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Once again, the issue of inclusive school programs has struck a raw nerve. All the letters to the editor on Tuesday were dedicated to this topic – obviously only the tip of the iceberg of letters submitted on the subject (Is It Fair To Anyone To Put Kids With Complex Needs In A Regular Classroom? – letters, Jan. 8; Autism Advocates Push Ontario To Ban School Exclusions, Jan. 7).
Unlike much of the present-day vitriol-driven discourse, the tone of the letters was considerate and thoughtful. Every one, in its own way, was truly attempting to find resolution. Dealing with integration of any sort in society requires open-mindedness and the societal willingness to adequately financially support such initiatives. Too often, the genuinely beneficial aspects of integration for all in society are touted by governments solely on the basis of merit, while obscuring the true costs to ensure success. Integration costs money, lots of money, to be effective. However, properly funded integrative services add significant value to society.
In the end, as has always been the case, you reap what you sow.
Steve Sanderson, Quispamsis, N.B.
I am a Grade 10 student who had a friend with special needs as a classmate in my elementary school. My friend “C” had Fragile X syndrome, which I only heard about and learned about because he was in my class. If I hadn’t been friends with him, I would not have learned how to talk to someone with a disability, I would not have learned how to listen to someone who has limited communication skills, and I would not have learned how to be patient, compassionate and supportive of someone with special needs. I was lucky to have someone like “C” in my class because I gained so much from his inclusion.
Sydney Coyle, Toronto
Yes, all children have the right to a good education. But all children also have the right to a safe environment where they are not exposed to the violent and disruptive behaviour of their classmates. A seven-year-old with autism was excluded, suspended and then expelled after a series of physical attacks, verbal insults and disruptive behaviour directed at other children and the teaching staff – leaving an educational assistant with bruises, scrapes and a concussion. His parents filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal and now, together with other parents and advocates, are campaigning to remove a principal’s power to exclude students from school for an indefinite period.
The ever-present anguish of parents with special needs children is understandable. An inclusive classroom is not the answer for everyone. It may work for some, while others with extreme anti-social behavioural problems require a different educational approach. It is not a human rights issue, neither is it a matter of the disciplinary powers of school principals. One size does not fit all when dealing with complex developmental challenges.
Let’s not make the mistake of asking, “What will it take to make inclusive education work?” Ask instead, “What will it take to find – and deliver – the right approach for each individual child with special needs?”
Peter Bartha, Aurora, Ont.
Rx for pharmacare
Re Let’s Make 2019 The Year Of Pharmacare (Jan. 7): A more apt headline for your editorial would have been Let’s Make 2019 The Year Of Something For Nothing.
It would be wonderful to have universal pharmacare, but someone has to pay for it. Federal and provincial governments, and taxpayers are swimming in debt. Better to concentrate on bulk purchasing of pharmaceuticals to lower overall costs.
Ron Freedman, Toronto
Pharmacare would improve the health of many Canadians. It also presents an opportunity to improve the medication administration system, which would greatly reduce costs and improve the quality of medication prescribing.
A key component of this review should be to free pharmacists from being vendors and dispensers of drugs, and allow them to use their skills by integrating them as vital members of the health-care team. The pharmacist should be a recognizable constant of each citizen’s health-provider team, fully funded by the government, working closely with other primary-care providers. Prescription drugs should be dispensed by online drug vendors and delivered to the client’s home by mail within 24 hours.
Joseph Sertic, MD, Mississauga
Re Newfoundland Town Residents Urged To Stay Away From Stranded Seals Roaming The Streets (Jan. 8): What is most disturbing and hypocritical about the federal Fisheries Department saying “We would like to remind people that it is illegal to disturb a marine mammal and human interaction can disturb an animal’s normal life process” is that it is our “human interaction” – pollution, accelerated climate change – that contributes to the disruption of their natural habitat in the first place and hence plays a role in the fact that these seals are roaming the streets.
Jenny Allen, Midhurst, Ont.
Politics and power
Re A Man In The Middle (Dec. 29): It was very interesting for me to learn that Gavin Tighe, “a lawyer who had represented Doug Ford, now the Premier of Ontario, and his late brother” has secured a four-year government contract at more than $160,000 per year to serve as the chair of the province’s Public Accountants Council. This sounds like the Ron Taverner affair being repeated (The Premier’s Pal Can’t Be The Top Cop – editorial, Dec. 21).
Is Mr. Tighe qualified in any way for the job? Has Doug Ford announced in a voice full of bluster that he had nothing to do with the appointment and that Mr. Tighe is the most qualified person for the job? How many other friends and business associates of Doug Ford have secured such government largesse? In the interest of openness, should Doug Ford not announce the appointments of his close acquaintances to government positions?
I am sure his base would like more affirmation of the kind of job he is doing as our Premier.
John Dungey, Mitchell, Ont.
I agree with everything Jim Hickman outlined in his letter about political interference in Ontario’s electrical utility, most recently by the Ford government (No Way to Run a Business – letters, Jan. 7; Idaho Joins Washington in Rejecting Hydro One’s Avista Purchase – Report on Business, Jan. 4).
There was, however, another critical step in this long road to privatization of our utility. It was the PC government under Mike Harris elected in 1995 that split Ontario Hydro in two. Its generation asset became Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and its transmission asset became Hydro One. The plan to privatize Hydro One was launched then.
In fact, in 2002 it was set to be sold in an IPO by the PCs under Ernie Eves, but this was cancelled amid public backlash and high usage in a hot summer.
It would be fair to say that the demise of Hydro One has been akin to Murder on the Orient Express – a political version.
Marilyn Murray, London, Ont.