questions-2/.

[44] In 2013–14, school boards reported that 41.4% (75,543) of exceptional students identified by an IPRC (Identification, Placement, Review Committee) had a learning disability. This is the largest group of the 12 exceptionalities specifically recognized by the Ministry of Education. The Ministry states that it is a reasonable hypothesis that a significant portion of students receiving special education programs and services, but not identified by an IPRC, have learning disabilities (144,987 or 7.1% of total enrollment), Ontario, Ministry of Education, Special Education Update (June 2016) at 5 [Ontario Ministry of Education, Special Education Update].

[45] Approximately 80% of people with learning disabilities have dyslexia; American Academy of Pediatrics, “Joint Statement – Learning Disabilities, Dyslexia and Vision” (2009) 124:2 Pediatrics 837 at 838, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2009-1445 [American Academy of Pediatrics, “Joint Statement”].

[46] Ibid. Other studies have suggested that where a parent has dyslexia, the child has a 40–60% risk of having it and that this risk is increased when other families have it too; see Johannes Schumacher et al, “Genetics of dyslexia: the evolving landscape” (2007) 44:5 J Med Genet 289, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1136/jmg.2006.046516.

[47] OPA, Guidelines for Diagnosis and Assessment of Children, Adolescents, and Adults with Learning Disabilities, supra note 35 at 11.

[48] APA, “What Is Specific Learning Disorder?” supra note 45.

[49] “Understanding Dysgraphia” (last visited 12 January 2022), online: International Dyslexia Association dyslexiaida.org/understanding-dysgraphia/.

[50] Lien Peters et al, “Dyscalculia and dyslexia: Different behavioral, yet similar brain activity profiles during arithmetic” (2018), 18 Neuroimage Clin 663-674, online: Research Gate  https://www.researchgate.net/publication/323546175_Dyscalculia_and_dyslexia_Different_behavioral_yet_similar_brain_activity_profiles_during_arithmetic; Erik G. Willcutt, et al, “Comorbidity Between Reading Disability and Math Disability: Concurrent Psychopathology, Functional Impairment, and Neuropsychological Functioning” (2013) 46:6 J Learn Disabil 500, DOI: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0022219413477476.

[51] International Dyslexia Association, “Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) and Dyslexia” (last visited 12 January 2022), online: dyslexiaida.org/attention-deficithyperactivity-disorder-adhd-and-dyslexia/; Nicolas Langer et al, “Comorbidity of reading disabilities and ADHD: Structural and functional brain characteristics” (2019) 40 Hum Brain Mapp 2677, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/hbm.24552; Javier Gayan et al, “Bivariate linkage scan for reading disability and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder localizes pleiotropic loci” (2005) 46:10 Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 1045, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7610.2005.01447.x.

[52] “The comorbidities are clinically significant because dyslexia is not diagnosed until after a child has been exposed to formal reading instruction, but ADHD, SSD, and LI are all likely to be apparent earlier and can thus indicate a child’s risk for later reading problems,” from Robin L Peterson & Bruce F Pennington, “Seminar: Developmental Dyslexia” (2012) 379:9830 Lancet 1997, online: The Lancet: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(12)60198-6/fulltext.

[53] Louisa Moats, “Defending the "D" Word ... Dyslexia” (5 Oct 2017), online: Voyager SOPRIS Learning voyagersopris.com/blog/edview360/2017/10/05/defending-the-d-word-dyslexia. [Moats, “Defending the “D” Word”].

[54] “Among developmental disorders, dyslexia is one of the most extensively studied and best understood… real progress in our scientific understanding of dyslexia has benefitted from a highly interdisciplinary approach drawing on numerous fields and subfields including developmental psychology, neuroscience, cognitive science, speech science, behavioral and molecular genetics, and clinical psychology. The answers to some basic questions about the disorder, particularly those confined to a single level of analysis, have been reasonably clear for many years.” Robin L Peterson and Bruce F Pennington, “Developmental Dyslexia” (2015) 11 Annu Rev Clin Psychol 283; see also OPA, Guidelines for Diagnosis and Assessment of Children, Adolescents, and Adults with Learning Disabilities supra note 35 at 38.

[55] Ibid.

[56] Moats, “Defending the “D” Word”, supra note 56.

[57] Elizabeth M Wadlington & Patrick Wadlington, “What Educators Really Believe About Dyslexia” (2005) 42:1 Reading Improvement (Project Innovation: Alabama), online: researchgate.net/publication/266219687_What_educators_really_believe_about_dyslexia.

[58] Russell Gersten et al, Assisting Students Struggling with Reading: Response to Intervention and Multi-Tier Intervention in the Primary Grades: IES Practice Guide (Washington, DC: National Centre for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, US Department of Education, 2009) at 4, online: Institute of Education Sciences ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/docs/practiceguide/rti_reading_pg_021809.pdf [Gersten et al, Assisting Students Struggling with Reading].

[59] Lifting the Curtain on EQAO Scores (September 2021) at 2, online (pdf): International Dyslexia Association idaontario.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/LiftingTheCurtainOnEQAO69747.pdf [IDA, Lifting the Curtain on EQAO Scores]. J M Fletcher et al, Learning disabilities: From identification to intervention, 2nd ed (New York, NY: Guilford Publications, 2018) [Fletcher et al, Learning disabilities]; J K Torgesen, “The prevention of reading difficulties” (2002) 40:1 Journal of school psychology 7 [Torgesen, The prevention of reading difficulties”].

[60] Moats, Teaching Reading Is Rocket Science supra note 22 at 4; Vellutino et al, “Response to intervention as a vehicle for distinguishing between children with and without reading disabilities”, supra note 41; Scott Lingley, “Program dramatically improves reading of at-risk students at an early age” (2 October 2017), online: University of Alberta www.ualberta.ca/folio/2017/10/program-dramatically-improves-reading-of-at-risk-students-at-an-early-age.html [Lingley].

[61] Moats, Teaching Reading Is Rocket Science, supra note 22 at 5.

[62] The studies referenced in this section pertain both to dyslexia specifically and learning disabilities more broadly. However, since an estimated 80% of people with learning disabilities have dyslexia (Sally E Shaywitz et al, “Management of dyslexia, its rationale, and underlying neurobiology” (2007) 54:3 Pediatr Clin North Am 609, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pcl.2007.02.013), we have assumed that statistics on the broader category of learning disability are likely to correlate significantly with the subcategory of dyslexia.

[63] Emily M Livingston et al, “Developmental dyslexia: emotional impact and consequences” (2018) 23:2 Australian Journal of Learning Disabilities 107 at 113, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/19404158.2018.1479975 [Livingston et al].

[64] Barbara Riddick, Living with dyslexia: The social and emotional consequences of specific learning difficulties/disabilities, 2nd ed (New York: Routledge, 2010) at 11.

[65] Marita Partanen & Linda S Siegel, “Long-term outcome of the early identification and intervention of reading disabilities” (2014) 27 Reading & writing 665, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-013-9472-1 [Partanen & Siegel, “Long-term outcome of the early identification and intervention of reading disabilities”]; see also: C Juel, “Learning to read and write: A longitudinal study of 54 children from first through fourth grades” (1988), 80:4 Journal of educational Psychology 437 [Juel].

[66] J L Metsala et al, “An examination of reading skills and reading outcomes for youth involved in a crime prevention program” (2017) 33:6 Reading & Writing Quarterly 549 [Metsala et al, “An examination of reading skills and reading outcomes for youth involved in a crime prevention program”]; M J Snowling, J W Adams, C Bowyer-Crane and V Tobin, “Levels of literacy among juvenile offenders: the incidence of specific reading difficulties” (2000), 10:4 Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, 229–241.

