Did You Know?

  • The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states that everyone has the right to an inclusive education.  Canada was among the first countries to sign the convention.
  • The Ontario Human Rights Commission has affirmed that educational services must promote inclusion and full participation.
  • Regulation 181/98 of the Education Act in Ontario has called for placement of children who have an intellectual disability in regular classrooms as a first option.
  • 67% of Canadian children who have an intellectual disability are not included in a regular classroom.  Numbers are thought to be higher in Ontario.  Controversial documentation and complications because of labeling make this difficult to determine

Our Position

Community Living Ontario’s vision statement describes a community where the resources and supports will be available to ensure that all children “go with their neighbourhood friends, to their neighbourhood schools where they further their growth and development together.”

Education is the cornerstone of a person’s citizenship.  It is central to a person’s opportunities for employment and inclusion in society.  Education will determine how a person contributes to his or her community.

Education is a right.  Every child needs to share and participate in, benefit from and contribute to all aspects of school life.  A child who has an intellectual disability is entitled to the individualized supports necessary to be included in regular classes and all school activities.  Parents should have the opportunity to become true partners in determining and participating in their child’s education.  Boards of education need to accept their obligation to meet these needs and ensure that every child’s rights are being respected.

Inclusion does not end after secondary school.  Everybody should have the opportunity to pursue career goals and personal development in Ontario’s colleges and universities.  With adequate supports, every student can be fully included in regular programs and have the opportunity to earn credits toward the completion of their diploma, certificate or degree.   

Inclusion has a broad positive impact on all students.  An inclusive education system provides all students with lessons in cooperation, consideration of others and respect for diversity.  Opportunities to learn from, support and develop relationships with one another are not possible when students are streamed into separate classes. A fully inclusive education system reflects Canadian society as a whole and contributes to its betterment.

What is being done in Ontario?

Everyday in Ontario, teachers and schools are providing a high quality education to ensure that future citizens are equipped with the skills and knowledge that they will need to succeed.  Regrettably, this quality education is not being consistently provided to students who have an intellectual disability.  Our education system must ensure that every child receives the benefits of education as a member of a regular class in a regular school.

Schools that have adopted an inclusive culture have demonstrated the benefits that it provides for all children in the establishment of a healthy society that respects and supports different talents, strengths and capabilities.  On the other hand, people who have a disability have been clear about the harm they have suffered as a result of segregated education practices and the life-long dependence on specialized government supports that can result from a segregated education.

Ontario has already taken many steps toward inclusion.  Policies such as Regulation 181/98, which states that a regular classroom should be the first option for placement for all students, have laid the foundations for a successful move to full inclusion.  The Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Guidelines on Accessible Education has established the conditions necessary to ensure fairness and equity in education.  The combination of these policies offer a clear mandate for leadership in ensuring that students who have an intellectual disability are included in regular classrooms.

Planning mechanisms such as Identification, Placement and Review Committees, and Individual Education Plans (IEP) could play a role in ensuring that the proper individualized supports for a student are in place to succeed in a regular classroom.

The implementation of Education for All, and the continuance of modules on facilitating inclusion in the classroom through the New Teacher Induction Program have created a unique capacity for transforming the quality of education in Ontario. There are adequate dollars already in place for special education programs that could be reinvested into inclusive practices and supports in regular classrooms.  An existing knowledge base on providing inclusive education is well established in Ontario.  

Ontario is in a position to take a leadership role in ratifying the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. With all of the above groundwork in place there is a unique opportunity to ensure that students who have an intellectual disability receive the same quality education as all other students.

Innovative Policy Options

Inclusive Education in Canada: Key Issues and Directions for the Future

This document was produced by the Roeher Institute based on the Canadian Association for Community Living’s National Summit on Inclusive Education.

Brief on Systemic Barriers to Implementing Inclusive Education in New Brunswick

“New Brunswick has over 20 years of experience in implementing a province wide inclusive education system. Since the mid-1980s, great progress has been made at many levels toward ensuring that New Brunswick’s schools are inclusive places of learning for all students. However, there has been inconsistency in the implementation of the inclusive education model since it became provincial law and policy in 1986.”  From the New Brunswick Association for Community Living, this report identifies challenges faced during the movement to one of the most inclusive education systems in the world.

Connecting Care and Challenge: Tapping Our Human Potential

This report on inclusive education in New Brunswick by Wayne MacKay is an extensive study of inclusive education in New Brunswick with comparisons to other jurisdictions in Canada.  Its findings will be motivating to anyone working to implement inclusive education.

Relevant Legislation

Article 24 of The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

states that everyone has the right to an inclusive education. The text of the Convention puts emphasis on full inclusion:

“States Parties shall ensure that:

(a) Persons with disabilities are not excluded from the general education system on the basis of disability, and that children with disabilities are not excluded from free and compulsory primary education, or from secondary education, on the basis of disability;

(b) Persons with disabilities can access an inclusive, quality and free primary education and secondary education on an equal basis with others in the communities in which they live;

(c) Reasonable accommodation of the individual’s requirements is provided;

(d) Persons with disabilities receive the support required, within the general education system, to facilitate their effective education;

(e) Effective individualized support measures are provided in environments that maximize academic and social development, consistent with the goal of full inclusion.”

In November of 2006 the Ontario Human Rights Commission released its

Guidelines on Accessible Education

.  The Document states the “principle of accommodation” involving three factors: Dignity, Individualization and Inclusion.  The guidelines clearly state that before any specialized services are considered, “education providers must first make efforts to build or adapt educational services to accommodate students with disabilities in a way that promotes their inclusion and full participation.”

Regulation 181/97

of the Education Act specifies that a regular classroom should be the first option for placement, where it best meets the needs of the student and there is no parental objection.

Research Links

Inclusive Education Canada

has many reports, articles and publications on best practices, teaching strategies, and policy initiatives:

The Ontario Coalition for Inclusive Education is an alliance of twelve provincial organizations committed to making inclusive education a reality in Ontario.  The site is home to many documents of consultations with the Ontario Ministry of Education, reports and recommendations on policy and resources on inclusive education.

Inclusion Press

The publishes resources on Inclusive Education.  They also have online resources about education that will be valuable to teachers, parents, schools and policymakers.


For previous policy papers and for a full list of resolutions passed by the membership of Community Living Ontario on inclusive education, please visit our Archives.

Contact your MPP/MP

Click here for information to assist you in contacting your local MP or MPP

Help us improve education for people in Ontario who have an intellectual disability!  

If you have ideas or resources to share with us please contact our policy analyst, thnatuk [at] communitylivingontario [dot] ca (Tyler Hnatuk) at 416-447-4348, Ext. 249