Nova Scotia first province to adopt Hansen Foundation curriculum in schools


HALIFAX – Nova Scotia’s Education Department is teaming up with the Rick Hansen Foundation to provide inclusion and accessibility teaching materials to the province’s schools.

The free online programs include access to foundation ambassadors and to a series of lesson plan ideas for primary and high schools. In a virtual news conference Tuesday, Hansen said the province is the first in the country to officially incorporate his foundation’s resources into its school curriculum.

“You are really taking an opportunity to educate the next generation of young difference makers who will normalize this issue,” Hansen said. “The reality is it is a multigenerational, ultra-marathon of social change.”

Hansen said the program contains information that should be available to “everyone, everywhere,” adding that it is now available in English and in French in every province and territory. His foundation’s resources, he said, have been used in 5,500 schools and by 12,000 teachers.

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“I want to encourage teachers to continue to explore the resources and utilize them and bring them to life in your classroom,” Hansen said. The curriculum program for each grade contains lessons about such things as empathy and it is designed to inspire students to actively promote social change.

Leah Fumerton, who teachers Grades 1 and 2 at Fairview Heights Elementary in Halifax, says she notices a genuine desire among her students to promote inclusion and accessibility. She says students want to better understand the experiences of those who don’t feel included.

“I see in them a want to question what is around us,” Fumerton said. “It’s critical for us to band together and make school inclusion possible.”

Education Minister Zach Churchill said the program is part of the province’s broader accessibility agenda and commitment to make Nova Scotia more inclusive.

“We’ve invested heavily into new, inclusive education supports, teachers and non-teaching support staff in our system,” he said. “I think how we approach teaching and learning around this subject can be equally impactful.”


Click to play video 'Marking 32 years since Rick Hansen’s “Man in Motion” World Tour'







Marking 32 years since Rick Hansen’s “Man in Motion” World Tour


Marking 32 years since Rick Hansen’s “Man in Motion” World Tour – May 22, 2019

Hansen rose to fame through his Man in Motion World Tour between 1985 and 1987, which saw the wheelchair athlete cover 40,000 kilometres through 34 countries to raise awareness about the potential of people with disabilities.

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More than 30 years later, he said many barriers to inclusivity remain in Canadian society. “To be able to formalize this (education) program and to embed it in core curriculum objectives is the ultimate … in helping to contribute to the Canada that we want,” Hansen said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 2, 2021.




© 2021 The Canadian Press





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Share with Others the Youtube Link to Yesterday’s Important Panel on TV Ontario’s “The Agenda with Steve Paikin” Revealing the Hardships Facing Many Ontario Students with Disabilities During Distance Education and While Attending Re-Opened Schools


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities
Web: http://www.aodaalliance.org Email: [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

December 9, 2020

Did you miss last night’s important panel on Ontario’s flagship public affairs program The Agenda with Steve Paikin on the barriers and hardships facing many Ontario students with disabilities during distance learning or while attending re-opened schools? You can now watch it online any time you want, on your computer, tablet, smart phone or smart TV! If you want to cut and paste the link, here it is! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AO0MDM54gnA&feature=youtu.be
In the past, TVO has upgraded the automated Youtube captioning for its postings from The Agenda with Steve Paikin and has posted a transcript of such panels within a period of days.

On this panel, Steve Paikin interviewed three guests:

1. AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, who is also a member of the Government-appointed K-12 Education Standards Development Committee, as well as a member and past chair of the Toronto District School Board’s Special Education Advisory Committee.
2. Ontario Autism Coalition President Laura Kirby-McIntosh, who is also a teacher and mother of two children with autism.
3. Grand Erie District School Board Special Education Advisory Committee member Paula Boutis, who is also the mother of a child with a disability and the President of Integration Action for Inclusion, a parent association of families with children with disabilities working to improve inclusion in education and community), and a past member of the TDSB Special Education Advisory Committee.

One of the many important points made during this interview is the pressing unmet need for the Ford Government to have developed and implemented a comprehensive province-wide plan on how school boards should meet the needs of a third of a million students with disabilities during distance learning and while attending re-opened schools. It is important to emphasize that the Government was handed just such a plan on a silver platter some five months ago one it has not implemented. That plan was developed by a sub-committee of the Government-appointed K-12 Education Standards Development Committee and was delivered to the Government on July 24, 2020. That Committee has representation from the disability community and school boards. It sets out a strong consensus position.