[67] Vellutino et al, “Response to intervention as a vehicle for distinguishing between children with and without reading disabilities”, supra note 41; Lingley, supra note 60.

[68] Livingston et al supra note 63 at 26; Manuel Barrera Jr et al, “Early Elementary School Intervention to Reduce Conduct Problems: A Randomized Trial with Hispanic and non-Hispanic children” (2002) 3:2 Prevention Science 83 at 91, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1015443932331.

[69] Livingston et al supra note 63 at 113. For more information on outcomes for other disabilities, see J L Metsala et al, “Emotional knowledge, emotional regulation, and psychosocial adjustment in children with nonverbal learning disabilities” (2017) 23:5 Child Neuropsychology 609; Tanya M Galway & Jamie L Metsala, "Social cognition and its relation to psychosocial adjustment in children with nonverbal learning disabilities" (2011) 44:1 Journal of Learning Disabilities 33.

[70] U.S. Department of Education, Learning to Read, Reading to Learn: Helping Children with Learning Disabilities to Succeed – Information Kit, (Eugene, OR: National Center to Improve the Tools of Educators,1996) at 1, online (pdf): Education Resources Information Center files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED398691.pdf [U.S. Department of Education, Learning to Read, Reading to Learn]; see also Moats, Teaching Reading Is Rocket Science supra note 22 at 4.

[71] Ibid, at 1.

[72] See Moore, supra note 5.

[73] A E Cunningham & Keith E Stanovich, “Early reading acquisition and its relation to reading experience and ability 10 years later” (1997) 33:6 Developmental Psychology 934 [Cunningham & Stanovich, “Early reading acquisition and its relation to reading experience and ability 10 years later”]; Keith E Stanovich, “Matthew effects in reading: Some consequences of individual differences in the acquisition of literacy” (1986), 21:4 Reading Research Quarterly, online (pdf): Psychology Today https://www.psychologytoday.com/files/u81/Stanovich__1986_.pdf [Stanovich, “Matthew effects in reading”]. For a simple explanation of the Matthew Effect, see Marie Rippel, “Is the ‘Matthew Effect’ Affecting Your Child’s Desire to Read?”, online: All About Learning Press https://www.researchgate.net/publication/230853161_Matthew_Effects_in_Reading_Some_Consequences_of_Individual_Differences_in_the_Acquisition_of_Literacy . [Rippel]

[74] Enkeleda Sako, “The Emotional and Social Effects of Dyslexia” (2016) 2:2 European Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, DOI: https://doi.org/10.26417/ejis.v2i2.p233-241 [Sako].

[75] Ibid at 232.

[76] Munirah Shaik Kadir & Alexander Seeshing Yeung, “Academic Self Concept” in V Zeigler-Hill & T K Shackelford, eds, Encylopedia of Personality and Individual Differences (Springer International Publishing AG, 2016) DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-28099-8_1118-1.

[77] Learning Disabilities Association of Canada, “A Literature Framework to Guide the Research Study: Putting a Canadian Face on Learning Disabilities (PACFOLD)” (2005), online (pdf): Putting a Canadian Face on Learning Disabilities www.pacfold.ca/download/Supplementary/Framework.pdf. [Learning Disabilities Association of Canada, “A Literature Framework to Guide the Research Study”]

[78] Michelle L Patterson et al, “Missed opportunities: childhood learning disabilities as early indicators of risk among homeless adults with mental illness in Vancouver, British Columbia” (2012) 2:6 BMJ Open e001586–, online: BMJ Open : https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/2/6/e001586. [Patterson et al, “Missed opportunities”]

[79] Ibid.

[80] Failing to achieve reading proficiency by the end of Grade 1 is associated with an increased risk of drop out. Partanen & Siegel, “Long-term outcome of the early identification and intervention of reading disabilities” supra note 65; see also Kali H Trzesniewski et al, “Revisiting the Association Between Reading Achievement and Antisocial Behavior: New Evidence of an Environmental Explanation From a Twin Study” (2006) 77:1 Child Dev 72, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2006.00857.x [Trzesniewski et al].

[81] Learning Disabilities Association of Canada, “A Literature Framework to Guide the Research Study” supra note 77 at 14; Jay W Rojewski, “Occupational and Educational Aspirations and Attainment of Young Adults With and Without LD 2 Years After High School Completion” (1999) 32:6 Journal of Learning Disabilities 533, online: Sage Journals: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/002221949903200606 [Rojewski].

[82] Learning Disabilities Association of Canada, “A Literature Framework to Guide the Research Study” supra note 77 at 14; see also Jim Hewitt & Marlene Scardamalia, “Design Principles for Distributed Knowledge Building Processes” (1998) 10:1 Educational psychology review 75.

[83] Michael A McNulty, “Dyslexia and the Life Course” (2016) 36:4 J Learn Disabil 363, online: Sage Journals: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/00222194030360040701 [McNulty].

[84] Ibid; Kelsey Lisle & T Wade, “Does the Presence of a Learning Disability Elicit a Stigmatization?” (2014) 4:2 British Journal of Education, Society & Behavioural Science, 211, online (pdf): digitalcommons.bucknell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1729&context=fac_journ.

[85] Michael Kuhne & Judith Wiener, “Stability of social status of children with and without learning disabilities” (2000) 23:1 Learning Disability Quarterly 64; online Sage Journals https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.2307/1511100; Faye Mishna, “Learning Disabilities and Bullying Double Jeopardy” (2003) 36:4 J Learn Disabil 336 at 338, online: Sage Journals https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/00222194030360040501​ [Mishna]; Adel S Alanazi, “Critical Incident Analysis Technique to Examine the Issues faced by the Individuals with Learning Disabilities” (2018) 8:5 World Journal of Education 17 at 20, DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/wje.v8n5p17; Alison L May and C Addison Stone, “Stereotypes of Individuals with Learning Disabilities: Views of College Students With and Without Learning Disabilities” (2010) 43:6 J Learn Disabil 483 at 484, online: Sage Journals https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0022219409355483.

[86] Sako, supra note 74; Cynthia M. Zettler-Greeley, “Understanding Dyslexia” (2018), online: KidsHealth kidshealth.org/en/teens/dyslexia.html [Zettler-Greeley]; Rae Jacobson, “Tips for Recognizing Learning Disorders in the Classroom” (last viewed 13 January 2022), online: Child Mind Institute childmind.org/article/recognizing-learning-disorders-in-the-classroom/ [Jacobson].

[87] Suze Leitão et al., “Exploring the impact of living with dyslexia: The perspectives of children and their parents” (2017) 19:3 International J of Speech-Language Pathology 322, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/17549507.2017.1309068 [Leitão et al]; see also Hazel Denhart, “Deconstructing Barriers: Perceptions of Students Labeled With Learning Disabilities in Higher Education” (2008) 41:6 J of Learn Disabil 483, online: Sage Journals: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0022219408321151 [Denhart].

[88] Leitão et al, supra note 87; Denhart, supra note 87.

[90] Lisette Hornstra et al, “Teacher Attitudes Toward Dyslexia: Effects on Teacher Expectations and the Academic Achievement of Students With Dyslexia” (2010) 43:6 J of Learn Disabil 515, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0022219409355479; see also Ruth Gwernan‐Jones & Robert L Burden, “Are they just lazy? Student teachers’ attitudes about dyslexia” (2010) 16:1 Dyslexia 66, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/dys.393 [Gwernan-Jones & Burden].

