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425 Bloor Street East, Suite 110          (416) 482-8255 (Main)         1 (866) 482-ARCH (2724) (Toll Free)
Toronto, Ontario M4W 3R5                  (416) 482-1254 (TTY)          1 (866) 482-ARCT (2728) (Toll Free)
www.archdisabilitylaw.ca                  (416) 482-2981 (Fax)          1 (866) 881-ARCF (2723) (Toll Free)
                                                                                         9 November 2007


Safe Schools Act is Amended                              students who are expelled must be assigned
By Roberto Lattanzio, Staff Lawyer                       to a program.

The Ministry of Education undertook a review             In August 2007, the Government also
of Part XIII - Behaviour, Discipline and Safety          enacted Regulation pursuant to the new
of the Education Act, which is commonly                  legislative amendments to the Education Act.
referred to as the Safe Schools Act. This                One of the more egregious impacts of the
review culminated in the release of Bill 212,            Safe Schools Act has been the arbitrary
An Act to amend the Education Act in respect             exclusion of students with disabilities from
of behaviour, discipline and safety. The public          school, for an indefinite period of time, with no
consultation for Bill 212 was conducted in               appeal or review process available. ARCH
May 2007 before the Standing Committee on                has made numerous submissions on this
General Government but the very short notice             point. The Government has now addressed
and time period allowed for oral and written             this concern in an amendment to Regulation
submissions meant that the community did                 474/00 so that students enrolled in the school
not have sufficient opportunity to be heard.             (or attending a program for suspended or
ARCH made oral submissions to the                        expelled students) can no longer be denied
Committee on May 16, 2007 and made                       access to the premises pursuant to s. 305.
written submissions on May 17th. The Bill                ARCH is pleased that the Government has
received Royal Assent on June 4, 2007.                   finally made this amendment to ensure that
                                                         students with disabilities are no longer
Among the criticisms of Bill 212 is that it does         excluded from school due to their disability-
not   fundamentally      alter   the     current         related behaviour. It is equally important to
problematic     framework      and    fails     to
substantially address the discriminatory effect           INSIDE THIS ISSUE
currently experienced by marginalized youth.
Students from racialized communities and                  01      Safe Schools Act is Amended
students     with   disabilities   have      long         02      “Education for All”? Not if you are Deaf
experienced the discriminatory impact of the
                                                          04      Changes Needed for Students with
Safe Schools Act. The Bill addresses some
                                                                  Chronic Health Conditions
concerns but questions remain as to whether
                                                          05      Navigating the Student Loan System in
the changes are sufficient. Among the                             Ontario for Students with Disabilities
changes made by the Bill are that teachers
                                                          16      Report Released on Flaws of Student
can no longer suspend students, principals                        Loan Program
can no longer expel students, and that
                                                          16      Online Database of Free or
students suspended for more than 5 days and                       Inexpensive Adaptive Technology


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ARCH Alert                          www.archdisabilitylaw.ca                       9 November 2007
ensure that this type of discriminatory
exclusion does not continue under a different          Bill 212, Regulation 472/07, and the
guise.                                                 amendments made to Regulation 474/00 will
                                                       come in force February 1, 2008. To view this
Another regulation enacted in August 2007,             legislation, use the links below:
Regulation 472/07, sets out among other
things, the list of mitigating factors that need       Bill 212:
to be considered when assessing the                    http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/bills/bills_detail.do
seriousness of a pupil‟s activity for which            ?locale=en&BillID=1618&isCurrent=false&Par
suspension       or   expulsion     are    being       lSessionID=
considered. What is new in this regulation is
that additional factors to consider have been          Regulation 474/00
set out. This list is more comprehensive and           http://www.e-
includes the following:                                laws.gov.on.ca/html/regs/english/elaws_regs_
                                                       000474_e.htm
       1. The pupil‟s history.
                                                       Regulation 472/07:
       2. Whether a progressive discipline
                                                       http://www.e-
       approach has been used with the
                                                       laws.gov.on.ca/html/regs/english/elaws_regs_
       pupil.
                                                       070472_e.htm
       3. Whether the activity for which the
       pupil may be or is being suspended or           
       expelled was related to any
       harassment of the pupil because of his          “Education for All”? Not if you are
       or her race, ethnic origin, religion,           Deaf
       disability, gender or sexual orientation        This article was written by a parent of a Deaf
       or to any other harassment.                     child on behalf of the Ontario Association of
                                                       the Deaf
       4. How the suspension or expulsion
       would affect the pupil‟s ongoing
                                                       (Editor’s note: ARCH Disability Law Centre
       education.
                                                       would like to thank the Ontario Association of
       5. The age of the pupil.                        the Deaf for submitting this article.)
       6. In the case of a pupil for whom an
       individual education plan has been              During the provincial election campaign
       developed,                                      earlier this fall, the Ministry of Education was
                                                       making promises that the Liberal party‟s
          i. whether the behaviour was a               priority is “Education for All” but do these
          manifestation of a disability                promises have any substance?
          identified in the pupil‟s individual
          education plan,                              In the case of Deaf education the answer is
          ii. whether appropriate                      no. The new Regulation 258/07 made under
          individualized accommodation has             the Education Act attempts to appease
          been provided, and                           persons who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing with
                                                       empty promises of access to American Sign
          iii. whether the suspension or               Language in our local schools. Once again,
          expulsion is likely to result in an          the government had an opportunity to do the
          aggravation or worsening of the              right thing and chose not to.
          pupil‟s behaviour or conduct.
          O. Reg. 472/07, s. 3.