At the end of the interview, David Lepofsky stated that Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce told the Ontario Legislature on July 8, 2020 that he speaks regularly with Lepofsky. You can read the official Ontario Hansard transcript of that statement! Minister Lecce has not spoken to AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky since he made that statement. You can also read the AODA Alliance’s September 23, 2020 letter to Education Minister Lecce, asking for a meeting.

Please encourage as many people as possible, including your member of the Legislature and your local school staff and school board officials to watch the December 8, 2020 panel on The Agenda with Steve Paikin. Forward this Update to them. Publicize it on social media.

We know that so many parents of students with disabilities are struggling more than ever to advocate to their school and school board to meet their children’s learning needs. That’s why we have made available a helpful video that offers parents of students with disabilities a series of very practical tips on how to advocate to school boards for their children. Please encourage parents, teachers, principals and others to watch that video too! Encourage principals to share that video with all the families attending their school.

We again want to acknowledge and thank Steve Paikin, and the staff of The Agenda with Steve Paikin, for shining a bright spotlight on this important disability issue. As AODA Alliance Chair David emphasized in another recent online lecture about advocating for the needs of people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been inexplicably hard to get media attention on vital disability issues over the past nine months. We are struggling to understand why that is so. Bucking that trend, Mr. Paikin and The Agenda with Steve Paikin stand out as a true and commendable model of receptiveness to our issues and concerns. Steve Paikin noted at the start of this interview that it was an approach from the AODA Alliance that led his program to decide to include this panel, arising out of our concern that an earlier panel on The Agenda did not accurately describe the experience of many students with disabilities during distance education.

Despite the ordeal facing so many Ontarians, including the plight of so many students with disabilities and their families, yesterday, the Ford Government decided yesterday to cancel the rest of the sittings of the Legislature this week. It will not sit again until mid-February of next year.

It is in that context that we remind one and all that there have now been 678 days, over 22 months, since the Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act by former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley. In all this time, the Government has announced no comprehensive plan of new action to implement that ground-breaking report. That makes even worse the serious problems facing students with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, addressed in this new episode of The Agenda with Steve Paikin.

Send us your feedback on this interview on The Agenda with Steve Paikin or on any other accessibility topic. Write us at [email protected]




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Share with Others the Youtube Link to Yesterday’s Important Panel on TV Ontario’s “The Agenda with Steve Paikin” Revealing the Hardships Facing Many Ontario Students with Disabilities During Distance Education and While Attending Re-Opened Schools


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities

Web: www.aodaalliance.org Email: [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance Facebook: www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

Share with Others the Youtube Link to Yesterday’s Important Panel on TV Ontario’s “The Agenda with Steve Paikin” Revealing the Hardships Facing Many Ontario Students with Disabilities During Distance Education and While Attending Re-Opened Schools

December 9, 2020

Did you miss last night’s important panel on Ontario’s flagship public affairs program The Agenda with Steve Paikin on the barriers and hardships facing many Ontario students with disabilities during distance learning or while attending re-opened schools? You can now watch it online any time you want, on your computer, tablet, smart phone or smart TV! If you want to cut and paste the link, here it is!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AO0MDM54gnA&feature=youtu.be

In the past, TVO has upgraded the automated Youtube captioning for its postings from The Agenda with Steve Paikin and has posted a transcript of such panels within a period of days.

On this panel, Steve Paikin interviewed three guests:

  1. AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, who is also a member of the Government-appointed K-12 Education Standards Development Committee, as well as a member and past chair of the Toronto District School Board’s Special Education Advisory Committee.
  2. Ontario Autism Coalition President Laura Kirby-McIntosh, who is also a teacher and mother of two children with autism.
  3. Grand Erie District School Board Special Education Advisory Committee member Paula Boutis, who is also the mother of a child with a disability and the President of Integration Action for Inclusion, a parent association of families with children with disabilities working to improve inclusion in education and community), and a past member of the TDSB Special Education Advisory Committee.