[91] Gwernan-Jones & Burden, supra note 90.

[92] Gillian Parkekh et al, “Learning Skills, System Equity, and Implicit Bias Within Ontario, Canada” (2021) 35:3 Educational Policy 395, online: Sage Journals: https://doi.org/10.1177/0895904818813303.

[93] The learning skills and work habits “responsibility,” “independent work,” “initiative,” “organization,” “collaboration” and “self-regulation” are rated as “E-excellent,” “G-Good,” “S-Satisfactory,” “N-Needs improvement.”

[94] Integra, “A Handbook on Learning Disabilities” (2009) at 23, online (pdf): Child Development Institute childdevelop.ca/sites/default/files/files/WAM%20LD%20handbook.pdf [Integra, “A Handbook on Learning Disabilities”].

[95] Malgorzata Gil & Jose da Cosa, “Students with disabilities in mainstream schools: District Level Perspectives on Anti-Bullying Policy and Practice within schools in Alberta” (2010) 25:2 International J of Special Education 148 at 149, online (pdf): files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ890594.pdf [Malgorzata & da Cosa].

[96] Ibid, at 149–150; Learning Disabilities Association of Canada, “A Literature Framework to Guide the Research Study” supra note 77 at 16–17, 21.

[97] Esme Fuller-Thomson & Stephen R Hooper, “The Association Between Childhood Physical Abuse and Dyslexia: Findings From a Population-Based Study” (2015) 30:9 J Interpers Violence 1583, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260514540808 [Fuller-Thomson & Hooper, “The Association Between Childhood Physical Abuse and Dyslexia].

[98] Ibid. 

[99] Mark Dale & Barbara Taylor, “How Adult Learners Make Sense of Their Dyslexia” (2001) 16:7 Disability & Society 997, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09687590120097872.

[100] Audrey L Baumeister et al, “Peer Victimization in Children with Learning Disabilities” (2007) 25:1 Child and Adolescent Social Work J 11, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10560-007-0109-6.

[101] Mark Totten & Perpetua Quigley, “Bullying, School Exclusion and Literacy, Discussion Paper” (16 May 2003) at 5, online (pdf): Canadian Public Health Association cpha.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/resources/antibullying/discussion_paper_e.pdf.

[102] Michael H Kernis, “Measuring Self-Esteem in Context: the Importance of Self-Esteem in Psychological Functioning” (2005) 73:6 J of Personality 1569 at 1570, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6494.2005.00359.x; Melody M Terras et al., “Dyslexia and Psycho-social Functioning: An Exploratory Study of the Role of Self-esteem and Understanding” (2009) 15 Dyslexia 304 at 306–7, 316, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/dys.386 [Terras et al].

[103] McNulty, supra note 82; Blace A Nalavany et al, “Psychosocial Experiences Associated With Confirmed and Self-Identified Dyslexia: A Participant-Driven Concept Map of Adult Perspectives” (2011) 44:1 J Learn Disabil 63, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/002221941037423. [Nalavany et al, “Psychosocial Experiences Associated With Confirmed and Self-Identified Dyslexia”]

[105] Learning Disabilities Association of Canada, “A Literature Framework to Guide the Research Study” supra note 77 at 25.

[106] Sako, supra note 74.

[107] Ibid; Elizabeth Mayfield Arnold et al, “Severity of Emotional and Behavioral Problems Among Poor and Typical Readers” (2005) 33:2 J of Abnormal Child Psych 205, DOI: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10802-005-1828-9; J Carroll & J Iles, “An assessment of anxiety levels in dyslexic students in higher education” (2006) 76:3 British Journal of Educational Psychology 651.

[108] Joseph H Beitchman et al, “Substance Use Disorders in Young Adults With and Without LD: Predictive and Concurrent Relationships” (2001) 34:4 J Learn Disabil 317, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/002221940103400407.

[108] Patterson et al, “Missed opportunities,” supra note 78.

[109] Anne M Undheim, “Dyslexia and psychosocial factors. A follow-up study of young Norwegian adults with a history of dyslexia in childhood” (2003) 57:3 Nordic Journal of Psychiatry 221, DOI: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08039480310001391; Erik G Willcutt & Bruce F Pennington, “Comorbidity of Reading Disability and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Differences by Gender and Subtype” (2000), 33:2 J Learn Disabil 179, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/002221940003300206.

[110] Lucia Margari et al, “Neuropsychopathological comorbidities in learning disorders” (2013) 13:1 BMC Neuro 198 at 3, DOI: https://bmcneurol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2377-13-198; see also Robert M Klassen et al, “Internalizing Problems of Adults With Learning Disabilities: A Meta-Analysis” (2013), 46:4 J Learn Disabil 317, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0022219411422260.

[111] Trzesniewski et al, supra note 80; Sako, supra note 74; Terras et al, supra note 102.

[112] See Stephanie S Daniel et al, “Suicidality, School Dropout, and Reading Problems Among Adolescents” (2006) 39:6 J Learn Disabil 507 at 512, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/00222194060390060301.

[113] Hazel E McBride & Linda S Siegel, “Learning disabilities and adolescent suicide,” (1997) 30:6 J Learn Disabil 652, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/002221949703000609.

[114] Esme Fuller-Thomson et al, “Suicide Attempts Among Individuals With Specific Learning Disorders: An Underrecognized Issue” (2018) 51:3 J of Learn Disabil 283 at 287, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0022219417714776 [Fuller-Thomson et al, “Suicide Attempts Among Individuals With Specific Learning Disorders”].

[115] Ibid.

[116] Irving Rootman & Deborah Gordon-El-Bihbety, “A Vision for a Health Literate Canada Report of the Expert Panel on Health Literacy” (2008) at 20, online (pdf): Canadian Public Health Association cpha.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/resources/healthlit/report_e.pdf [Rootman & Gordon-El-Bihbety].

[117] Rootman & Gordon-El-Bihbety, supra note 116.

[118] Joseph Sanfilippo et al, “Reintroducing Dyslexia: Early Identification and Implications for Pediatric Practice” (2020) 146:1 Pediatrics, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2019-3046 [Sanfilippo et al].

[119] “Literacy: Why it Matters” (February 2013), online (pdf): Community Literacy of Ontario communityliteracyofontario.ca/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/literacy_why_it_matters.pdf [Community Literacy of Ontario, “Literacy”].

[120] Statistics Canada uses the term “Aboriginal” or “Indigenous” to refer to individuals identifying themselves as “First Nations people, Métis or Inuit.”

[121] Andrew Heisz et al (Statistics Canada), Insights on Canadian Society: the association between skills and low income, Catalogue No 75-006-X (Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 24 February 2016) at 2, online (pdf): Statistics Canada www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/en/pub/75-006-x/2016001/article/14322-eng.pdf?st=pQh8VcQW. [Heisz et al]

[122] “Five-Year Graduation Rate” (last modified 25 March 2020), online: Ontario Ministry of Education app.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/bpr/allBoards.asp?chosenIndicator=11.

[123] Ontario Ministry of Education, Strengthening Our Learning Journey: Third Progress Report on the implementation of the Ontario First Nation, Métis, and Inuit Education Policy Framework (2018) at 70, online: Ontario, Ministry of Education https://www.ontario.ca/page/strengthening-our-learning-journey-third-progress-report-implementation-ontario-first-nation [Ontario, Ministry of Education, Strengthening Our Learning Journey].

[124] Community Literacy of Ontario, “Literacy,” supra note 119.