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ARCH Alert                          www.archdisabilitylaw.ca                         9 November 2007
Most people would agree that we have a                  Education was encouraging school boards to
basic human right to access education. We               offer American Sign Language in schools.
pay our taxes and we expect that when we                The regulation says “may” and in law this
enroll our children in a publicly funded school,        means literally that “you don‟t have to do it”.
their needs will be met. Simply put, we expect          Boards know this and the Deaf community
their basic human rights will not be violated.          knows this too.
For children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
enrolled in school boards, their human rights           Literally, this new regulation is full of empty
are being violated on a daily basis.                    words and does not change a thing. Boards
                                                        that currently forbid the use of sign language
What is wrong?                                          will just indicate it is not “practical to do so”
                                                        and children still do not have sign language
Everybody loves sign language when it is                as an option for their education at their local
done at a School Concert or recital – all the           school. Many deaf teachers are also not
children signing along with their teachers to           allowed to use sign language in boards even
“Silent Night”. However, as a language of               though this is their first language; this is an
instruction – American Sign Language is                 outright violation of their human rights.
forbidden.
                                                        Language experts will tell you that the more
Some school boards openly refuse to offer               languages a child is exposed to the better but
American Sign Language as a language of                 oral educators ignore this research.
instruction, even though it is written in the
Education Act, for children who are Deaf or             Should a child have a right to learn how to
Hard of Hearing. Instead, non-certified board           speak? Yes, of course but they should also
teachers and principals tell parents that if they       have a right to access information in as many
want their children enrolled at their local             ways as possible including American Sign
school, they are forced to enroll their child in        Language.
an oral program with no access to sign
language.                                               Many deaf children with cochlear implants are
                                                        forbidden to use sign language, which affects
In other words, if I live in Thunder Bay and I          their linguistic achievements and may cause
want my child to learn through American Sign            mental health issues.
Language, as a language of instruction, I
have to send my child to either Belleville,             Why is it so acceptable then for hearing
Milton or London in a residential school                babies to learn sign language and not deaf
program Monday – Friday and only see my                 babies?
child on weekends. How is this “Education for
All” when I have to send my child away so he            Sign language is clearly a human right and an
or she may have their basic human rights                educational right of Deaf Children. Our
met?                                                    government should respect this right and be
                                                        clear with educators that they do not want to
Recently the government released Regulation             violate the rights of all children including
258/07 that stated where it is “practical to do         those who are deaf.
so… a teacher or temporary teacher may
(but do not have to) use American Sign                  For more information on the right to ASL in
Language or Quebec Sign Language in the                 schools see:      http://www.omegait.net/slr-
classroom…”. This regulation was created                canada/en/flyers/msgschoolboard.pdf .
to give the illusion that the Minister of

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ARCH Alert                       www.archdisabilitylaw.ca                       9 November 2007

