Human and youth rights commission questions treatment of situations of discrimination
In November, Education Minister Jean-François Roberge tabled Bill 9, An Act Respecting the National Student Ombudsman, which involves a restructuring of the current ombudsman model in schools as well as the appointment of a National (provincial) ombudsman to oversee the regional representatives.
While the Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission considers the bill a step in the right direction towards strengthening respect for students’ rights, commission president Philippe-André Tessier questioned the treatment that the provincial student ombudsman will give to complaints relating to discrimination, including those of students with disabilities, students with social maladjustments or learning difficulties, and racialized students.
In a statement published Wednesday reacting to the bill, Tessier pointed out, “without a true consideration of discrimination, the conclusions and recommendations made by the student ombudsman would risk missing their target,” he said. “The relationship between discrimination and denial of services seems to be completely obscured by the bill. For example, when students with special needs or racialized students do not have access to services adapted to their condition, this is often the result of persistent prejudices about their ability to undertake and succeed in school,” explained the president.
According to a Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission press release, in the last five years, the Commission has opened 147 investigation files concerning access to and delivery of pre-school, primary or secondary education services.
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