As education in Canada is under the exclusive jurisdiction of provinces and territories, Ministries and Departments of Education in each province and territory have established their own definition of inclusive education. The definitions are mainly applicable to the primary and secondary levels.
Some definitions focus on the values of acceptance and respect of diversity. Northwest Territories describes inclusive education as a means of ensuring all students have their diverse needs met in a responsive, accepting, respectful, and supportive way. In Alberta, inclusive education is defined as “a way of thinking and acting that demonstrates universal acceptance of, and belonging for, all children and students”.
On the other hand, Yukon promotes a student-centered approach in which students’ strengths and challenges are central to decision making. Similarly, Saskatchewan promotes a “needs-based model of inclusive education focused on the strengths, abilities, and needs of individual students”. An inclusive environment is welcoming and accepting of student interests, backgrounds and life experiences. Other provinces and territories emphasize instead the “right” to education. Nunavut’s definition stresses adjustments to the education programs and supports to meet learning needs. It underlines the right of students to participate in all aspects of school life and to have equal access to an appropriate education program that is inclusive and age-appropriate.
Other definitions focus on both dimensions. New Brunswick’s definition describes the system of values and beliefs behind the concept of inclusive education, including student and staff diversity and student-centered learning principles. Its definition puts a strong focus on respect for diversity, irrespective of people’s “race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, place of origin, age, disability, marital status, real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, sex, social condition or political belief or activity”. Moreover, Ontario’s definition is based on the values of equity and inclusion of all students. The definition within the Equity and Inclusive education strategy adds that “students see themselves reflected in their curriculum, their physical surroundings, and the broader environment, in which diversity is honored and all individuals are respected”.
In some provinces the emphasis is put on the groups considered at risk of exclusion, including recent immigrants, children from low-income families, Aboriginal students, boys, and students with special education needs. In British Columbia, inclusion “describes the principle that all students are entitled to equitable access to learning, achievement and the pursuit of excellence in all aspects of their education”. In Manitoba, inclusive education involves “providing all students with the supports and opportunities they need to become participating members of their school communities”. In Nova Scotia inclusive education is a commitment to ensuring a high-quality, culturally and linguistically responsive and equitable education to support the well-being and achievement of every student. In Quebec, the Policy on Educational Success (2017) provides guidelines for inclusion. Orientation 3.1 "Recognize diversity and value everyone’s contribution" emphasizes openness to others and valuing the diversity of individuals. The policy also states that success for all means that inclusion must be at the heart of the concerns and daily practices of the centre and school.
Special education needs
Prince Edward Island and British Columbia use the term students with special needs. In British Columbia, they are “students who have a disability of an intellectual, physical, sensory, emotional or behavioral nature, has a learning disability or has special gifts or talents”. Current guidelines for inclusive education in Quebec consider characteristics and needs of all students, without specific reference to students with special needs. Saskatchewan uses the term “ pupils identified by school divisions as requiring intensive supports” to refer to pupils who have been assessed by a board of education as having a capacity to learn that is compromised by a cognitive, social-emotional, behavioral or physical condition. Similarly, Manitoba uses “students with exceptional learning need” for students who require specialized services because of exceptional learning, social/emotional, behavioral, sensory, physical, cognitive/intellectual, communication, academic, or special health-care needs that affect their ability to meet learning outcomes. In Alberta, the government uses the expression “diverse learning needs” and “students with disabilities.”. In addition, the Nunavut Inclusive education policy refers to “students with high needs” for students who have severe disabilities, usually diagnosed by a medical specialist. Finally, New Brunswick tries to avoid using terminology like “students with special needs”. As stated on Policy 322, the common learning environment must enable “each student to participate fully in a common environment that is designed for all students” (p. 5).
Inclusion of “special-needs students” in regular classrooms is, to varying degrees, part of the educational policy in every jurisdiction in Canada. However, special schools are still present in every province and territories. Some provinces and most communities have separate Catholic public schools and students of any religion can attend. That said, New Brunswick have Alternative education programs and sites for 9 to 12 students deemed unable to receive their personalized learning plans within a school setting for any one of a variety of reasons.