                                                   Young people with chronic health conditions
Changes Needed for Students with                     may not realize they qualify for special
Chronic Health Conditions                            services, or may not be able to convince their
By Margaret Parlor, Myalgic                          school board that they do.
Encephalomyelitis Association of Ontario
                                                     The Minister of Education needs to clarify this
(Editor’s note: ARCH Disability Law Centre           situation.
would like to thank Margaret Parlor for her
contribution as guest co-author.)                    Daily Physical Activity

Education programs for students with                 On 6 October 2005, the Minister of Education
chronic health conditions                            introduced a policy requiring 20 minutes of
                                                     Daily Physical Activity for all elementary
Under the Education Act, the Minister of             students.
Education is responsible for ensuring that all
„exceptional‟ students have available to them        The assumption behind the policy is that
special education programs and special               activity is healthy for all students. Although
education services.                                  the policy states, “all activities must be
                                                     adapted, as appropriate, to ensure that
The Minister does this by defining categories        students with special needs can participate in
of exceptionality, then telling School boards        them. Such adaptations must be consistent
that they must:                                      with       the     accommodations        and/or
                                                     modifications that are typically found in a
   1) submit Special Education Plans                 student's Individual Education Plan”, the
   describing their programs for each                policy does not provide any exemptions to
   category of exceptionality, and                   the requirement that students receive “at least
                                                     twenty minutes of sustained moderate to
   2) set up an "Identification, Placement           vigorous daily physical activity during
   and Review Committee" (IPRC) process              instructional time” .
   so that students can qualify for special
   education under these categories.                 Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) which is also
                                                     known as "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome" is not
Where do students with chronic health issues         common among elementary students, but it
who can attend school only part time or are          does occur. One of the defining symptoms of
homebound fit under these categories?                ME is "post-exertional fatigue". This means
According to the Minister, they fit under the        that if a student with ME is pushed beyond his
"Physical Disability" category.                      or her limit, the health ramifications can be
                                                     severe.
Unfortunately, not many school boards see it
that way. If you look at Special Education           Often ME is unrecognized and undiagnosed.
Plans from across the province, generally            Such daily exercise can exacerbate the
available on School Board web-sites, you will        child‟s condition and the student will attempt
find that boards rarely define physical              to avoid it, but the policy makes exercise
disabilities broadly enough to include these         mandatory.
students, and rarely consider part-time and
homebound instruction as special education           The Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Association of
programs for physically disabled students.           Ontario has asked the Ministry of Education

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ARCH Alert                       www.archdisabilitylaw.ca                         9 November 2007
to give teachers greater discretion to excuse        disabilities     who     experience     financial
students from the policy requirement, and to         difficulties during and after the completion of
make teachers aware that exercise may be             their studies. Reviewed below are some of
inappropriate for some students as well as the       the available financial resources to students,
need to provide a more balanced picture of           and a brief survey of particular aspects of the
the benefits of exercise in the reference            Ontario      Student     Assistance    Program
material it provides to teachers.                    ("OSAP") and the Canada Student Loan
                                                     Program ("CSLP"), including: OSAP loan
The Ministry of Education has informed us as         overpayment        policies,    medical     loan
follows:                                             forgiveness, and available resources.

   "It is important to remember that no child        Persons with Disabilities and the Duty to
   should be required to participate in              Accommodate
   inappropriate levels of exercise nor should
   they need to be removed from school to            Persons with disabilities account for over 12%
   avoid participation. Communication with           of the Canadian population. Although the
   parents and with school staff is important        number seems relatively high, it is
   in determining any accommodations and             nevertheless a startling reality that this
   adaptations to daily physical activities.         population continues to experience social,
   Helping young people lead healthy, active         economic and systemic barriers to their full
   lives is a shared responsibility in which         inclusion in society. When it comes to
   schools play a critical role and daily            pursuing post-secondary education, the
   physical activities is only one of the            situation is no different. Students with
   components of the government‟s Healthy            disabilities may be forced to take a longer
   Schools Initiative."                              time to complete their studies, they face
                                                     additional financial barriers compounded by
The Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Association of         their disability, and encounter further
Ontario would like to see the policy adjusted        obstacles when trying to seek and maintain
to reflect this position.                            employment.

