PERSONAL SUPPORT NETWORKS
NEWS BULLETIN

PLN LIST is an email bulletin begun in 2001 for exchanging news and views about strategies of building and maintaining personal support networks for people with disabilities, and associated issues. PLN LIST came into being at the time Planned Lifetime Networks was incorporated in the Waterloo-Wellington region of southern Ontario. Members of the List are now distributed in communities across Canada, with some in other countries too.

PLN LIST is a free service maintained by Elizabeth & Gerald Bloomfield and hosted by the University of Guelph with technical support by Peter McCaskell. We welcome items of news and comment which should be sent to ebloomfi@uoguelph.ca. They will be grouped in batches for posting from time to time. Frequency depends on the volume of material submited and the urgency of announcing meetings or recommending advocacy.

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NEWS BULLETIN
25 November 2003

Look up  link to list of earlier bulletins for announcements and news that may be still current.

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NEWS AND COMMENTARY

National award to Toronto school for inclusion 

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Let's make our schools accessible to everyone
It's time to crack down on school boards
that don't enforce rights of disabled children
by JANIS JAFFE-WHITE AND REVA SCHAFER
Toronto Star Opinion page A19, Mon, 24 Nov 2003 

Now that the provincial election is over, perhaps we can pause and take a closer look at the Ontario Human Rights Commission Report, The Opportunity To Succeed: Achieving Barrier-free Education For Students With Disabilities. The report, released by Keith Norton, chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, on Oct. 27, created nary a ripple around the province. That is a tragedy. 

The report has the potential to reap major benefits for those individuals with additional needs and has serious ramifications for those who are responsible for accommodating the needs of those individuals. Yet it received minimal media attention. 

The Norton report was prepared and developed over two years and is based on consultations across the province with students, parents, educators, school boards, colleges, universities, government ministries, agencies, associations, and other individuals and groups. 

The commission received 124 written submissions and heard 50 oral submissions presented to an Ontario Human Rights Commission panel chaired by Norton. 

The Opportunity To Succeed: Achieving Barrier-free Education For Students With Disabilities recognizes and clearly delineates the difficulties faced by persons with additional needs within all levels of the educational system. 

The report illustrates that this fact is not only well known and well documented but that little, if anything, has been done to eradicate or circumvent the problems. 

The lack of responsiveness from the previous government led to a great loss of human potential and hardship for not only the individuals who could not have their needs met within the educational system but for their families, as well. 

The emotional cost to the families is unforgivable; the economic cost to our society is still undetermined. 

It is obvious from the report and its recommendations that the Ontario Human Rights Commission recognizes that many current educational practices are discriminatory and systemic. Although the report discusses financial considerations, greater emphasis is placed on attitudinal barriers. 

The families and the individuals who have been affected by the lack of responsiveness of boards of education and the ministry of education applaud the commission for their excellent recommendations. 

Unfortunately, many families, due to past experiences and present circumstances, have little faith that anything will change based on this report. 

The Education Act and the Ontario Human Rights Code have been ignored in the past with no recourse being taken against the offending parties. A lack of acceptance of responsibility and accountability has been a constant problem. 

Families want to see the right thing done — that is, the provision of opportunities to lead to full citizenship for their family members with additional needs. 

That means opening doors for all individuals, educating all individuals in a respectful manner in order that they can achieve to the best of their abilities. 

The human rights commission has now got the base from which to act. To not do so would be to be complicit in the discriminatory process itself. 

It is time for the Ontario Human Rights Commission to review those complaints that have been submitted within the last two years that continue to be unresolved, recognize their commonality, and take action based on broader public interest. 

This action would clearly indicate to all those who have contravened the Education Act and the human rights code that things must change and that to ignore their legal and ethical responsibilities will lead to immediate action. 