The province of New Brunswick is a pioneer in Canada. The last special primary classes were closed in 1984. The 1986 Act subsequently repealed the Special Education Act, which dates back to 1957 and was intended, among others, to provide educational services to students officially recognized as having an intellectual disability or a severe physical handicap. The inclusive education policy of New Brunswick states that segregated programs and class “must not occur”. In Ontario, most programs are designed to support the integration of students with special needs into regular classrooms. However, the Education Act includes provisions to address the needs of “students with disabilities identified as exceptional pupils”, who often require specific supports and services. In addition, Provincial and Demonstration Schools provide individualized education and specialized programming to students who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, deafblind or students with severe learning disabilities giving these students with special learning needs the opportunity to fully participate in the total school experience. In Yukon, when inclusion is not possible, specialized resource programs provide alternative environments for students with intellectual impairments, multiple handicaps and severe emotional and behavioral difficulties. In British Columbia, students with special needs are integrated with other students, unless the educational needs of the student “indicate that the educational program for the student with special needs should be provided otherwise”. The Saskatchewan Ministry of Education encourages the “creation of educational settings where students are engaged in authentic inclusive learning experiences with age-appropriate peers in their home communities”. In Alberta, educating students with special education needs in the neighborhood inclusive school is the first placement option considered by school boards. Actually, the Education Act sets specific obligations for school boards (public, separate, and francophone regional authorities) charter schools and Designated Special Education Private Schools (through the Private Schools Regulation) as they relate to students who may be in need of specialized supports and services [Section 11(4)]. In addition, school boards are required to provide a continuum of supports and services for students that is consistent with the principles of inclusive education [Section 33(1)(e)]. Further, school boards must have an established policy respecting the resolution of disputes or concerns at the school level between parents and school staff that supports a co-operative and collaborative learning environment for students [Section 41]. Prince Edward Island emphasizes its effort to “educate all learners and not just to place them together with their peers”; however, separate settings still exist. Finally, over the years, Québec where in 2012-2013, all networks combined, less than 1% of students were enrolled in a special school, has developed an increasingly inclusive school system.
The Policy on Educational Success (2017) aims to implement an inclusive approach for all students. As early as 1998, the Special Education Policy (Politique de l’adaptation scolaire) also emphasized the success of all students. The Québec Education Program promotes a global and integrated vision of student learning that recognizes all student learning. In addition, curricula are developed or revised taking into account, from the outset, the diversity of students' needs and abilities, particularly those of students with disabilities or difficulties (p. 18-19).
Canada has no written Constitution in one single document, but several Constitution Acts. Article 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that “every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, sex, age, or mental or physical disability.” The Citizenship Act provides that all Canadians are entitled to the same rights and the Canadian Human Rights Act states that it is illegal to deny access to education. Every jurisdiction has a Human Rights Commission or Fair Practices Office. The Council of Ministers of Education asserts that “all children in our elementary to high school systems deserve teaching and learning opportunities that are inclusive”.
Many provinces and territories have established their own policies of integration or inclusive education. For instance, in 2013, New Brunswick adopted its policy 322 on inclusive education. In 2015, Alberta published its Inclusive education policy. Alberta’s Inclusive Education Policy ensures that that all children and students (Kindergarten to Grade 12), regardless of race, religious belief, colour, gender, gender identity, gender expression, physical disability, mental disability, family status or sexual orientation, or any other factor(s), have access to meaningful and relevant learning experiences that include appropriate instructional supports. In 2009, the Ontario Ministry of Education launched the Equity and inclusive education strategy. This policy requires each school board to identify and remove barriers to actively create conditions needed for student success. Québec’ policy launched in 1998 focuses more on educational integration and intercultural education. The Quebec policy was evaluated in 2008. Following this evaluation, a new action plan was issued. This new plan is accompanied by significant allocations and aims to provide better support to students, teachers, parents and school boards. In Manitoba, the Government launched in 2014 a handbook for resource teachers to support inclusive education. In Saskatchewan, education stakeholders are guided by the following documents: Inclusive education (2017) and Supporting Students with Additional Needs. In 2016, British Columbia wrote procedures and guidelines for special education services, but the document also refers to inclusive education. Finally, the document Inuglugijaittuq Foundation for inclusive education in Nunavut schools (2008) describes the philosophy and principles that form the foundation for inclusion and student support in Nunavut schools. That said, in many provinces and territories, such as Québec, British Columbia and Saskatchewan, inclusion is achieved through Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) or Inclusion and Intervention Plans (IIPs) that are designed, developed and revised in collaboration with the family and the student.
