Survey shows excessive delays and poor financing leaves students struggling
March 28, 2021, Montreal QC - It is with an ongoing sense of frustration that EPCA calls on the Ministry of Education of the Government of Quebec (MEES) to significantly restructure and revamp services for special needs students across our public school system. This position comes after a survey of more than 2000 parents of handicapped children and children with social maladjustments or learning disabilities, who detailed their experiences and perspectives dealing with an outdated and inflexible network of assessments, service requests and insufficient funding.
“This is not a new problem, but it was well past time that it be solved. Students with special needs are among the most vulnerable in our education system, and yet the Ministry’s assessment and funding policies are so dragged down by heavy bureaucratic structure that it can take years to get a decision. In the meantime, our children fall further and further behind in school, waiting for help,” says Katherine Korakakis, president of EPCA. “Focusing on a potential Bill on special needs services is not the right approach. The Government must change its mindset and rebuild the system in its entirety to create a new structure system that works for our kids, so that no family ever has to wait years for an assessment - with all the struggle that brings - ever again.”
According to EPCA’s survey results, approximately 59% of respondents did not have a recognized MEES difficulty code for their children, which means that no additional funding is allocated by MEES to support them. Even for those students who were eventually granted a recognized MEES difficulty code, the delay was extreme. More than 33% of those who received a code had to wait 12 months or more for the diagnosis to be completed. Once the diagnosis was received, more than 20 % had to wait an additional 6 months or more to receive a decision from MEES on coding.
As part of its consultation, EPCA conducted a survey of the wider parent community via social media and through direct contact with parent committee delegates of the 8 member school boards, putting significant effort to pull together perspectives from across Quebec’s anglophone community in spite of the tight timelines imposed by MEES. The survey resulted in a total of 2325 responses between March 15 and March 19, 2021. Of these, 1,435 respondents completed the survey, demonstrating the complexity of both the survey itself and the subject matter. For a summary of the survey results, please visit here.
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