                                                   The Government of Canada acknowledges
                                                     that a systemic failure to accommodate is a
Navigating the Student Loan System                   key obstacle to social inclusion for persons
in Ontario for Students with                         with disabilities. Likewise, the Supreme Court
Disabilities                                         of Canada recognized the history of
By Michelle Kushnir and Emma Michael,                marginalization      towards     persons    with
summer law students at ARCH Disability Law           disabilities and the existence of persistent
Centre                                               social and economic barriers. Barriers such
                                                     as the unequal access to opportunities for
(Editor’s Note: ARCH would also like to thank        social advancement, offensive stereotyping,
Carol Krause a volunteer law student who             consignment to institutions, exclusion or
provided assistance in the research and              exploitation     within   the    labour   force,
interviewing for this paper)                         paternalistic perceptions of pity, and entrance
                                                     into society conditioned upon an emulation of
Introduction                                         able-bodied norms all provide for these
                                                     adverse circumstances.
This article is intended as a general resource
for college and university students with

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ARCH Alert                          www.archdisabilitylaw.ca                        9 November 2007
There is a legal duty to accommodate                     requirements. Among the criteria are the
persons with disabilities in Canada. The                 requirements of: being a Canadian citizen, a
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms                  Permanent Resident of Canada or a
guarantees        equality   under      the   law.       Protected Person; meeting the Ontario
Furthermore, the Canadian Human Rights Act               residency requirements; and being enrolled or
as well as the Ontario Human Rights Code                 planning to enroll in an approved post-
legislate towards the equal and full inclusion           secondary institution. A full breakdown of loan
of all citizens, regardless of ability. The recent       eligibility requirements can be found on the
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities            OSAP website.
Act, 2005 aims at producing standards that
would       remove     barriers    and      ensure       How Loans are Calculated
accessibility in Ontario. The need for barrier-
removal, and ultimately a universal design               Once eligibility for the program has been
approach, is no more evident than in such a              established, the OSAP loan formula is used
fundamental area as education. In an area as             to calculate the loan amount for which the
significant as education, principles of inclusive        student qualifies. Students classified as
design must be adopted and the additional                dependants will require parental tax
accommodation of students with disabilities is           information, as OSAP assumes an expected
required in order to provide equal opportunity.          financial contribution by parents. In 2005, the
The following sets out resources available to            expected parental contributions for OSAP
persons with disabilities pursuing a post-               calculations were lowered. The formula is as
secondary education.                                     follows: Financial Need = Allowable
                                                         Educational Expenses – Expected Financial
Government Funded Financial Resources                    Contributions.       Allowable      educational
                                                         expenses include tuition, fees, books and
To aid in the pursuit towards post-secondary             equipment, personal living allowance, and
education, the provincial and Federal                    child care allowance. There is now also an
governments work jointly to offer affordable             allowance     for    computer     costs.   The
student loans. The Ontario and Federal                   government has set maximum limits for these
Governments provide interest free loans while            educational expenses, and as such, the
students at designated colleges and                      OSAP website acknowledges that OSAP
universities pursue their studies. Student loan          funding may not cover a student‟s total
programs are integrated in this Province,                educational and living costs. The maximum
meaning that in practice, a student will                 allocation for a full-time, single student with
receive one loan that includes funding from              no dependents at a public institution is $350
both levels of government and repays this                per week of study.
loan to the National Student Loans Centre.
The Canada Student Financial Assistance Act              How Long You Can Qualify
and the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges
and Universities Act, and their regulations,             Though approve a loan after this time to
govern the CSLP and OSAP respectively.                   accommodate a person with a disability. For a
                                                         students will typically not be able to receive
Eligibility                                              further loans if they have been receiving
                                                         loans for a total of more than 340 weeks, the
To receive funding under the Ontario Student             Minister can student attending school for two
Assistance Program (OSAP), the program                   typical 16-week terms per year, 340 weeks
which issues the integrated loans in Ontario,            represents approximately 10 years of school.
a student must meet certain eligibility                  For a student with a disability this maximum