[125] The Economic & Social Cost of Illiteracy: A White Paper by the World Literacy Foundation (2018) at 2, online (pdf): World Literacy Foundation https://worldliteracyfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/TheEconomicSocialCostofIlliteracy-2.pdf [World Literacy Foundation].

[126] Heisz et al, supra note 121 at 1.

[127] Community Literacy of Ontario, “Literacy,” supra note 119; see also Rootman & Gordon-El-Bihbety supra note 116 at 20.

[128] Livingston et al supra note 63 at 126; see also Joost de Beer et al, “Factors influencing work participation of adults with developmental dyslexia: a systematic review” (2014) 14:77 BMC Public Health, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-14-77; World Literacy Foundation supra note 125 at 2.

[129] Blace A Nalavany et al, “The relationship between emotional experience with dyslexia and work self‐efficacy among adults with dyslexia” (2018) 24:1 Dyslexia 17, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/dys.1575.

[130] Learning Disabilities Association of Canada, “A Literature Framework to Guide the Research Study”, supra note 77.

[131] David L Dickinson & Roelant L Verbeek, “Wage differentials between college graduates with and without learning disabilities,” (2002) 35:2 J Learn Disabil 175, DOI: https://doi/10.1177/002221940203500208. See also Simonetta Longhi, The disability pay gap (2017), online (pdf) Equality and Human Rights Commission equalityhumanrights.com/sites/default/files/research-report-107-the-disability-pay-gap.pdf.

[132] Mishna, supra note 85 at 338.

[133] Patterson et al, supra note 78.

[134] Stephen Gaetz et al, “Without a Home: The National Youth Homelessness Survey – Executive Summary” (2016) at 10, online (pdf): Canadian Observatory on Homelessness homelesshub.ca/sites/default/files/attachments/WithoutAHome-execsummary.pdf.

[135] Melanie A Barwick & Linda S Siegel, “Learning Difficulties in Adolescent Clients of a Shelter for Runaway and Homeless Street Youths” (1996) 6:4 J of Research on Adolescence 649 at 657, online: Research Gate www.researchgate.net/publication/234633209_Learning_Difficulties_in_Adolescent_Clients_of_a_Shelter_for_Runaway_and_Homeless_Street_Youths.

[136] May Lindgren et al, “Dyslexia and AD/HD among Swedish Prison Inmates” (2002) 3:1 J of Scandinavian studies in Criminology and Crime Prevention 84, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/140438502762467227.

[137] Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, “Literacy and Policing in Canada: Target Crime with Literacy: The Link between Low Literacy and Crime” (last visited 13 January 2022) at c 2, sheet 2, online (pdf): Copian en.copian.ca/library/research/police/factsheets/factsheets.pdf [Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, “Literacy and Policing in Canada”].

[138] See for example: Mary K Evans et al, “Learning Disabilities and Delinquent Behaviors among Adolescents: A Comparison of Those with and without Comorbidity” (2014) 36:3 Deviant behavior 200, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/01639625.2014.924361; Jimmy Jensen et al, “Dyslexia among Swedish prison inmates in relation to neuropsychology and personality” (1999), 5:5 J of the International Neuropsychology Society 452, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1355617799555070; K C Moody et al, “Prevalence of dyslexia among Texas prison inmates” (2000) 96:6 Texas Medicine 69, online: europepmc.org/article/med/10876375; Sanfilippo et al, supra note 118.

[139] Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, “Police and Literacy Awareness Resource Manual” (2008) at 20, online: Literacy and the Police policeabc.ca/images/stories/CACP_workbook_EN_FINAL.pdf [Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, “Police and Literacy Awareness Resource Manual”].

[140] Ibid.

[141] Ibid.

[142] Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, “Police and Literacy Awareness Resource Manual,” supra note 139 at 8, 12, 13, 26–27, 36.

[143] Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, “Literacy and Policing in Canada,” supra note 137 at c 2, fact sheet 2.

[144] Marco Carotenuto et al, “Maternal Stress and Coping Strategies in Developmental Dyslexia: An Italian Multicenter Study” (2017) 8 Front Psychiatry 295, DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2017.00295 [Carotenuto et al]; see also Lamk Al-Lamki, “Dyslexia: Its impact on the Individual, Parents and Society” (2012) 23:3 Sultan Qaboos Univ Med J 269, DOI: https://doi.org/10.12816/0003139 [Al-Lamki].

[145] Kerrie Delany, “The Experience of Parenting a Child with Dyslexia: An Australian Perspective” (2017) 7:1 The J of Student Engagement at 100, online (pdf): University of Wollongong Australia ro.uow.edu.au/jseem/vol7/iss1/6 [Delany].

[146] Nalavany et al, “Psychosocial Experiences Associated With Confirmed and Self-Identified Dyslexia,” supra note 103 at 64–65; Carotenuto et al, supra note 144 at 2; see also Al-Lamki, supra note 144 at 270.

[147] Alice V Mangan, The Influence Of A Child's Learning Disability On A Parent's Psychological Experience: A Comparison Of Parents With And Without Learning Disabilities (PhD Dissertation, City University of New York, Graduate Faculty in Psychology, 2015) at 78–9, online (pdf): academicworks.cuny.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2050&context=gc_etds.

[148] Lily Dyson, “Unanticipated Effects of Children with Learning Disabilities on their Families” (2010) 33:1 Learning Disability Quarterly 43 at 48, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/073194871003300104 [Dyson].

[149] Ibid, at 45; Delany, supra note 144 at 100; Learning Disabilities Association of Canada, “A Literature Framework to Guide the Research Study,” supra note 77 at 50.

[150] Livingston et al, supra note 63 at 122–124; Learning Disabilities Association of Canada, “A Literature Framework to Guide the Research Study,” supra note 77 at 50.

[151] Livingston et al, supra note 63 at 123.

[152] Delany, supra note 144 at 100.

[153] Al-Lamki, supra note 144 at 270.

[154] Cameron Crawford (Roeher Institute), “Learning Disabilities in Canada: Economic Costs to Individuals, Families and Society” (last modified 2007),online (pdf): Learning Disabilities Association of Canada www.ldac-acta.ca/downloads/pdf/research/5B%20-Economic%20Costs%20of%20LD%20-%20Jan%202002%20RJune_2007.pdf [Crawford].

[155] Ibid, at 8.

[156] Ibid at 23. The report estimates that the direct and indirect costs of a learning disability from birth to retirement is $1.982 million per person with a learning disability. Taking a total Canadian population of 31,081,900 and estimating that 5% of the population, or 1,554,095 Canadians, have a learning disability, the report estimates that the total cost for the 5% of people with a learning disability, from birth to retirement, is approximately $3,080 billion. It estimates that that the present value cost (the current value of a future sum of money) at a 5 per cent discount rate is about $707 billion in year 2000 dollars.

[157] UK, Select Committee on Education and Skills, Minutes of Evidence: Memorandum submitted by the Dyslexia Institute (6 July 2006), at s 3.2, online: Parliament UK publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmselect/cmeduski/478/6031504.htm.

[158] Olena Hankivsky, Cost Estimates of Dropping Out of High School in Canada (December 2008), online (pdf): e Canadian Council on Learning (CCL):

[159] Janet Lane & T Scott Murray, Literacy Lost: Canada’s Basic Skills Shortfall (December 2018) at 2, online (pdf): Canadian West Foundation cwf.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/2018-12-CWF_LiteracyLost_Report_WEB-1.pdf. [Lane, Literacy Lost]

[160] Ibid, at 5.

[161] Ibid, at 14.

[162] Ibid, at 2.