The definition of “students with disabilities” varies across provinces and territories, as well as across school jurisdictions within provinces and territories, and across schools within jurisdictions. Indeed, policy differences include differences in the criteria used to determine the services for which children are eligible. According to Statistics Canada, an individual is considered to have a disability if he or she presents a chronic condition, either a physical disability or a cognitive/emotional disability. This condition diagnosed by a health professional limits the amount or kind of activity that a person can perform.
In Quebec, the Policy on Evaluation of Learning and the Policy on Special Education recommend “pedagogical differentiation” practices that take into account the diversity of students. Several guides and frameworks are produced to support the integration of students with handicaps, social maladjustments or learning disabilities, including Individualized Education Plans: Helping Students Achieve Success (MEQ, 2004), Working with Students with Behavioural Difficulties (MEESR, 2015) and Complementary educational services: Essential to success (2002.
The Ontarians with Disabilities Act (2001) states that educational institutions should prepare each year an accessibility plan in collaboration with students with disabilities. In Saskatchewan, the Education Act of 1995 states that Pupils with intensive needs have the right to receive educational services that are consistent with their needs and abilities. In British Columbia, the Special Education Policy Framework established in 1995, served as the foundation for a manual of policies, procedures and guidelines published in 2016. The province has established different programs for students with disabilities, including the Provincial Outreach Programs for Deaf & Hard of Hearing, Autism and Related Disorders, Deaf-blindness, students with cochlear implants and ATE needs, for students with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, and for students attending residential psychiatric program. Similarly, in Alberta, the government has developed the Inclusive Education Library, which includes extensive programming and resources. Alberta Education has developed a number of resources to support learning for all children and students. These include:
- The Inclusive Education Video Series and Indicators of Inclusive Schools on the Alberta.ca website under Inclusive Education
- Diverse Learning Needs section on the Alberta.ca website
- The Inclusive Education Library, which includes extensive programming resources for teachers such as, curriculum programming, behavior and social participation, medical conditions, specific disabilities information, student support plans, instructional strategies and supports, professional learning, and learning technologies.
- Engaging All Learners, which includes professional learning resources for teachers on how to meet the learning needs of all students
- Positive Behavior Support Series, which include strategies for teaching, supporting, and reinforcing positive behavior in school, classrooms, and individualized supports.
Article 28 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees gender equality. In Ontario, the Education Act states that the Ministry of Education shall establish policies, guidelines and programs which must address pupil behaviors that are inappropriate including bullying, sexual assault, gender-based violence and incidents based on homophobia, transphobia or biphobia. In this regard, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board in partnership with community agencies has set up the Rainbow Coalition, which provides LGBTQI+ students a safe space to socialize, support each other, and discuss concerns. The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) workshop “Building Inclusive Communities in Catholic Schools” is another initiative that gives special attention to LGBTQI+ students and gender diversity in the province. In 2019, the Government of Ontario also released an updated, modernized and inclusive Health and Physical Education curriculum. The Government produced an updated curriculum that leads the nation in mental health awareness, concussions, healthy body image, human trafficking, cybersecurity, and bullying. Other initiatives are also being implemented in the country. In Québec, since 2000, the contest “Hats Off to You!” and its segment “Excellence in Science” showcase the determination and work of women enrolled in a vocational training or technical training program, or a bachelor’s program in science or technology that leads to a career in traditionally male-dominated occupations. The Education Act (Section 35.1) in Alberta outlines the roles and responsibilities of school authorities around supporting Gay Straight Alliances and Queer Straight Alliances – so that students can get the support they need – when they need it. Alberta Education has also developed guidelines to enable school authorities to use best practices in creating and supporting learning environments that respect diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions. In Saskatchewan, the Ministry of Education released a policy statement in 2015, titled Student GSD Alliances in Saskatchewan Schools. The same year a professional learning resource Deepening the Discussion was released to the province. This was followed by the release of the Deepening the Discussion Toolkit in 2018. In the area of gender and sexual orientation, the New Brunswick LGBTQ+ Inclusive Education Resource was created to support all members of the learning community as they seek to create and maintain safe, welcoming and affirming schools
Ethnic and linguistic groups and Indigenous groups