One of the many important points made during this interview is the pressing unmet need for the Ford Government to have developed and implemented a comprehensive province-wide plan on how school boards should meet the needs of a third of a million students with disabilities during distance learning and while attending re-opened schools. It is important to emphasize that the Government was handed just such a plan on a silver platter some five months ago – one it has not implemented. That plan was developed by a sub-committee of the Government-appointed K-12 Education Standards Development Committee and was delivered to the Government on July 24, 2020. That Committee has representation from the disability community and school boards. It sets out a strong consensus position.

At the end of the interview, David Lepofsky stated that Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce told the Ontario Legislature on July 8, 2020 that he speaks regularly with Lepofsky. You can read the official Ontario Hansard transcript of that statement! Minister Lecce has not spoken to AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky since he made that statement. You can also read the AODA Alliance’s September 23, 2020 letter to Education Minister Lecce, asking for a meeting.

Please encourage as many people as possible, including your member of the Legislature and your local school staff and school board officials to watch the December 8, 2020 panel on The Agenda with Steve Paikin. Forward this Update to them. Publicize it on social media.

We know that so many parents of students with disabilities are struggling more than ever to advocate to their school and school board to meet their children’s learning needs. That’s why we have made available a helpful video that offers parents of students with disabilities a series of very practical tips on how to advocate to school boards for their children. Please encourage parents, teachers, principals and others to watch that video too! Encourage principals to share that video with all the families attending their school.

We again want to acknowledge and thank Steve Paikin, and the staff of The Agenda with Steve Paikin, for shining a bright spotlight on this important disability issue. As AODA Alliance Chair David emphasized in another recent online lecture about advocating for the needs of people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been inexplicably hard to get media attention on vital disability issues over the past nine months. We are struggling to understand why that is so. Bucking that trend, Mr. Paikin and The Agenda with Steve Paikin stand out as a true and commendable model of receptiveness to our issues and concerns. Steve Paikin noted at the start of this interview that it was an approach from the AODA Alliance that led his program to decide to include this panel, arising out of our concern that an earlier panel on The Agenda did not accurately describe the experience of many students with disabilities during distance education.

Despite the ordeal facing so many Ontarians, including the plight of so many students with disabilities and their families, yesterday, the Ford Government decided yesterday to cancel the rest of the sittings of the Legislature this week. It will not sit again until mid-February of next year.

It is in that context that we remind one and all that there have now been 678 days, over 22 months, since the Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act by former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley. In all this time, the Government has announced no comprehensive plan of new action to implement that ground-breaking report. That makes even worse the serious problems facing students with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, addressed in this new episode of The Agenda with Steve Paikin.

Send us your feedback on this interview on The Agenda with Steve Paikin or on any other accessibility topic. Write us at [email protected]



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Watch TVO’s ‘The Agenda with Steve Paikin’ Tonight at 8 or 11 PM for an Interview on Whether Distance Education and Re-Opened Schools are Meeting the Learning Needs of Students with Disabilities


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities
Web: http://www.aodaalliance.org Email: [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

We encourage you to watch TVO’s flagship current affairs program “The Agenda with Steve Paikin” tonight at 8 or 11 pm eastern time for an extensive interview on whether the learning needs of students with disabilities are being met this fall, both those doing distance education and those attending re-opened schools. The guests are AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, Ontario Autism Coalition President Laura Kirby-McIntosh and Grand Erie District School Board Special Education Advisory Committee member Paula Boutis (who is also President of Integration Action for Inclusion, a parent association of families with children with disabilities working to improve inclusion in education and community).

This program will appear on TV (for those who still use it). It will also stream tonight at 8 pm on the Twitter feed and Facebook page of The Agenda with Steve Paikin. It will be permanently available on YouTube. In a future AODA Alliance Update, we will provide the YouTube link.

On November 13, 2020, the Agenda included a panel that explored how effectively distance education is working during COVID-19. Those earlier panelists gave distance education very positive grades, but did not give sufficient consideration to its impact on students with disabilities. Today’s broadcast gives viewers a chance to learn about that important issue with this new panel.