[163] The Expert Panel defines health literacy as “The ability to access, understand, evaluate and communicate information as a way to promote, maintain and improve health in a variety of settings across the life-course” at p. 22 and discusses the relationship between literacy and health literacy throughout the report; see Rootman & Gordon-El-Bihbety, supra note 116.

[164] Rootman & Gordon-El-Bihbety, supra note 116 at 22.

[165] Moore, supra note 5 at para 585.

[166] Siegel & Ladyman, “A Review of Special Education in British Columbia,” supra note 37 at 29.

[167] “The Equalizer: How Education creates Fairness for Children in Canada” (30 October 2018), online: People for Education peopleforeducation.ca/our-work/the-equalizer-how-education-creates-fairness-for-children-in-canada/.

[168] Moats, Teaching Reading Is Rocket Science, supra note 22 at 9; see also Joan F Beswick & Elizabeth A Sloat, “Early Literacy Success: A Matter of Social Justice” (2010) 46:2 Education Canada, online (pdf): EdCan Network www.edcan.ca/wp-content/uploads/EdCan-2006-v46-n2-Beswick.pdf [Beswick & Sloat, “Early Literacy Success”]; “Native Literacy at a Glance” (last visited 13 January 2022), online: Ontario Native Literacy Coalition onlc.ca/literacy-facts/; see also Pierre Lefebvre, “Socioeconomic Gradient Literacy and Numeracy Skills of 15-year-olds across Canadian Provinces and Years using the PISA Surveys (2000-2012)” (2016) Research Group on Human Capital and Department of Economics Working Paper No 16-02, online: Ideas ideas.repec.org/p/grc/wpaper/16-03.html.

[169] Moats, Teaching Reading Is Rocket Science, supra note 22 at 9.

[170] Beswick & Sloat, “Early Literacy Success,” supra note 168.

[171] Ibid.

[172] Ibid.

[173] Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 10 December 1948, GA Res 217A (III), UNGAOR, 3rd Sess, Supp No 13, UN Doc A/810 [UDHR].

[174] Ibid at art 26.

[175] International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 19 December 1966, 999 UNTS 171 art 18 (entered into force 23 March 1976, accession by Canada 19 May 1976) [ICCPR].

[176] International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 16 December 1966, 993 UNTS 3 arts 2, 13–14 (entered into force 3 January 1976) [ICESCR].

[177] Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment 13 on the right to education, UNCESCR, 21st Sess, UN Doc E/C.12/1999/10 (1999) at para 1, online: United Nations Human Rights www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Education/Training/Compilation/Pages/d)GeneralCommentNo13Therighttoeducation(article13)(1999).aspx.

[178] See for example Convention on the Rights of the Child, 20 November 1989, 1577 UNTS 3 art 23 (entered into force 2 September 1990) [CRC]; Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 13 December 2006, 2515 UNTS 3, art 24 (entered into force 3 May 2008, GA Res 61/106, UNGA, 61st Sess, Supp no 49, UN Doc A/RES/61/106, Annex I) [CRPD]; Human Rights Code, RSO 1990, c H.19 [Code].

[179] See for example ICSER, supra note 176 art 13 (“they further agree that education shall enable all persons to participate effectively in a free society”); CRPD, supra note 178 art 23 (“States Parties recognize that a mentally or physically disabled child should enjoy a full and decent life, in conditions which ensure dignity, promote self-reliance and facilitate the child's active participation in the community”); CRPD, supra note 178 art 24 (“States Parties shall ensure an inclusive education system at all levels and lifelong learning directed to… Enabling persons with disabilities to participate effectively in a free society”); Human Rights Code, supra note 3 at Preamble (“…having as its aim the creation of a climate of understanding and mutual respect for the dignity and worth of each person so that each person feels a part of the community and able to contribute fully to the development and well-being of the community and the Province”).

[180] Education Act, RSO 1990, c E.2 [Education Act].

[181] Education Act, s 0.1(1)–(2).

[182] Education Act, s. 0.1(3).

[183] See Davidson, supra note 4 paras 4, 34: “The Minister fulfills his or her duties through providing a regulatory framework within which individual school boards exercise their responsibilities in the delivery of special education programs and services. This framework is established through such measures as regulations, policy and program memoranda and mandatory standards.” See also list of recommendations to the Ministry of Education and respective follow-up reports to the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario: 2001 Annual Report (29 November 2001) at s. 3.06 (“Special Education Grants to School Boards”), online (pdf): Office of the Auditor General auditor.on.ca/en/content/annualreports/arbyyear/ar2001.html; [Auditor General, 2001 Annual Report]; 2003 Annual Report (2 November 2003) at s. 3.05 (“Curriculum Development and Implementation”), online (pdf): Office of the Auditor General auditor.on.ca/en/content/annualreports/arbyyear/ar2003.html [Auditor General, 2003 Annual Report]; 2008 Annual Report (8 December 2008) at s. 3.14 (“Special Education”), online (pdf): Office of the Auditor General auditor.on.ca/en/content/annualreports/arbyyear/ar2008.html [Auditor General, 2008 Annual Report]; 2017 Annual Report (6 December 2017) at ss. 3.08 vol 1, (“Ministry Funding and Oversight of School Boards”) & 3.12 (“School Boards’ Management of Financial and Human Resources”),  online: Office of the Auditor General auditor.on.ca/en/content/annualreports/arbyyear/ar2017.html [Auditor General, 2017 Annual Report].

[184] Education Act¸ s 8(1)(2).

[185] Education Act¸ s 1(1).

[186] Education Act, s 8(1)(1).

[187] RRO 1990, Reg 306.

[188] Education Act, s 8(1)(6).

[189] Education Act, s 8(1)(24).

[190] Education Act, s 13.

[191] Education Act, s 68. Six of the schools are hospital-based school authorities established to provide programs for students with complex medical needs who cannot attend regular school for medical reasons. These schools operate in hospitals and treatment centres. The other four school authorities manage schools in remote and sparsely populated regions.

[192] Education Act, s 8(3)(a); Ontario, Ministry of Education, Early Identification of Children’s Learning Needs (Policy Program Memorandum No 11), revised 1982.

[193] RRO 1990, Reg 306.

[194] Education Act, s 268.

[195] RRO 1990, Reg 298, s 11.

[196] RRO 1990, Reg 298, s 20.

[197] RRO 1990, Reg 298, s 19.

[198] Special Education in Ontario, Kindergarten to Grade 12: Policy and Resource Guide, Draft (2017), at A12, online (pdf): Ontario Ministry of Education edu.gov.on.ca/eng/document/policy/os/onschools_2017e.pdf [Ontario Ministry of Education, Special Education in Ontario].

[199]  “The Identification, Placement and Review Committee” (last modified 26 July 2007), online: Ontario, Ministry of Education edu.gov.on.ca/eng/general/elemsec/speced/identifi.html; RRO, Reg 298, s. 31.

[200] Ontario Ministry of Education, “Full-day kindergarten,” supra note 14.

[201] The Ontario Ministry of Education introduced the concept of lead literacy teachers in their 2003 report: Early Reading Strategy: The Report of the Expert Panel on Early Reading in Ontario (2003) at 58, online (pdf): Ontario Ministry of Education edu.gov.on.ca/eng/document/reports/reading/reading.pdf [Ontario Ministry of Education, Early Reading Strategy].

[202] Jacqueline Lynch & Steve Alsop, “The effectiveness of literacy coaches” in What Works? Research into Practice Monograph #6 (The Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat & Ontario Deans of Education, 2007), online (pdf): CiteseerX: https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=

[203] Written submission from the Ontario Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists to the OHRC (March 2020) as part of the Right to Read Inquiry.