The document Learn Canada 2020 (2008) aimed to eliminate the gap in academic achievement and graduation rates between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students and to promote and implement support programs for minority-language education and second-language programs. The Council of Ministers of Education also released the Early Learning and Development Framework in 2014. The document recognized the links between early years success and early cultural, family and community experiences and exposure to the first language for First Nations, Métis and Inuit (FNMI) children and the necessary French language and cultural exposure for quality early learning for Franco-Canadian students living outside Québec. The CMEC Indigenous Education Plan (IEP), 2019-22, is a three-year strategic plan with four, clear priority areas that builds on work already accomplished under priority initiatives in the previous IEP, 2016–19. IEP, 2019–22 has been designed with a goal to provide a more coordinated, strategic approach for provincial and territorial ministers responsible for education to work together to improve Indigenous education outcomes for all learners. The CMEC Indigenous Education Plan 2015–17 was aimed, among other things, to support the professional development of Aboriginal students interested in pursuing teaching as a career and to develop curriculum and teaching resources focused on Canadian history. In Ontario, there is a focus on raising the awareness in schools about the cultures, histories, and perspectives of First Nation, Métis, and Inuit peoples. The New Brunswick Aboriginal Peoples Council aims to work with all levels of government, public and private agencies and private industry to improve social, educational and employment opportunities for people of Aboriginal Ancestry of New Brunswick. Finally, objective 6 of the New Brunswick’s 10-year Education plan (2016) aims to meet the needs of First Nation learners and ensure that provincial curriculum is reflective of First Nation history and culture.
Official and Indigeneous languages
The Indigenous Languages Act adopted in 2019 aims “to support the reclamation, revitalization, maintaining and strengthening of Indigenous languages in Canada”. In this line of thought, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that “education in the language of the minority is guaranteed at the elementary and secondary levels to members of the minority community everywhere in the country, wherever numbers warrant French and English are also taught as second languages.” Similarly, Article 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the right to minority language education for French or English linguistic minority populations. However, this right is “subject to specific requirements” and this education is supported by public funds “wherever numbers warrant”. In this regard, Section 16.1 of this Charter recognizes the equality of the two official linguistic communities in New Brunswick, “including the right to such distinct educational and cultural institutions as are necessary for the preservation and promotion of those communities”.
Article 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that the Francophone children whose parents qualify for minority language rights are eligible to receive French as the language of instruction. In Québec, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education offers financial measures to enable school boards to fund francization, as well as services that take students' first languages into account. In New Brunswick, admission to an English or French school is based on linguistic proficiency and entitlement. In Saskatchewan, English is the language of instruction in schools and French is the language of instruction in “Fransaskois schools” and in minority language instruction programs. Ontario’s Aménagement linguistique policy for French-language education follows the principle that “French-language education promotes respect for human rights and the rights of minority francophones, as well as for democracy, equality, justice, and dignity”. The Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario provides also programs to newly arrived migrant students. Finally, in Nunavut, since the 1993 Agreement, Education is officially delivered in accordance with the Inuit language and culture. The Official Languages Act guarantees Nunavummiut the right to communicate and obtain services in the official language of their choice.
People living in rural or remote areas
Ontario’s funding formula recognizes that the needs of rural Ontario students and school boards are different from non-rural by providing differentiated funding. Additional funding is provided for teachers, early childhood educators, in-school administration, and school operations in eligible schools and to address the challenges associated with geographic circumstances. Additionally, the Rural and Northern Education Fund provides additional financial support to school boards for the education of students in rural and northern communities. This funding aims to enhance access to transportation options, improve programming and support services and offer technology-enabled learning opportunities. In British Columbia, the Rural Education Report (2017) recommended different measures linked to staff recruitment and retention, including opportunities to collaborate between schools and school districts across the province, and suggests ways to improve access to technological tools, software and supports. Saskatchewan’s Learning Opportunities Program provides additional funding to northern Saskatchewan school divisions for innovative projects that improve Prekindergarten to Grade 12 student outcomes. This initiative is overseen by a Regional Superintendent who supports educational initiatives focused on the success of northern students and communities. Finally, to ensure the maintenance of small primary schools in remote areas, Québec supports the "École en réseau" project, whose main objective is to break the isolation of certain schools.
