Update: Although the election is over, you can still contact your MPP to ask about a new bill.
A Letter from Mary Cunningham, FASD ONE Education Action Group Co- Lead
Dear FASD-informed Ontarians:
Many of us care for Ontario students with FASD or know people who are caregivers. Most of us would agree that the education currently provided for our 50,000 Ontario students with FASD is not meeting their needs. As a now retired secondary school educator and the mother of a person with FASD I see this very clearly. This is how it was for our “child” (now an adult) who left school in grade 10, never to return. And this is what I saw in my own thirty years as a teacher, department head, textbook author, and then another 25 years as an FASD educator locally, nationally and internationally. Education for ALL students with FASD must be improved. We can no longer discard these students. Instead, we need their education to make them functional, positive community members. We can and will do better. YOU can help this happen during the remaining campaign period before the June 2, 2022 Election.
We now know what 21st century, brain-based, successful education for students with FASD looks like. We just don’t do this very well yet and we won’t until a serious curriculum of FASD training for all educators in Ontario becomes LEGALLY MANDATORY. This is not “once and done” FASD training. That will not work. But on-going, repetitive training until an educator “understands and can do it” works.
The 2020 FASD & Education Bill 172 required:
- All Ontario Boards of Education to develop policies and guidelines with respect to FASD. These were continuing in-service policies/guidelines – not “once and done” efforts.
- All Teachers’ Colleges and Early Childhood Education programs to provide training with respect to FASD to graduate from these Pre-service programs.
But Bill 172 “died on the Order Paper” on May 4, 2022 when Doug Ford called the June 2, 2022 election. Ineffective education for 50,000 students with FASD in Ontario is simply not an option anymore. So, let’s get organized to support a re-numbered Bill 172 and this time make sure it passes.
Here is what we need you to do to help
- Identify the main candidates in your riding.
- Who is likely to be the winner?
- Would any be able to help us start up a new Bill and get it passed?
Find out how much they know about FASD. If they are short on information, try to fill in some of their gaps. Share this post or any of the information with friends and ask for their help. And please be safe and make sure any first-time face-to-face meetings are in public places.
Places to Get Information:
CanFASD: Ontario 2022 Election Toolkit
Background Information about previous FASD Education Bills:
FASD Ontario: What you need to know about Bill 172 (2020)
Our Sacred Breath post: FASD Education Bill 172 passes 2nd Reading (2020)
Our Sacred Breath post: Second Reading of Bill 172 – FASD and the Education Act (2020)
Our Sacred Breath post: Bill 191: Still waits for a 2nd reading (2018)
Ideas/Places to Share Information:
- Share this Post or graphics (below) on Social Media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other places or with people you think could help pass a new Bill 172.
- Make handouts or posters. Use your imagination.
- Ask friends to help with ALL the election candidates in your riding. They won’t all win but if they become FASD-informed they can still help spread the word about FASD.
- Write a letter your local print media or contact your local radio station to explain why our children with FASD MUST be better supported at school and how a new Bill will help.
- Introduce your children with or without FASD to local candidates IF and as appropriate.
- Use information from this post or the Let’s Pass a FASD Bill in Ontario NOW from FASD ONE (see below).
Let’s Pass an FASD Bill in Ontario NOW!
The following information (with a couple updated stats) is from the Education Action Group (EAG) from FASD ONE. With thanks to the EAG’s & ALLAN MOUNTFORD for the original research.
THREE FASD/Education Private Members’ Bills have been tabled in Ontario since 2017. All three have died on the Order Paper as governments moved on, leaving educators unprepared! These three bills were all designed to ensure that Ontario Educators would be trained to be able to provide essential 21st century brain-based, FASD-informed education to affected students.
Bill 191: 2017-12-13 MPP S. Kiwala – Legislature prorogued March 15/18. Bill 191 DEAD!
Bill 44: 2018-04-11 MPP S. Kiwala – Legislature dissolved May 18/18. Bill 44 DEAD!
Bill 172: 2020-02-18 MPP K. Wynne – Legislature dissolved May 4/22. Bill 172 DEAD!