[204] Written submission from the Association of Chief Psychologists with Ontario School Boards to the OHRC (April 2020) as part of the Right to Read Inquiry.

[205] Ontario College of Teachers Act, SO 1996, c 12.

[206] Teaching Profession Act, RSO 1990, c T2.

[207] “Bylaw 8.1 Directives” (last visited 25 January 2022), online: ETFO/FEEO https://www.etfo.ca/about-us/governance/bylaws.

[208] “Policy Statements,” (last visited 25 January 2022), online: ETFO/FEEO etfo.ca/aboutetfo/governance/pages/policystatements.aspx; Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, “Policies and Procedures 2021-2022” (last visited 26 January 2022), online: OSSTF/FEESO https://www.osstf.on.ca/about-us/constitution-bylaws-policies.aspx.

[209] Policy Program Memorandum 11 on Early Identification of Children’s Learning Needs (1982), online: Ontario Ministry of Education ontario.ca/document/education-ontario-policy-and-program-direction/policyprogram-memorandum-11 [PPM 11]; Policy Program Memorandum 8 on the Identification of and Program Planning for Students with Learning Disabilities (26 August 2014), online: Ontario, Ministry of Education ontario.ca/document/education-ontario-policy-and-program-direction/policyprogram-memorandum-8 [PPM 8]; Ontario Ministry of Education, Special Education in Ontario, supra note 198 at C6.

[210] Education Act, s 8(3).

[211] Education Act, s 1.

[212] See for example, Ontario Ministry of Education, Special Education in Ontario, supra note 198.

[213] For list of subcategories and definition of “learning disability”, see Ibid, at A14.

[214] Memorandum from Barry Finlay (Director, Special Education Policy and Programs Branch) to Directors of Education et al) regarding “Categories of Exceptionalities” (19 December 2011), online: Ontario, Ministry of Education edu.gov.on.ca/eng/general/elemsec/speced/2011CategoryException.pdf.

[215] Ibid.

[216] PPM8, supra note 209 at 4.

[217] O Reg 181/98, s 10.

[218] O Reg 181/98. The IPRC may also refer the student to a provincial committee for consideration of eligibility for admission to one of the provincial or demonstration schools.

[219] O Reg 181/98, s 21(4)(b).

[220] O Reg 181/98, s 26.

[221] O Reg 181/98, s 6(2)-(8), 8.

[222] Ontario Ministry of Education, Special Education in Ontario, supra note 198 at E6, online: www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/document/policy/os/onschools_2017e.pdf.

[223] O Reg. 181/98 s 6(3).

[224] Policy/Program Memorandum No 156: Supporting Transitions for Students with Special Education Needs (1 February 2013), online: Ontario Ministry of Education ontario.ca/document/education-ontario-policy-and-program-direction/policyprogram-memorandum-156 [PPM 156]; Policy/Program Memorandum No 140: Incorporating Methods Of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) Into Programs For Students With Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) (17 May 2007), online: Ontario Ministry of Education www.edu.gov.on.ca/extra/eng/ppm/140.html [PPM 140]; Ontario Ministry of Education, Special Education in Ontario, supra note 198.

[225] The standards specifically state that this requirement is for all students who have an IEP, whether or not they have been identified as exceptional by the IRPC, including those identified as exceptional solely on the basis of giftedness. Note that this adds more requirements than what is set out in legislation under the Education Act. See PPM 156, supra note 224.

[226] O Reg 181/98, s 6(2); Ontario Ministry of Education, Special Education in Ontario, supra note 198. See also Ontario, Ministry of Education, Individual Education Plans: Standards for Development, Program Planning and Implementation (2000), online: Ontario Association for Families of Children with Communication Disorders oafccd.com/documents/IEPstandards.pdf [Ontario Ministry of Education, Individual Education Plans].

[227] The Ministry of Education reports that due to a variety of factors, including COVID-19, this review has not taken place in recent years.

[228] Ontario Schools: Kindergarten to Grade 12 Policy and Program Requirements (2016) at 41, online Ontario Ministry of Education edu.gov.on.ca/eng/document/policy/os/onschools_2016e.pdf.

[229] The Individual Education Plan: A Resource Guide (2004) at 26, online: Ontario Ministry of Education edu.gov.on.ca/eng/general/elemsec/speced/guide/resource/iepresguid.pdf. An IEP must also be developed as supporting documentation, if an Intensive Support Amount (ISA) funding claim is submitted by a school board on behalf of a student who has not been identified as exceptional by an IPRC, but who is receiving a special education program and services (Ontario Ministry of Education, Individual Education Plans, supra note 226).

[230] Ontario Ministry of Education, Special Education in Ontario, supra note 198 at E11.

[231] Human Rights Code.

[232] Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Part 1 of the Constitution Act, 1982, being Schedule B to the Canada Act 1982 (UK), c 11 [Charter].

[233] Moore, supra note 5 at paras 28, 48.

[234] Eaton v Brant County Board of Education, [1997] 1 SCR 241 at para 69, 142 DLR 4th 385 [Eaton]. However, the SCC found that segregated accommodation was in the child’s best interests in this case, noting that this was one of those unusual cases where segregation was a more appropriate accommodation.

[235] Human Rights Code, s 10(1)(c).

[236] Human Rights Code, s 1.

[237] Human Rights Code, s 12.

[238] Human Rights Code, s 8.

[239] Human Rights Code, s 47(2).

[240] For example, while the Ministry of Education has devised its own framework for identifying “exceptional pupils,” it is the Ontario Human Rights Code and human rights case law (see for example DS v London District Catholic School Board, 2012 HRTO 786 [DS v London Catholic] at para 62) that establish that education providers have a legal duty to accommodate the disability-related needs of students to the point of undue hardship. This legal duty exists whether or not a student with a disability falls within the Ministry’s definition of “exceptional pupil,” has gone through a formal IPRC process, or has an IEP.

[241] See for example DS v London Catholic, supra note 240 at para 62.

[242] Charter, s 15.

[243] Charter, s 1.

[244] Human Rights Code, s 9.

[245] Human Rights Code, s 17.

[246] For detailed information on how to identify systemic discrimination, see section 4.1 of the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Policy and guidelines on racism and racial discrimination (2005), online: Ontario Human Rights Commission ohrc.on.ca/sites/default/files/attachments/Policy_and_guidelines_on_racism_and_racial_discrimination.pdf [OHRC, Policy and guidelines on racism and racial discrimination].

[247] One author noted, “…the philosophical and ideological foundations upon which discrimination against disabled people is justified are well entrenched within the core institutions of society.” See: Colin Barnes, “A Brief History of Discrimination and Disabled People,” in The Disability Studies Reader, 3rd ed., Lennerd J. Davis, ed. (New York: Routledge, 2010) at 31. While the author’s observations relate to discrimination against people with disabilities in the United Kingdom, it can be argued that much of what he describes pertains to the situation for people with disabilities in Canada.

[248] In Moore, supra note 5 at para 59, the SCC reaffirmed its earlier definition of systemic discrimination set out in its seminal 1987 decision Canadian National Railway Co v Canada (Human Rights Commission), [1987] 1 SCR 1114 [CNR] as “practices or attitudes that have, whether by design or impact, the effect of limiting an individual’s or a group’s right to the opportunities generally available because of attributed rather than actual characteristics” at 1138–1139. The OHRC uses “systemic discrimination” when referring to individual institutions, or a system of institutions, that fall under the jurisdiction of the Code (e.g. the education system).

[249] CNR, supra note 248 at 1138–1139.