The Québec Ministry of Education uses two indices to determine the “disadvantaged status” of schools: the low-income cut-off index and the socio-economic background index. The primary objective of the additional funding associated with the disadvantage index is to provide more services to students from disadvantaged backgrounds. These indicators make it possible to reduce classroom ratios and provide more support and assistance services to (disadvantaged) students. They are used to distribute the financial resources allocated to schools equitably. Thus, schools located in disadvantaged areas receive additional resources to give them the means to offer instruction and support that meet the varied needs of students from these areas. In higher education, all provinces and territories have loans and bursaries programs, based on different criteria such as the gross annual family income. In British Columbia, the government provides loans and bursaries for Canadian students, awards for Canadian students with disabilities, and emergency funds. Manitoba Student Aid funds only one certificate, one diploma and one degree, unless the first one was needed to get the second one. In many provinces and territories such as Ontario, additional funding may be available for Indigenous and for students with a disability. Finally, the Canada Student Loans Program provides loans and grants to help Canadian students to pay for their post-secondary education, including students with permanent disabilities and severe permanent disabilities.
The Ontario Student Nutrition Program helps provide healthy breakfasts, snacks and lunches to school-aged kids in about 75% of provincially funded schools across Ontario. The Northern Fruit and Vegetable Program, which runs for 20 weeks a year, increases access to fresh fruits and vegetables for 80,000 students in Northern Ontario, including 9,000 students in over 55 First Nations communities, 35 of which are remote. The Urban Priority High Schools Program, delivered in 40 high schools and across 12 school boards, supports students to overcome personal and academic challenges that hinder their learning, achievement and full participation in school, preparing them to become productive adults. In Saskatchewan, many early childhood development initiatives are offered through the Poverty reduction strategy, including the Child Nutrition and Development Program (CNDP) and the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) which aims to subsidize the cost of licensed child care services.
In Quebec, the Bill n°144 : An Act to amend the Education Act and other legislative provisions concerning mainly free educational services and compulsory school attendance was passed on 9 November 2017. This law provides for undocumented students to attend school. Also, the Young Criminal Justice Act guarantees that youth who are accused of committing a crime are entitled to adequate educational services. In British Columbia, many educational programs are offered to youth enrolled in addiction- treatments program (e.g. Nenqayni Wellness Centre School Program, Daughters & Sisters School Program and Waypoint School Program).
Ontario has worked to improve access and remove barriers to education for First Nation students through the Reciprocal Education Approach (REA), which came into effect on September 1, 2019. Under REA, when requirements are met, students will automatically be admitted into provincially-funded schools, or admission will be made available to First Nation-operated schools, without the need for a contract to be negotiated for basic tuition. REA also clarifies the process for funding additional services and supports (e.g. special education).
Education is an area of exclusive provincial jurisdiction. Under the federal laws that created them, the territories have the same powers. Every province and territory has its own governance mechanisms for inclusive education and local Ministries of Education always play a central role in the governance of inclusive education. Other bodies support the work of these central actors. Since 1967, the ministers responsible for education come together as the Council of Ministers of Education to discuss educational initiatives and common priorities, and represent the educational interests of the provinces and territories in the country and internationally.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development is implementing the Responsive Teaching and Learning Policy for all primary and elementary students starting in September 2020. This policy guides the delivery of student-centered programs and services to support literacy, numeracy, and social-emotional learning of students within a safe and inclusive school community. This policy includes the development and delivery of supports and services to students with identified exceptionalities. For students attending grades 7-12, the Service Delivery Model for Students with Exceptionalities provides an inclusive framework for program delivery. It identifies the prescribed curriculum, accommodations, modified prescribed curriculum and alternate programs, courses, and curriculum. The education of students with exceptionalities is a shared responsibility among school staff, parents and the community at large. The Service Delivery Model for Students with Exceptionalities describes programming options for students who meet the criteria for an exceptionality as defined by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. The individual support services planning process is an interdepartmental process used to identify a child’s/youth’s strengths and needs and to prepare an integrated approach to meet those needs. It is a collaborative process involving the child/youth, the parent and service providers including personnel from schools, government, and other relevant agencies working with the child/youth.
