May 17, 2005
Mr. Frank Klees (Oak Ridges): Another photo op for the Minister of Education; another reannouncement of a former announcement. When will the minister take seriously his responsibilities as the minister with responsibilities for all schoolchildren across this province? Do we support new funding of textbooks? Of course. But what I want to ask the minister is, what has he put in place to ensure that those dollars will in fact go to purchasing textbooks and not to paying for the 10.5% increase he guaranteed for teachers’ salaries over the next four years. Do we support lower class sizes? Of course we do. Would anyone object to an announcement of additional resources for technological education programs and new equipment? Of course not; we’re all in support of that. Few would object to these programs, because they are positive.
But there is one group of parents who are left wondering how the minister can justify continuing to make multimillion-dollar announcements for some students and continue to ignore their children: the parents of autistic children. Not only is the minister refusing to honour the Premier’s written guarantee to provide funding for children with autism over the age of six, he is dragging those parents through the courts appealing a Superior Court decision ordering the government to in fact provide those services. The minister and the Premier continue to pronounce their empty catchphrase, “Every child in this province deserves an equal quality education.” Minister and Premier, why does that not apply to autistic children? When will you have a photo-op and an announcement with those parents and those children who are appealing to you, not for additional textbooks, not for additional technological equipment, but for the very basic skills of communication and mobility? I call on this minister and this Premier to get their priorities straight and to honour their commitments to all children in this province.