[250] The Universal Design for Learning framework was first developed by David Rose, Ed.D. of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Centre for Applied Special Technology (CAST) in the 1990s. For more information, see Tracey E Hall et al, eds, Universal Design for Learning in the Classroom: Practical Applications (New York: Guilford Press, 2012); CRPD, supra note 178 states at Article 2, “‛Universal design’ means the design of products, environments, programmes and services to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. ‘Universal design’ shall not exclude assistive devices for particular groups of persons with disabilities where this is needed.”

[251] Eaton, supra note 234 at para 67.

[252] See Council of Canadians with Disabilities v VIA Rail Canada Inc, 2007 SCC 15 at para 186: “…while human rights principles include an acknowledgment that not every barrier can be eliminated, they also include a duty to prevent new ones, or at least, not knowingly to perpetuate old ones where preventable.”

[253] Moore, supra note 5 at para 52. See, for example, LB v Toronto District School Board, 2015 HRTO 1622; LB v Toronto District School Board, 2016 HRTO 336 (Reconsideration decision); LB v Toronto District School Board, 2017 ONSC 2301 (Judicial review on the issue of remedy); Tang v McMaster University, 2015 HRTO 551 (Reconsideration decision); RB v Keewatin-Patricia District School Board, 2013 HRTO 1436 (Reconsideration denied); JF v Waterloo Catholic District School Board, 2017 HRTO 1121 (note that the Tribunal found that the respondent had not failed in its procedural duty to accommodate in this case).

[254] Providence Health Care v Dunkley, 2016 BCSC 1383 at para 132: The Tribunal found that the cost estimates put forward were likely severely inflated and other less costly options as well as funding arrangements (including outside sources of funding) were not considered.

[255] Human Rights Code, ss 11(2), 17(2). In British Columbia (Public Service Employee Relations Commission) v BCGSEU, [1999] 3 SCR 3, 176 DLR (4th) 1 [Meiorin], the SCC stated at para 63 that “The various factors [in assessing undue hardship] are not entrenched, except to the extent that they are expressly included or excluded by statute” [emphasis added].

[256] British Columbia (Superintendent of Motor Vehicles) v British Columbia (Council of Human Rights), [1999] 3 SCR 868 at para 41, “One must be wary of putting too low a value on accommodating the disabled. It is all too easy to cite increased cost as a reason for refusing to accord the disabled equal treatment”).

[257] Ontario has acknowledged this in its own policies: “Because the Ontario Public Service is such a large organization with access to so many resources, it would be extremely difficult to meet this threshold. In other words, accommodations should almost never be denied because of cost.” Ontario, Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Undue Hardship: Providing Accommodation Short of Undue Hardship (2015), cited in Independent Review of Ontario Corrections, Independent Advisor on Corrections, Segregation in Ontario, Independent Review of Ontario Corrections (Toronto: Queen’s Printer for Ontario, 2017) at Appendix B.

[258] Moore, supra note 5 at para 65; see Gamache v York University, 2013 HRTO 693 at para 17 that the responsibility to provide accommodation for students with disabilities rests with the institution as a whole, not just a particular department: “It is no answer to point to limited resources that were allocated by the University to a particular service it provided.” The United Nations’ Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has also stated: “The availability of accommodations should be considered with respect to a larger pool of educational resources available in the education system and not limited to resources available at the academic institution in question; transfer of resources within the system should be possible”: see Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, General Comment No 4 (2016) on the right to inclusive education UN Doc CRPD/C/GC/4 (2016) at para 30, online: UNCHR tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CRPD/C/GC/4&Lang=en [CRPD, General Comment No 4].

[259] “Business inconvenience” is not a defence to the duty to accommodate. In amending the Code in 1988, the Ontario Legislature considered and rejected “business inconvenience” as a possible enumerated factor in assessing undue hardship. If there are costs attributable to decreased productivity, efficiency or effectiveness, they can be taken into account in assessing undue hardship under the cost standard, providing they are quantifiable and related to the proposed accommodation.

[260] Meiorin, supra note 255. In McDonald v Mid-Huron Roofing, 2009 HRTO 1306, in the context of a workplace, the HRTO stated at para. 43: “If a respondent wishes to cite morale in the workplace as an element of undue hardship, it should also be able to cite its own efforts to quell inaccurate rumours that accommodation is being requested unreasonably.” It is the OHRC’s position that this principle also applies in education. See also Backs v Ottawa (City), 2011 HRTO 959 at para 58, where the HRTO disregarded morale issues as a factor in the undue hardship analysis.

[261] See Qureshi v G4S Security Services, 2009 HRTO 409 at para 35. The issue of customer, third-party and employee preference is also discussed in Judith Keene, Human Rights in Ontario, 2nd ed. (Toronto: Carswell, 1992) at 204–5.

[262] The Code prevails over collective agreements. Collective agreements or other contractual arrangements cannot act as a bar to providing accommodation. To allow otherwise would be to permit the parties to contract out of the provisions of the Code under the umbrella of a private agreement, and would run counter to the purposes of the Code. For more detailed information, see OHRC Policy on ableism and discrimination based on disability, supra note 1 at s. 9.1, online: Ontario Human Rights Commission www.ohrc.on.ca/en/policy-ableism-and-discrimination-based-disability/9-undue-hardship.

[263] Note that in rare cases the HRTO has indirectly considered other factors as part of costs or health and safety. See, for example, Munroe v Padulo Integrated Inc, 2011 HRTO 1410; Wozenilek v City of Guelph, 2010 HRTO 1652; Espey v London (City), 2009 HRTO 271.

[264] See OHRC, Policy on accessible education for students with disabilities, supra note 7 at s 8.7 and Appendix A: Recommendations to improve education outcomes for students with disabilities, recommendations 17, 26, online (pdf): Ontario Human Rights Commission www.ohrc.on.ca/sites/default/files/Policy%20on%20accessible%20education%20for%20students%20with%20disabilities_FINAL_EN.pdf.

[265] In RB v Keewatin-Patricia District School Board, 2013 HRTO 1436 [RB] at para 257, the HRTO recognized the importance of communication throughout the accommodation process: “…communication is an integral part of education, especially for a student with high needs.”

[266] Central Okanagan School District No. 23 v Renaud, [1992] 2 SCR 970 at para 43, 95 DLR (4th) 577 [Renaud].

[267] For example, in RB, (supra note 265), the HRTO stated: “a school board has a high burden to prove it cannot educate a student because of the conduct of a parent” (at paras 254, 259). In its reconsideration decision, the HRTO clarified that for the parent’s conduct to be relevant, “it must relate to the respondent’s ability to accommodate [the student];” see RB v Keewatin-Patricia District School Board, 2013 HRTO at para 31. See also LB v Toronto District School Board, 2015 HRTO 132 at paras 20(d), 139.

[268] Moore, supra note 5 at at paras 47–48.

[269] Ibid at paras 10, 32—66.

[270] Ibid at paras 5, 32.

[273] Ibid at para 22.

[274] Eaton, supra note 234 at para 69.

[275] The Ontario Human Rights Commission has explored this “contextualized” or “intersectional” approach to discrimination analysis at length in its discussion paper An intersectional approach to discrimination: Addressing multiple grounds in human rights claims (2001), online: Ontario Human Rights Commission ohrc.on.ca/en/intersectional-approach-discrimination-addressing-multiple-grounds-human-rights-claims.

[276] Egan v Canada, [1995] 2 SCR 513, 124 DLR (4th) 609 [Egan].

[277] Corbiere v Canada, [1999] 2 SCR 203, 173 DLR (4th) 1 [Corbiere].