We applaud The Agenda with Steve Paikin for addressing this disability issue on tonight’s broadcast, which is important for a third of a million Ontario students with disabilities in publicly-funded Ontario schools. Back on May 8, 2020, The Agenda included an interview about our campaign to get the Ontario Government to address the barriers that people with disabilities are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s new interview provided a good opportunity to bring viewers up to date, with a specific focus on the hardships facing school-age students with disabilities.

Help us use this broadcast to promote real change. Please

* Encourage your friends and family to watch this interview.

* Promote this interview on social media like Twitter and Facebook.

* Press members of the Ontario Legislature to watch this interview.

* Urge your local media to cover this issue too. Bring them stories about barriers facing students with disabilities in Ontario’s schools.

* Follow us on Twitter: @aodaalliance. On Facebook: www.facebook.com/AODAAlliance/

* While you’re at it, please encourage parents and guardians of students with disabilities to watch the captioned online video by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky where practical tips are given on how to effectively advocate for the needs of students with disabilities in the school system. We’ve already received very encouraging feedback on that video. Tell your school board to publicize it to all parents.

There have now been 677 days, over 22 months, since the Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act by former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Government has still announced no comprehensive plan of new action to implement that ground-breaking report. That makes even worse the serious problems facing students with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, addressed in this new episode of The Agenda with Steve Paikin.




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Watch TVO’s “The Agenda with Steve Paikin” Tonight at 8 or 11 PM for an Interview on Whether Distance Education and Re-Opened Schools are Meeting the Learning Needs of Students with Disabilities


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities

Web: www.aodaalliance.org Email: [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance Facebook: www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

Watch TVO’s “The Agenda with Steve Paikin” Tonight at 8 or 11 PM for an Interview on Whether Distance Education and Re-Opened Schools are Meeting the Learning Needs of Students with Disabilities

We encourage you to watch TVO’s flagship current affairs program “The Agenda with Steve Paikin” tonight at 8 or 11 pm eastern time for an extensive interview on whether the learning needs of students with disabilities are being met this fall, both those doing distance education and those attending re-opened schools. The guests are AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, Ontario Autism Coalition President Laura Kirby-McIntosh and Grand Erie District School Board Special Education Advisory Committee member Paula Boutis (who is also President of Integration Action for Inclusion, a parent association of families with children with disabilities working to improve inclusion in education and community).

This program will appear on TV (for those who still use it). It will also stream tonight at 8 pm on the Twitter feed and Facebook page of The Agenda with Steve Paikin. It will be permanently available on YouTube. In a future AODA Alliance Update, we will provide the YouTube link.

On November 13, 2020, the Agenda included a panel that explored how effectively distance education is working during COVID-19. Those earlier panelists gave distance education very positive grades, but did not give sufficient consideration to its impact on students with disabilities. Today’s broadcast gives viewers a chance to learn about that important issue with this new panel.

We applaud The Agenda with Steve Paikin for addressing this disability issue on tonight’s broadcast, which is important for a third of a million Ontario students with disabilities in publicly-funded Ontario schools. Back on May 8, 2020, The Agenda included an interview about our campaign to get the Ontario Government to address the barriers that people with disabilities are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s new interview provided a good opportunity to bring viewers up to date, with a specific focus on the hardships facing school-age students with disabilities.

Help us use this broadcast to promote real change. Please

* Encourage your friends and family to watch this interview.

* Promote this interview on social media like Twitter and Facebook.

* Press members of the Ontario Legislature to watch this interview.

* Urge your local media to cover this issue too. Bring them stories about barriers facing students with disabilities in Ontario’s schools.

* Follow us on Twitter: @aodaalliance. On Facebook: www.facebook.com/AODAAlliance/

 

* While you’re at it, please encourage parents and guardians of students with disabilities to watch the captioned online video by AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky where practical tips are given on how to effectively advocate for the needs of students with disabilities in the school system. We’ve already received very encouraging feedback on that video. Tell your school board to publicize it to all parents.

There have now been 677 days, over 22 months, since the Ford Government received the final report of the Independent Review of the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act by former Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley. The Government has still announced no comprehensive plan of new action to implement that ground-breaking report. That makes even worse the serious problems facing students with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, addressed in this new episode of The Agenda with Steve Paikin.