In Ontario, the Special Education Tribunals make final and binding decisions concerning the identification or placement of “exceptional pupils”. Similarly, in Nunavut, the district education authorities can be responsible for mediation between stakeholders to ensure the right to inclusive education. Parents and students can request mediation if they believe the student should/should not be in a regular instructional setting or if they are not satisfied with the services and accommodations provided. In Alberta, after appealing to their local school board, parents may request the Minister of Education to review a board’s decision about the provision of specialized supports and services. In addition, school boards in Alberta may request the Minister of Education establish a Complex Education Needs Tribunal to develop an education program for a student when they are unable to provide the specialized supports and services needed to support the student’s learning. Furthermore, in Nova Scotia, there is an Inclusive Education Policy which provides clear, consistent direction with respect to inclusive education and equitable practices in public schools. This policy is supported by policies, guidelines, and procedures to assist in its implementation. Finally, in New Brunswick, superintendents establish school-based and district-based education support services teams, led by the Director of Education Support Services, which includes district education support teachers, subject coordinators, psychologists, speech-language therapists, social workers and other staff that provide support to implement inclusive education practices. In parallel, the government of New Brunswick has also adopted a child and youth-centered Integrated Services Delivery (ISD) framework to improve educational services and programs. Multidisciplinary teams composed of professionals from various fields (e.g. psychology, social work and education) work together.
Other non-institutional actors play an important role. Inclusive Education Canada is an NGO committed to quality education for all students in inclusive schools and classrooms. Inclusion BC and the Prince Edward Island Association for Community Living, for instance, are NGOs working with partners to enhance the lives of youth with special needs and disabilities and their families by promoting their rights. In New Brunswick, the Association for Community Living (NBACL) works with policy makers, educators, parents, school district staff and others “to enhance inclusion in schools so that children with an intellectual disability are included in educational and social opportunities in their neighborhood and community schools”.
The greatest challenge encountered in Canada is that the provision of support in inclusive education is not always adequate to the complexity and the scope of the needs. Indigenous Services Canada aims to improve access to high-quality services for First Nations, Inuit and Métis students living on reserve and to support infrastructure-related development projects. Ongoing and completed projects include 73 new school construction projects, 85 renovation and upgrading projects, seven feasibility studies to determine infrastructure needs and nine supporting projects.
The investment plans of the departments of Education in various provinces and territories, including Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador, include investments to build new schools and major renovations to existing schools over the next few years. In Québec, a total of $1.7 billion in financial assistance will enable more than 125 school construction, expansion and redevelopment projects expected to be completed by the summer 2019. These projects target institutions as well as regional schooling services offered to students with handicaps, social maladjustments or learning disabilities.
Students travel to and from school with their parents, on their own or by school bus. School boards are responsible for bus transportation. In Manitoba, “where transportation of pupils is required, it shall be provided for those pupils who would have more than 1.6 kilometers to walk in order to reach school, and, further, provision for transportation from home to school shall be made regardless of distance for those pupils who are unable to walk to school because of physical or other handicaps”. In Prince Edward Island, there is no fee for transportation to and from the school in which the student is enrolled, other than transportation related to a school-sponsored activity.
Canada does not have a national curriculum. In Ontario, the Inclusive education policy “aims to incorporate equity and inclusive education principles reflective of Ontario’s diversity in all curriculum […] and all learning resource documents as appropriate”. In Québec, the Education program for students with a profound intellectual impairments provides the basic reference framework for all pedagogical choices. The Program identifies educational strategies to be used with students with a profound intellectual impairment, such as using meaningful learning contexts, adjusting task complexity (highlighting clues relevant to the task, organizing the task sequentially, reducing physical obstacles to task completion and reducing the length or duration of the task), supporting motivation, emphasizing visual aspects and facilitating the transfer of learning. The Preschool and Elementary Education Program and the Secondary School Education Program provide “student-centered learning that promotes differentiation in inclusive classrooms”. Au Québec, la Politique de la réussite éducative vise l’atteinte du plein potentiel de tous les élèves dans toutes les dimensions, sans égard à sa provenance, à son milieu ou à ses caractéristiques.
ICTs and Learning materials
Schools lend textbooks to their students and parents have to buy school supplies like pencils and paper for their children. In Nunavut, the inclusive education policy aims to provide resources for varied materials and equipment to support learning experiences inside and outside of the school. In Québec, considerable efforts have also been made “to develop teaching materials that take into account the ethnocultural, linguistic and religious diversity”. A procedure has also been developed to examine these materials to ensure that they contain no stereotypes and that they present diversity in a positive light.