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ARCH Alert                         www.archdisabilitylaw.ca                        9 November 2007
can be extended up to 520 weeks on the                 assistance    to   eligible  students    with
federal portion of the loan.                           permanent disabilities to meet educational
                                                       financial demands and living costs. Students
Other OSAP Resources                                   who qualify can receive up to $2000 per loan
                                                       year. A separate application form is not
Provincial and Federal governments provide             required; students with permanent disabilities
additional financial support for students with         will be automatically considered when the
disabilities through a variety of bursaries and        OSAP application is processed.
grants. The following are listed on the OSAP
website:                                               Canada    Study        Grant    for         the
                                                       Accommodation       of    Students         with
OSAP      Bursary   for      Students     With         Permanent Disabilities
Disabilities (BSWD)
                                                       This federally funded grant is awarded to full
Available to full-time and part-time students,         and part-time students with a permanent
this bursary provides non-repayable financial          disability. Although non-repayable, the
assistance for disability related services and         maximum granted amount of $8000 per
equipment. Eligible students qualify for a             academic year is considered taxable income.
taxable amount up to $2000 which can go                The funds are intended to provide assistance
towards the purchase of special equipment,             with expenses related to a student‟s disability,
note takers, tutors, counsellors and other             including the cost of tutors, interpreters,
costs related to a disability. Eligibility             attendant care or special equipment.
requirements can be viewed on OSAP‟s                   Candidates must be eligible for a Canada
website at: http://www.osap.gov.on.ca.                 Student Loan and must fill out a separate
                                                       grant application form. Eligibility criteria and
Ontario Special Bursary Plan(OSBP)                     application form can be found on the OSAP
                                                       website.
The Ontario Special Bursary Plan aims to
assist students with low family incomes who            Bursary for Students with Disabilities
participate in post-secondary studies at an            Attending Out-Of-Country Postsecondary
approved institution on a part-time basis. It is       Institution
premised on the assumption that personal
circumstances impede on the ability to                 Students with disabilities who are attending,
undertake full-time studies, and is designed           or planning to attend, an out-of-country post-
mainly to assist students in receipt of social         secondary education may also be eligible for
assistance through Ontario Works or the                this provincial bursary. Applicant‟s must apply
Ontario Disability Support Program, or those           for a Canada-Ontario Integrated Student
with low family incomes. The maximum                   Loan through the OSAP application process,
allowable, and taxable, amount a student can           qualify and additionally fill out a separate
receive through this program is $2500 per              application. Grants are non-repayable and
loan year. A separate form is required and is          taxable. More information can be found on
available on the OSAP website.                         the OSAP website.

Canada Access Grant for Students with                  Other Resources
Permanent Disabilities
                                                       Post-secondary institutions additionally aid
The Government of Canada, through the                  students using funds collected through tuition
grant Canada Access Grant, provides

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ARCH Alert                          www.archdisabilitylaw.ca                          9 November 2007
fees. These funds may include government                 independent       awards        and     bursaries
funds as well:                                           available to students with disabilities:
                                                         http://www.neads.ca/en/norc/funding/. There
Ontario Trust for Student Support                        are other government programs that may
                                                         assist with disability related costs as well.
The Ontario Trust for Student Support
(OTSS) is a fund created by the provincial               Funding For Social Assistance Recipients
government similar to the previous Ontario
Student Opportunity Trust Fund.               The        Individuals receiving social assistance in the
program helps approved post-secondary                    form of Ontario Works (OW) or Ontario
institutions financially by matching private             Disability Support Program (ODSP) must
dollars raised in order to build university              contact their respective caseworkers to report
endowment funds. The funds are in turn                   loan funding in order to avoid overpayments.
available to students in the forms of bursaries          Recipients are expected to apply for a loan
and the like. Contact your post-secondary                through OSAP to cover education-related
institution for specific financial aid application       expenses as well as personal living costs
procedures.                                              while completing post-secondary studies. If
                                                         OSAP funding is not received once classes
General Awards and Bursaries                             begin, social assistance may still be made
                                                         available, provided that once the OSAP loan
Students with disabilities who find themselves           is received all social assistance payments are
in financial hardship can also apply to a                returned.
variety of bursaries and scholarships not
specifically designated for students with                Generally, for the purpose of ODSP and
disabilities. The OSAP application integrates            social assistance, student loans, grants or
eligibility for other government funded                  awards that are intended and used towards
scholarships such as: the Millennium/Ontario             education-related costs are exempt from
Access Grant, the Ontario Access Grant, and              income classification. Any portion of loans,
the Queen Elizabeth II Aiming for the Top                student or trainee grants, or awards that are
Scholarship. More information is available on            approved by the Director towards the costs of
the OSAP website.                                        education are exempt as income and assets.
                                                         Likewise, Registered Education Savings
Independent Financial Resources                          Plans (RESPs) held by the applicant or the
                                                         recipient of social assistance for the
There are many independent bursaries and                 beneficiary (who must be related by blood,
scholarships also available to students with             marriage or adoption) are exempt as assets.
disabilities. Among them are the Anne
Stafford „Light Up The Future‟ Bursary, which            According to the ODSP Directive, an
is awarded to people who have an intellectual            ODSP/OW recipient who is applying to OSAP
disability, as well as the Gloria Landis                 must identify his/her family‟s estimated
Memorial Bursary, which awards $1000                     income from social assistance during the
annually to a mature student with a learning             study period. When the loan is issued and
disability in a post-secondary program or                received the student must then inform ODSP
accredited vocational institute. These are but           staff about the loan to establish ongoing
two examples among many, visit your                      eligibility, as well as submit an OSAP
school‟s financial aid office as well as the             Assessment Summary form. An OSAP
National Educational Association of Disabled             Assessment Summary form is produced for
Students‟     website,    for     a   list  of           all full-time OSAP applicants who indicate