It is time for everyone involved in the process of educating individuals in this province — the Ministry of Education and Training, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the Ministry of Community and Social Services, Integrated Services for Children — to recognize their responsibility to the children, youth and adults of this province by: 

  • Focusing on the inherent dignity of all individuals and demonstrating respect and acceptance of each and every individual. 
  • Advancing the value that "differences" is the norm. 
  • Considering the best interests of the individual. 
  • Providing equity education based on individual requirements leading to independence and self-reliance. 
  • Empowering the individual so that he or she can achieve active and meaningful participation in the community and full citizenship. 
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ISSUES AND ADVOCACY

From SSAH Provincial Coalition to all interested families and friends:
Please note our SSAH PC website
We encourage all member organizations as well as individual members to meet with your newly elected officials in your ridings to speak about the importance of, and of our beliefs for SSAH.  Please make the following points:

  • Increasing the SSAH Budget by $25 million dollars provincially, would help to meet the current needs of families in Ontario. 
  • It is essential for families that SSAH be a program of First Choice.
  • SSAH is a vital support. It helps people and families to live meaningful lives in the community. 
  • SSAH can change and evolve to respond to all family needs. 
  • Families have much to contribute about how SSAH could evolve. 
  • Children with physical disabilities ineligible for direct funding who received SSAH should continue to qualify after 18 years old.

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    Please support THUNDER BAY’S SPECIAL SERVICES AT HOME FAMILY NETWORK PROJECT
    OAARSN has written in support of the project led by Nicole Cyrenne, who is a member of our OAARSN network. Click for our letter and some messages of support from family members of Nicole's network. If you would like to support the continued funding of this project, please fax your letter to Nicole at 807-623-6413. Or you may email her at nicole@tbaytel.net
     

    "Expanding Individualized Funding: The Time is Now!"
    February 20 to 22, 2004 at the Inn on the Park in Toronto.
    The goals are:
    - To develop an action plan for implementing IF in Ontario; and
    - To develop strategies for building the capacity of families & communities for citizenship & IF.
    Key stakeholders from all parts of the province are invited to think carefully about who needs to be invited in order to create and train a diverse, energetic and motivated leadership team. Please contact Judith Snow. Phone: 416-538-9344 or Fax: 416-516-1691

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ANNOUNCEMENTS OF EVENTS

**Thursday November 27, 2003: 9:30 am to 1 pm 
in lecture hall of Law Society of Upper Canada, Toronto** 
Free workshop offers lawyers insight into disability issues
Helen Henderson of The Star reports on "high hopes for a new plan to raise the profile of disability issues on the radar screens of Ontario lawyers":
There's no shortage of areas to tackle, all of them dramatically affecting the quality of life for people who move, communicate and/or process information in ways society labels "different." 

What obligations do Ontario schools, businesses and government offices have to meet the needs of people with disabilities and how can lawyers defend those rights? What can lawyers do for clients whose applications for disability support have been denied even though their doctors say they should be entitled? 

What are the key tax considerations for people with disabilities? And what are the most important issues in choosing a trustee or making a will in favour of someone with a disability? 

Those are the types of issues on the agenda at a free half-day "continuing education" workshop for lawyers tat sponsors hope will be an expanding program. 

If it's a success, they'll move on to tackle broader, big-ticket disability issues in the areas of education, health care and transportation. 

In return for the free session, lawyers attending the workshop will donate some of their time during the following 12 months to help handle legal matters for clients with disabilities. 

"We've had a lot of interest already," says Phyllis Gordon, executive director of ARCH, a legal aid resource centre for people with disabilities. ARCH is co-sponsoring the project with Pro Bono Law Ontario, a non-profit, province-wide group that helps people who don't qualify for legal aid but lack the means to hire a lawyer. 

The Law Society of Upper Canada and the Law Foundation of Ontario are providing funding. 

"It's not difficult to get lawyers involved in pro bono work once they know we can help them organize things," says Pro Bono's executive director Lynn Burns. "They don't get a lot of credit but they already do a lot." 

In the area of disability rights, "interest has grown, partly because of the Charter of Rights and the work of organizations like the Ontario Human Rights Commission, but also because there's been an increase in the number of people with disabilities entering the legal profession," adds Josée Bouchard, equity adviser for the Law Society of Upper Canada. 

