National Report Card 2010: Inclusion of Canadians with Intellectual Disabilities. Canadian Association for Community Living, 2010.
The Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) has set a vision for Canada to be fully inclusive and accessible for those with disabilities by 2020. To this end, CACL has adopted 10 objectives to guide Canadians and our governments in building a more inclusive Canada. Every year since 2007, CACL has issued a report card which addresses progress in all 10 objectives.
The 2010 Report Card presents data on three of these objectives: Inclusive Education, Supporting Families and Disability Supports.
1. Achieving Inclusive Education: CACLs vision is that all people with intellectual disabilities are fully included with their peers in regular education, with appropriate supports from early childhood through to post secondary and adult life-long learning.
How Canada is measuring up: This report finds that students with intellectual disabilities are still not fully included in schools. Inadequately supported school and classroom efforts for inclusive education have damaged public perceptions about what inclusive education looks like. With few exceptions, education policies across the country remain primarily based on the model of separate special education. At the post-secondary level, there is uneven and inadequate development of inclusive options across the country. There is a need to develop policies and secure funding to sustain and expand inclusive post-secondary education.
2. Supporting Families: CACLs vision is that families access the supports and opportunities they need to assure inclusion for family members with intellectual disabilities through their lifetimes, and to secure family, social and economic well-being.
How Canada is measuring up: Data presented makes it clear that many families with a child with disabilities do not receive the type or extent of support required. As a result, these Canadian families encounter and endure high levels of stress and experience undue and harsh economic consequences. A more comprehensive family supportive policy agenda, one that has both federal and provincial/territorial components, is desperately needed to address the full range of supports that families need.
3. Accessing Disability Supports: CACLs vision is that all people with intellectual disabilities have access to, and acknowledgement of, the disability-related supports they need to live meaningful lives and contribute as full citizens.
How Canada is measuring up: Data presented indicates that while there is national recognition of the need for disability supports, their provision is still very sporadic, inconsistent and inadequate. Currently the provision of disability supports is largely a Provincial/Territorial jurisdiction. Collective efforts and a better understanding of how the Federal government of Canada can contribute to ensuring access to supports are needed.
The report concludes with some broad statistics. Adults with intellectual disabilities are three times more likely than others in Canada to live in poverty. Further, almost half of adults with intellectual disabilities are welfare recipients, and their employment rates are one-third of those without disabilities. However, if proactively and comprehensively addressed, full access to inclusive education and disability supports could reshape the experience of disability in Canada
This report would be of interest to families of those with intellectual disabilities and their advocates. It is also an important report for policy makers as it details where Canada has made strides in working towards these objectives and where the country is failing, suggesting new policy directions for those with intellectual disabilities.
Review by Debbie Rawson