The Alberta inclusive education policy underlines the importance of universal supports incorporated into the environment for all learners, such as “flexible learning resources and technologies, differentiated instruction and positive behavior supports”. These supports should directly relate to individual learning needs such as the use of sign language interpreters, alternate and augmentative communication systems or mental health support. In addition, British Columbia Special Education Technology is a service providing technology, technical assistance and training to school district’s supporting students with visual impairments in seven regions. In Ontario, the Alternative Educational Resources Ontario (AERO) department develops and provides learning materials and media in accessible formats for Ontario elementary, secondary, and postsecondary students with perceptual disabilities.
In Ontario, the New Teacher Induction Program helps new teachers to develop the skills they need to create an inclusive learning environment for students. It addresses topics such as equity, gender, race, and culture. In British Columbia, an ongoing staff development plan is mandatory for all teachers so they can meet the special needs of students. In addition, districts have to ensure that all personnel who work with students with special needs “have access to relevant in-service training opportunities in order to foster evidence-informed practice”. In Québec, teacher training is based on key competencies. Competence 7 is intended to take into account social representations and differences and to adapt teaching practices and Competence 12 aims to demonstrate ethical and responsible professional behavior, without discrimination. Quebec is currently developing a new professional competency framework for teachers. One of the competencies calls on teachers to implement differentiation strategies within an inclusive education framework to foster the full participation and success of all students. Another core competency of the new framework calls on teachers to act as ethical professionals with respect for diversity.
Colleges offer their personnel professional development and sensitization activities to help teachers address the question of diversity, and especially ethnocultural diversity, in their educational services to students. Furthermore, the Superior Council developed a toolkit (2019) that contains a series of training and information tools intended for elementary and secondary school teams that wish to pursue their reflection on what actions to take to move towards a more inclusive model of education. In Manitoba, the Public Schools Act states that the school boards shall address training for teachers and other staff about bullying prevention, and strategies for promoting respect for human diversity. Alberta’s professional practice standards identify the competency requirements for teachers, leaders and superintendents. These standards describe the competencies (including establishing inclusive learning environments) expected. The competencies in all three professional practice standards will ensure a consistent set of skills for teachers and leaders at all system levels.
The Special Education program at University of British Columbia concerns the education of students with exceptionalities, such as students with visual impairments, developmental disabilities, emotional or behavioral disorders, learning disabilities, gifts and talents, and those who are deaf or hard of hearing. On the other hand, the University of Manitoba offers a master program in Inclusive education covering several areas.
In Ontario, the York Region Catholic District School Board has carried out training for teachers on “Building Inclusive Communities in Catholic Schools”. Special attention is given to issues related to LGBTQI. Several other school boards, including Halton and Niagara, are also using this training workshop. In addition, the “Conseil scolaire de district catholique du Nouvel-Ontario” provides sensitivity training to school staff so they can support Grade 7 to 12 students who are at risk of suicide.
In many provinces, such as Manitoba and New Brunswick, resource teachers play a central role, including co-teaching in teacher training. They support teachers and students in the implementation of appropriate educational programming within an inclusive learning environment. In New Brunswick, the department has implemented a Provincial Autism Training Framework that supports educational personnel to implement evidence-based interventions to support students with autism within an inclusive context.
In British Columbia, each ministry is required by the Budget Transparency and Accountability Act to issue an annual report showing how the goals and objectives are met. Québec Ministry of Education produces an annual management report. In Alberta, the Ministry of Education publishes an Annual Report and an Annual Report Update. In New Brunswick, the inclusive education policy states that superintendents must monitor and evaluate the performance of each school on inclusive education. In Alberta, school authorities consistently measure success and progress, called the Accountability Pillar. The Accountability Pillar uses 16 measures that show communities how schools and school authorities are performing each year. Schools and school authorities use the results to identify areas for improvement and to help build their education plans. There are required outcomes and performance measures related to categories such as safe, caring and inclusive learning environments, student learning achievement and high school completion rates.
Alberta went further by publishing the document “Indicators of Inclusive Schools”, which is organized around five dimensions: establishing inclusive values and principles; building inclusive learning environments; providing supports for success; organizing learning and instruction; engaging with parents and the community Le Québec dispose de mesures lui permettant d’avoir une vue globale sur certains indicateurs relatifs à l’éducation inclusive; the number of schools in disadvantaged areas and of students with a migrant background; the rate of students with disabilities in higher education; and the rate of integration of students with handicaps, social maladjustments and learning disabilities into regular classrooms.
This profile has been revised by the country. Thanks to the Permanent Delegation of Canada to UNESCO for its follow-up with the Government of Canada and the provinces.