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Tell Us What Successes or Barriers Students with Disabilities Are Experiencing This Fall at School or During Distance Education


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities
Web: http://www.aodaalliance.org Email: [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

December 1, 2020

Please take a minute to send us your feedback! We want to hear from parents and guardians of students with disabilities in Ontario Schools, from students with disabilities themselves, and from anyone working or volunteering in our schools. How has it been going for students with disabilities this fall, either during distance learning or when attending at school? Please email us your answers, even if you only have a minute or two. Write us at [email protected]

Here are the questions that are especially important. Feel free to answer all or just some of them:

1. Is your child attending school in person or taking part in distance learning? Why did you choose one over the other?

2. If your child is taking part in distance learning, how is it going? Are they learning as much as when they are at school?

3. If your child is taking part in distance education, are they encountering any disability barriers or disability-related problems? If so, how effective has the school board been at overcoming those barriers or problems?

4. If your child is attending school in person, have they encountered any additional disability barriers or problems due to the COVID-19 pandemic and measures taken to address it? If so, how effective has the school board been at removing or fixing those barriers or problems?

We appreciate any time you can take to send us your feedback. Please respond, if at all possible, by the end of Monday, December 7, 2020.

We will read every response we get. It will help us formulate our ongoing advocacy efforts. We will not reveal any names or specific identifying information you share with us.

As a volunteer coalition, we won’t be able to give advice on specific cases. However, if you want some practical tips on how to advocate for a child with disabilities in the school system, check out the AODA Alliance’s new online video on this topic.

For more background on these issues, visit

1. The AODA Alliance’s COVID-19 web page and our education accessibility web page.

2. The July 24, 2020 report on meeting the needs of students with disabilities during school re-opening by the COVID-19 subcommittee of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee.

3. The AODA Alliance’s July 23, 2020 report on the need to rein in the power of school principals to refuse to admit a student to school.

4. The AODA Alliance’s June 18, 2020 brief to the Ford Government on how to meet the needs of students with disabilities during school re-opening.

5. The widely viewed online video of the May 4, 2020 virtual Town Hall on meeting the needs of students with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis, co-organized by the Ontario Autism Coalition and the AODA Alliance.




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Tell Us What Successes or Barriers Students with Disabilities Are Experiencing This Fall at School or During Distance Education – AODA Alliance


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities

Web: www.aodaalliance.org Email: [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance Facebook: www.facebook.com/aodaalliance/

Tell Us What Successes or Barriers Students with Disabilities Are Experiencing This Fall at School or During Distance Education

December 1, 2020

Please take a minute to send us your feedback! We want to hear from parents and guardians of students with disabilities in Ontario Schools, from students with disabilities themselves, and from anyone working or volunteering in our schools. How has it been going for students with disabilities this fall, either during distance learning or when attending at school? Please email us your answers, even if you only have a minute or two. Write us at [email protected]

Here are the questions that are especially important. Feel free to answer all or just some of them:

  1. Is your child attending school in person or taking part in distance learning? Why did you choose one over the other?
  1. If your child is taking part in distance learning, how is it going? Are they learning as much as when they are at school?
  1. If your child is taking part in distance education, are they encountering any disability barriers or disability-related problems? If so, how effective has the school board been at overcoming those barriers or problems?
  1. If your child is attending school in person, have they encountered any additional disability barriers or problems due to the COVID-19 pandemic and measures taken to address it? If so, how effective has the school board been at removing or fixing those barriers or problems?

We appreciate any time you can take to send us your feedback. Please respond, if at all possible, by the end of Monday, December 7, 2020.

We will read every response we get. It will help us formulate our ongoing advocacy efforts. We will not reveal any names or specific identifying information you share with us.

As a volunteer coalition, we won’t be able to give advice on specific cases. However, if you want some practical tips on how to advocate for a child with disabilities in the school system, check out the AODA Alliance’s new online video on this topic.

For more background on these issues, visit

  1. The AODA Alliance’s COVID-19 web page and our education accessibility web page.
  1. The July 24, 2020 report on meeting the needs of students with disabilities during school re-opening by the COVID-19 subcommittee of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee.
  1. The AODA Alliance‘s July 23, 2020 report on the need to rein in the power of school principals to refuse to admit a student to school.
  1. The AODA Alliance’s June 18, 2020 brief to the Ford Government on how to meet the needs of students with disabilities during school re-opening.
  1. The widely viewed online video of the May 4, 2020 virtual Town Hall on meeting the needs of students with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis, co-organized by the Ontario Autism Coalition and the AODA Alliance.



