This paper addresses a 2006 Canadian Ontario Court of Appeal (OCA) decision concerning the failure of the Ontario government to fund a specific education type service to autistic children over the age of six. The Court’s judgment is found to have framed the more general issues in terms of government’s alleged discretionary policy in this regard rather than in terms of fundamental human rights entitlements. The Court’s finding of no discrimination on the basis of age or disability is considered and legal arguments better designed to challenge the Court’s denial of these older children’s participation rights are presented. A contrast is drawn between the aforementioned case and a recent Canada Federal Court decision in which certain interpretive services were mandated for deaf and hearing inmpaired adults to allow them to participate in government –sponsored meetings where policies affecting the deaf and hearing impiared are discussed. The argument is made that the autistic children over age six in the aforementioned OCA case were denied their right to societal participation/inclusion on the basis of age. The appropriate comparator group for the purpose of constitutional analysis of the issues in the case is found to be disabled adults in Canadian society who are more often accorded their participation rights in comparison to disabled children.
|Keywords:||Disability, Special Education, Autism, Children's Education Rights, Human Rights|
Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
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