WHY WE MUST REPLACE ONTARIO FASD EDUCATION BILL 172 NOW:
- FASD is our MOST COMMON developmental condition. YOU know someone with it.
- FASD impacts approximately 4% of the Canadian population, more than Autism/ASD, Down Syndrome, Tourette Syndrome, and Cerebral Palsy combined. (CanFASD, 2018)
- In January 2021 Statistics Canada estimated the Canadian population at 38,526,760. At an incidence of 4% that equals at least 1,541,070 Canadians have FASD.
- Researchers estimate that each individual with FASD costs society about $2 million extra over their lifetime, for special education, health problems, psychotherapy & counselling welfare, crime, and the criminal justice system. (FASworld Canada)
- The extra social and economic costs of supporting individuals with FASD in Canada is estimated to be $1.8 billion/year. (CAMH, 2015)
- Up to 90% of people with FASD will experience a mental health illness. Anxiety and Depression are most common. (CanFASD, 2020)
- 68% of students will have disrupted school experiences (suspension, expulsion, drop out). (Streissguth et al, 1996)
- The major of individuals with FASD have no visible features, but all have challenges trying to function according to social and institutional expectations for neurotypicals. (based on statement made by CAMH-Addiction & Mental Health)
- FASD affects up to 5% of students in the Ontario school system. (Popova, CAMH, 2019)
- Research indicates that students with FASD need education strategies that are different from current Behaviour and Special Education programs at school. (Duke University)
- Individuals with FASD can have positive outcomes if their needs and challenges are addressed early in life & good support continues into adulthood. (CanFASD, 2018)
- Success at School is a prerequisite for students with FASD to succeed at LIFE! (EAG)
We have the infrastructure needed to institute a new bill to replace FASD Bill 172. Students, educators and schools are all in place. Universities and Colleges already have programs for educator training. There are knowledgeable and qualified experts in the province who can train. The only cost will be developing the modules for training. The costs to do this will be miniscule when measured against the benefits of properly supporting 1,000s of students with FASD.
A final thought: Please don’t blame the teachers! I assure you most of them don’t know they don’t know about FASD!
After the Election
Please let Mary Cunningham, FASD ONE Education Action Group Co- Lead, know what you found out in your riding:
- Who won? How well do they understand FASD?
- Do they support good education for students with FASD?
- Could they help us get another FASD Education Bill up and running?
- Do they understand WHY it is important to educate the educators about FASD?
- How can we contact your new MPP?
Information can be emailed to Mary: firstname.lastname@example.org
FASD ONE: Call to Action Guide
Although not about the Education Bill, this document from 2014 has great infor,atipm obtain from a series of Roundtables and outlines the following 5 areas suggested for inclusion in a provincial FASD strategy. Only minimally adopted by our current government, it still needs to be fully accepted and implemented:
- AWARENESS and PREVENTION: Ontarians will receive accurate information regarding the risks of alcohol use during pregnancy, together with timely access to the services they require to abstain from or limit alcohol use in pregnancy.
- ASSESSMENT and DIAGNOSIS: Individuals with prenatal alcohol exposure, regardless of their age, will have access to timely assessment and diagnostic services and a coordinated, informed response that is appropriate, effective, and linguistically and culturally sensitive.
- INTERVENTION and SUPPORT: Children, youth, adults and their caregivers will have ready access to culturally sensitive resources and services designed to address and accommodate their individual lifelong needs.
- KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER and CAPACITY ENHANCEMENT: FASD education and training will be made readily available to both current and future families/ caregivers and service providers in all service sectors.
- RESEARCH and EDUCATION: Services and resources will be evidence based, effective, culturally appropriate and inclusive of those with FASD.
Please feel free to share any of these graphics to raise awareness.
It is time for this Bill to be passed. It is too late for my daughter. School was not a welcoming place for her. Elementary, Secondary or even a College program designed for Students with Developmental Disabilities. It was one of my 12 Wishes for My Daughter and FASD: 2020 Wishes for My Daughter and FASD: #4 Recognition in the School System. It’s not too late for the students now and to come.