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Indefinite Arts Centre finds new name and potential new home – Calgary



Calgary’s oldest and largest disability arts organization has announced they are rebranding themselves.

Following recent mergers with Momo Movement and Artistic Expressions, the Indefinite Arts Centre will now be known as the National accessArts Centre.

There’s also talk about the centre moving.

The Centre’s current location is in an adjoining facility to the Fairview Arena, which had its roof collapse in 2018. The City of Calgary then completed an assessment of the building, deemed it unsafe, and plans to demolish it.

Read more:
Organization supports Calgary artists with disabilities amid COVID-19 outbreak

While this news didn’t come as a surprise, it did make the centre’s future even more unclear.

“This has been two-and-a-half years of incredible anxiety for our organization,” NaAC CEO Jung-Suk Ryu said. “We have 300 artists and families that access the space each week during regular times, and we’re a lifeline for so many of them.”

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READ MORE: Indefinite Arts Centre continues funding fight for new home

One location that has been identified for the centre to move into is the former Scouts Canada building along Memorial Drive. The building is comparable in size to the centre’s current location in Fairview, but upgrades would need to be completed on the city-owned facility to make it accessible for artists disabilities.

“The bells and whistles to make it an art space, we can raise money for that” Ryu said. “The fact is right now the basic built-in environment is incredibly inaccessible to the vast majority of our artists, so we would like the city to support us in fixing that.”

It’s Ryu’s understanding that this will be the centre’s final winter in their existing site, which gives them approximately a year to work with the city to address the challenges with the potential new building.




© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.





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Ontario investing $1B over 6 years to improve internet, cellphone service


The Ontario government is committing nearly $1 billion over six years to improve and expand broadband internet and cellular access across the province.

In the village of Minden on Wednesday afternoon, Premier Doug Ford announced an additional investment of $680 million on top of $315 million announced in 2019 to support the province’s “Up to Speed: Ontario’s Broadband and Cellular Action Plan.”

“Reliable, high-speed internet is no longer a luxury, it is necessary for everyday life,” said Ford. “It allows people to bank, shop, learn to get their news or watch their favourite movies and we take that for granted.”

Read more:
EORN to propose billion dollar rural broadband internet expansion

Ford says providing high-speed internet to communities like Minden, about 100 kilometres north of Peterborough, will create “good jobs” and unlock “new opportunities” for businesses and people.

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“With the world online these days, if we are going to attract more investment to Ontario and compete in this highly competitive global marketplace, we need every part of our province connected with high-speed Internet,” said Ford, noting how more people have turned to internet since the coronavirus pandemic.

The province says more than 1.4 million people in Ontario do not have broadband or cellular access and up to 12 per cent of households (mostly rural, remote or Northern areas) are “underserved or unserved,” according to Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission data.

Minister of Infrastructure Laurie Scott called Wednesday’s announcement a “watershed moment” for broadband. The MPP for Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock says in an increasingly digital world, Ontarians need to be connected.

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“This investment will connect even more residents in communities across Ontario to faster, more reliable internet and cell service,” said Scott. “Today’s commitment to connect more people to reliable broadband and cellular service ― along with many others we’ve made ― will make it easier for more people to work and learn from home, run their businesses and connect with others.”

The action plan aims to improve connections for up to 220,000 households and businesses, Scott said, and includes a $150-million infrastructure program beginning in 2020-21 with “shovel-ready projects.”

Read more:
EORN to propose billion dollar rural broadband internet expansion

Scott did not outline any specific projects on Wednesday, stating funding is the “start of conversations” with municipalities and telecommunications partners along with expected support from Ottawa.

“We’re hopeful the federal government will release its Universal Broadband Fund — Ontario has stepped up and is putting $1 billion on the table,” she said.

“Ontario isn’t waiting any longer. That is why we are taking action today.”

Peter Bethlenfalvy, president of the Treasury Board, says the investment is a “signature project” of the Ontario Onwards Action Plan to make vital programs and services more convenient, reliable and accessible.