[278] Egan at 551–52, 124 DLR (4th) 609, L’Heureux-Dubé J, dissenting.

[279] Corbiere at para 73, L’Heureux-Dubé J, concurring.

[280] Asfaha-Negusse v Toronto (City), 2019 HRTO 1650. See also Baylis-Flannery v DeWilde (Tri Community Physiotherapy), 2003 HRTO 28, in which the Tribunal found that the serious forms of discrimination Ms. Baylis-Flannery endured, with respect to her race and her sex, were intersectional in nature. See also Hogan v Ontario (Health and Long-Term Care), 2006 HRTO 32 and Falkiner v Ontario (Minister of Community and Social Services), [2002] OR (3d) 481, OJ No 1771 [Falkiner]. At paragraph 72 of Falkiner, the Court of Appeal for Ontario found:

Because the respondents' equality claim alleges differential treatment based on an interlocking set of personal characteristics, I think their general approach is appropriate. Multiple comparator groups are needed to bring into focus the multiple forms of differential treatment alleged.

[281] For example, the Toronto District School Board reported in 2013, students who identify as Black are the largest racial category represented in congregated Special Education schools (over doubly represented at 30.2%), and are notably under-represented in Gifted, International Baccalaureate (IB), Advanced Placement (AP) and Elite Athlete programs. See “Selected School-Wide Structures: An Overview” Fact Sheet 9 (Toronto: Toronto District School Board, December 2013) at 3, online (pdf): Toronto District School Board tdsb.on.ca/portals/research/docs/reports/school-widestructuresanoverview%20fs-final.pdf. See also “Selected In-School Programs: An Overview” Fact Sheet 8 (Toronto: Toronto District School Board, December 2013) at 3, online (pdf): Toronto District School Board tdsb.on.ca/Portals/research/docs/reports/In-SchoolProgramsAnOverview%20FS_%20FINAL.pdf. The OHRC has also heard from members of the community that Indigenous students are similarly over-represented in special education placements.

[282] Trauma-Informed Schools (2016) 4 OFIFC Research Series at 3, online: Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres ofifc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Trauma-Informed-Schools-Report-2016.pdf [Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres: Trauma-Informed Schools].

[283] Ena Chadha et al, Review of the Peel District School Board (28 February 2020), online (pdf): Ontario Ministry of Education edu.gov.on.ca/eng/new/review-peel-district-school-board-report-en.pdf. [Chadha et al].

[284] The opportunity to succeed: Achieving barrier-free education for students with disabilities - Consultation Report (2003), online: Ontario Human Rights Commission www.ohrc.on.ca/sites/default/files/attachments/The_opportunity_to_succeed%3A_Achieving_barrier-free_education_for_students_with_disabilities.pdf. Consultees also reported that students with disabilities from low-income families encounter unique hurdles in the special education system. Parents of these children often find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to take time out from work to advocate on their child’s behalf.

[285] CRPD, General Comment No 4, supra note 258 at para 46: “Intersectional discrimination and exclusion pose significant barriers to the realization of the right to education for women and girls with disabilities. States parties must identify and remove those barriers, including gender-based violence and the lack of value placed on the education of women and girls, and put in place specific measures to ensure that the right to education is not impeded by gender and/or disability discrimination, stigma or prejudice. Harmful gender and/or disability stereotypes in textbooks and curricula must be eliminated. Education plays a vital role in combating traditional notions of gender that perpetuate patriarchal and paternalistic societal frameworks.”

[286] Human Rights Code, s 30.

[287] UDHR, supra note 173.

[288] ICESCR, supra note 176.

[289] CRC, supra note 178.

[290] CRPD, supra note 178 at art 2.

[291] United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, GA Res 61/295, UNGAOR, 61st Sess, UN Doc A/RES/61/295 (2007) [UN Declaration].

[292] Baker v Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), [1999] 2 SCR 817 at para 69, 174 DLR (4th) 193 [Baker]; Reference re Pan-Canadian Securities Regulation, 2018 SCC 48 at para 66, citing Labour Conventions Case (Canada (AG) v Ontario (AG), [1937] AC 326 (UK JCPC) at 348, 1 DLR 673. Only customary (non-treaty) law can be adopted into the domestic law by Canadian courts without the need for legislation (R v Hape, 2007 SCC 26 at para 39 [Hape]).

[293] See Quebec (AG) v 9147-0732 Québec Inc, 2020 SCC 32 at para 35 [Quebec (AG)].

[294] Baker at para 70.

[295] Hape at paras 53–54.

[296] Quebec (AG) at paras 31–34.

[297] Jean-François Noël, The Convention on the Rights of the Child (Department of Justice Family Law Reports) at endnote 10, online: Government of Canada, Department of Justice justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/fl-lf/divorce/crc-crde/conv2d.html#ftn10.

[298] Human Rights Code, at Preamble.

[299] UDHR, supra note 173.

[300] ICESCR, supra note 176 at 2, 13—14.

[301] CRC, supra note 178 at arts 2, 23, 28–29.

[302] Ibid at art 3.

[303] CRPD, supra note 178 at art 24.

[304] Ibid at art 2.

[305] Ibid at art 24.

[306] Ibid at art 24(2)(c)). The denial of which is included in the CRPD’s definition of discrimination on the basis of disability (at article 2). In 2016, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities interpreted article 24 in its General Comment 4 on the right to inclusive education. The Committee identified many barriers that obstruct access to inclusive education for persons with disabilities, including, among other things: “the failure to understand or implement the human rights model of disability;” “low expectations about those in mainstream settings;” “lack of appropriate responses to support requirements;” “lack of disaggregated data and research, necessary for accountability and program development;” “lack of political will, technical knowledge, and capacity in implementing the right to inclusive education including insufficient education of all teaching staff;” “inappropriate and inadequate funding mechanisms to provide incentives and reasonable accommodations;” and “lack of legal remedies and mechanisms.” The Committee also mentions that persons with disabilities can experience intersectional discrimination based on other prohibited grounds (CRPD, General Comment No 4, supra note 258.)

[307] UNESCO, “Literacy, A UNESCO Perspective” (February 2003) at 2, online: UNESDOC Digital Library unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000131817?posInSet=6&queryId=0a93ce89-47a7-4898-a962-70446b1683d5 [UNESCO, “Literacy”].

[308] Ibid at 1.

[309] Sheila Carr-Stewart, “A Treaty Right to Education” (2001), 26(2) Canadian J of Edu 125, online (pdf): Assembly of First Nations afn.ca/uploads/files/education/8._2001_carr-stewart_treaty_right_to_education.pdf.

[310] Ontario First Nation Special Education Working Group (Review Chair: Peter Garrow), Ontario First Nations Special Education Review Report (May 2017) at 13, online (pdf): “Ontario First Nation Special Education Review Report” (May 2017), online (pdf): Chiefs of Ontario Education Portal firstnationsspecialeducation.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Ontario-First-Nations-Special-Education-Review-Report-May-2017-2.pdf [Ontario First Nation Special Education Working Group, Review Report].

[311] UN Declaration, supra note 291 at arts 14(2), 21(2), 22.

[312] Ibid at art 17(2).

[313] Ibid at arts 21(2), 22.

[314] UN Declaration, supra note 291.

[315] Ibid.

[316] Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 28 July 1951, 189 UNTS 137, arts 4, 22 (entered into force 22 April 1954); See also Principle 23 of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement which protects the right to education for Internally Displaced Persons: UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, 22 July 1998, ADM 1.1,PRL 12.1, PR00/98/109.