Where does all this leave us?

Right now, in Ontario, there are over 16,000 young people with autism awaiting services.

Right now, the government has authorized a pay cut to more than 15,000 education workers in Ontario for taking job action. Job action – they have not stopped doing their jobs; they are still fulfilling their duties as prescribed in their last negotiated contract (which ended August 31, 2014). They are continuing to fulfill their duties even without a new contract, even though they, along with all education workers in Ontario, are being maligned in the media.

There are a number of other groups who represent education workers (who are not teachers) also without contracts. This includes my own independent union with members who are Early Childhood Educators and teaching assistants. We work with many of those 16,000 young people awaiting services. For those students, we are their only service. And their future is being risked by the fact that the government is continuing to drag their feet and not provide enough in-school support or social services outside of the school day.

I cannot help but feel that the government is ignoring the most vulnerable here – children. I know that adult services are also lacking. There are not enough facilities for adults with disabilities to live in, there are not enough specialized health care workers – the list goes on and on.

The headlines today, though, point out how much the government is turning its back on the future of our province – our young people. Children in kindergarten need space and guidance to grow – not one educator in a room with 35 children. Children with disabilities and mental health issues and behavioural concerns deserve an education that is not shoe horned in after all the governmental mistakes are paid off.

I need to know that the government still believes in the right of every child to have an education that meets their needs. That every child with autism deserves the services that will allow them to tap into their strengths and find strategies to deal with their greatest areas of need.

I most definitely do not know that to be true today.

The government has accused education workers of using children as pawns: let’s face it – the government are Masters at the game of public perception chess and we are all being rooked.