“We cannot afford to be an offline government in an online world,” said Bethlenfalvy.

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The investment announced Wednesday also doubles funding for the Improving Connectivity in Ontario (ICON) program announced in June, bringing the new total to $300 million, said Scott. She said the program now has the potential to leverage more than $900 million in total partner funding to improve connectivity across Ontario.

Ontario has also partnered with the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) to invest $71 million in a $213-million project to improve access to cellular service and mobile broadband in Eastern Ontario.

Andy Letham, Mayor of the City of Kawartha Lakes and Brent Devolin, mayor of Minden Hills Township, both expressed their gratitude for Wednesday’s announcement.

“It will help connect more homes and businesses in Ontario communities and increase their economic competitiveness,” said Letham. “And improve the quality of life for residents and businesses.”

The action plan says coverage for internet connections should be at speeds of at least 50 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 10 Mbps upload.

Rocco Rossi, president & CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber welcomes the additional investments to help underserved communities.

“Canada’s telecommunications network is one of the most advanced networks in the world,” he said. “The vast majority of heavy lifting has been done by the private sector which has invested heavily in digital infrastructure. However, there remains unserved and underserved communities that require the government to step in.

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“For business, health care and education, particularly those workers practicing physical distancing, connectivity is necessary to ensure they can remain productive by using digital tools such as video conferencing. Without adequate access, those in rural and remote regions will be vulnerable to additional layoffs and business closures. We hope to see the federal government consider how to both expedite and increase the federal investment for broadband connectivity to help further support Ontarians in unserved and underserved communities.”


Click to play video 'Broadband expansion critical to recovery: Northumberland recovery task force'







Broadband expansion critical to recovery: Northumberland recovery task force


Broadband expansion critical to recovery: Northumberland recovery task force – Jun 8, 2020




© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.





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Students with disabilities face more obstacles returning to class, Ontario advocates say


TORONTO — Advocacy groups in Ontario say students with disabilities will face additional obstacles returning to class following the pandemic, leaving parents unsure if their children will be fully and safely included in school reopening plans.

The Ontario Autism Coalition and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance held an online town hall meeting Friday to discuss what they say is the provincial government’s “failure” to put parents at ease with the school year looming.

OAC president Laura Kirby-McIntosh said when it comes to welcoming children with disabilities back to school, the province is doing the bare minimum at best.

“The Ministry of Education’s guide to reopening Ontario schools is not really a plan,” she said in an interview. “What we get is some very nice words.”

Read more:
‘I need help’: Coronavirus highlights disparities among Canadians with disabilities

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Kirby-McIntosh said the province’s school system is designed primarily with non-disabled children in mind, and while children with disabilities are treated as an afterthought.

“One thing that COVID has done very effectively is it has exposed systemic issues across our society — of racism, medical infrastructure — and now we are getting to school infrastructure.”

A spokeswoman for Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the government has allocated $10 million in additional funding specifically dedicated to supporting students with special education needs.

“We are spending more money than any other province on special education,” Caitlin Clark said.

However, Kirby-McIntosh said schools run on more than just money.

“They run on good planning,” she said. “Yes, they are spending more money on schools, but why wait until the third week of August to announce that? I don’t feel that we are ready, it is not good enough.”






Pandemic hard on children with autism


Pandemic hard on children with autism

AODA Alliance chair David Lepofsky said both his group and the Autism Coalition have offered plenty of proposals and advice to the government, before and during the pandemic, in relation to students with special needs.

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“Not one public official at the Ministry of Education picked up the phone to ask for more information, and they have done nothing about it,” he said.

Lepofsky said students with disabilities risk not being fully supported during the pandemic and through their education. Even worse, he said, is the looming fear of being told they can not attend in-person learning come the fall school year.

Toronto District School Board spokesman Ryan Bird assured parents that when it comes to students with special needs, the board has a number of congregate sites available for them in the fall.

“These schools specialize in supporting these students and that will continue,” he said, noting the TDSB is trying to get as much information as possible to parents in the upcoming days and weeks.

“We get the frustration from parents, and we understand that there are important decisions to be made in sending your child back to school in September,” he said.

“We realize the time is ticking.”




© 2020 The Canadian Press





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