ARCH itself goes to court only in precedent-setting test cases. But it is available for consultation by lawyers dealing with disability issues. And it offers the public a telephone advice and referral service. 

"The questions being asked relate to really complex issues," says Gordon, which is one of the reasons the service can't keep up with demand from the public. 

It's currently being reviewed and a redesign is planned but, ultimately, the answer to making the justice system more accessible lies in encouraging all lawyers across the province to get more involved. 

ARCH and Pro Bono Law Ontario plan to take their free workshop on the road across the province next year. 

If nothing else, demographics suggest that disability issues should be an expanding area of the law.With each advancing year, more members of the once-able-bodied population are learning the hard way what it's like to face barriers to participating in things they've always taken for granted. 

For more information, visit http://www.archlegalclinic.ca or http://www.probononet.on.ca. Lawyers who want to
register for the workshop may contact Theresa Sciberras at 416-482-8255 (voice), 416-482-1254 (TTY) or e-mail
scibert@lao.on.ca. Write: Helen Henderson, Life Section, Toronto Star, One Yonge St., Toronto, Ont. M5E 1E6. Please include your telephone number. hhenderson @thestar.ca

Tuesday, December 2, in London
Regional Support Associates presents workshop:
Dual Diagnosis strategies.Click for details and registration
 

Friday, December 5, in Owen Sound
Regional Support Associates presents workshop:
Getting comfortable: Sexuality issuesSee more details and register
 

Safe and Secure Futures Networks, 2003 - 2004
Monthly forums for mutual support and information sharing among family members of individuals who have a developmental disability--in three Toronto locations. Sponsored by Extend-A-Family and funded by a City of Toronto Community Services Grant.   Click for full details
 

Planned Lifetime Networks (Waterloo-Wellington...) 
also holds evening meetings on the 2nd Monday each month, alternating discussion of chapters in A GOOD LIFE with business meetings. The next business meeting is on November 10. All are welcome to each meeting. Anyone needing a ride please call Verlyn 519-624-5195. For more details, phone 519-746-1188 or email plnwwo@sympatico.ca
 

December 10-13th: 2003 TASH Conference - Possibilities..... Hilton Chicago
If you have not yet registered for the TASH Conference, we invite you to do
so today. Click for full conference details

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ANNOUNCEMENTS OF SPECIAL PROJECTS AND RESEARCH 

Book about Mothers of Special Needs Children
Heather Fawcett and Amy Baskin are the co-authors of From Struggle to Strength: How Mothering a Child with Special Needs Transforms Your Life to be published by Woodbine House in 2005. They write: 
"Recently, we invited mothers of children with special needs to contribute to our research.  The response from women across North America to our Mothers and Work questionnaire was overwhelming. We have been unable to respond to everyone individually but would like to thank all of you who completed our questionnaire. Your insights have been very helpful. We are now researching for two new chapters: "Family Life" and "Finding Personal and Professional Support."  If you would like to participate in the research for these chapters, please fill out the questionnaires online at http://www.amybaskin.com
Thank you for sharing your experiences."
Heather Fawcett hfawcett@sympatico.ca 
Amy Baskin abaskin@sentex.net

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HELPFUL RESOURCES

Ontario Government Ministries 
Family Net has posted an article on the new provincial cabinet and particularly the new ministry for children's services. "Premier, new ministers sworn in: New ministry for children’s services"
Click on this link
Click for directory of all MPPS Note that Ted Arnott ( Waterloo-Wellington) is the Critic for Children's Services and Shafiq Qaadri from North Etobicoke is the Parliamentary Assistant for Ministry of Children's Services. 

The "Special Needs" Planning Group
Our mission is to assist parents and other family members of people with disabilities in creating expertly formulated plans which will guarantee an enhanced quality of life for the person with a disability for their entire lifetime, after the parents have gone. There is no fee for service.
Link to website 

 

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