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ARCH Alert                         www.archdisabilitylaw.ca                          9 November 2007
they, their spouse, or parents are recipients of       province will remain eligible for income
Ontario Works or ODSP.                                 support during the study period, provided
                                                       approval of the absence from Ontario for the
 A student loan from OSAP provides for loans           purpose of attending post-secondary studies
based on two components: educational costs             is provided.
as well as living allowance - which is equal to
the total student loan amount minus direct             OSAP Bursaries which are exempt as income
education costs and transportation costs. It is        and assets under ODSP are as follows:
this living allowance that may impact the level            Ontario Special Bursary
of income support provided by ODSP. As                     Child Care Bursary
long as the recipient remains a student,                   Bursary for Students with Disabilities
OSAP funds for direct school costs and                     Canada Study Grant for Females in
transportation will remain exempt as income.                 Doctoral Studies
OSAP will compare the amount of income                     Canada Study Grant for High-need,
support indicated by an applicant to the                     Part-time Students
standard OSAP living allowance. In most                    Canada Millennium Bursary
cases the social assistance will be greater                Aiming for the Top Tuition Scholarship
and no OSAP living allowance will be
provided. However, it may be the case that             Full-time students with dependants may also
the OSAP living allowance exceeds the                  be eligible for the Canada Study Grant for
income support received through social                 Full-time Students with Dependants. Although
assistance. In this case recipients should             it is not expected that recipients of social
know that there is an option to decline with no        assistance with dependants will meet the
impact on a recipient‟s income support. If the         criteria for this grant, if eligible, any amount
living allowance is accepted, however, than            that exceeds direct school costs and
the allowance is treated as income under               transportation costs will be considered as
ODSP and will be deducted dollar for dollar            income.
from the income support through the duration
of the study period.                                   Also, a recipient of income support who is
                                                       also receiving Assistance for Children with
Dependent adults in full-time attendance at a          Severe Disabilities (ACSD) can continue to be
post-secondary school are required to apply            eligible for ACSD if determined to be eligible
to OSAP for financial assistance. Although             and through a change in case class. When
these loans include a living allowance, they           applying for an OSAP loan ACSD should not
do not include a shelter component and are             be identified as income.
entirely exempt as income and assets.
Likewise, part-time students with less than            If you are a recipient of social assistance,
40% course load are eligible for a Part-time           contact your caseworker for further details
Canada Student Loan or a Canada Study                  regarding the process. Additionally, take a
Grant for High-Need Part-time Students,                look at the Ministry of Community and Social
which are also exempt as income and assets.            Service‟s website for a closer look at ODSP
OSAP      loans    for    part-time     students       initiatives. It is also important to visit the
additionally do not include a shelter                  financial aid office at your school to fill out all
component but rather provide for direct school         necessary forms to be eligible for funding.
costs and miscellaneous support for the                Contact the centre for students with
student plus local transportation. An ODSP             disabilities, available at most Ontario
recipient who attends, or plans to attend, a           designated universities and colleges.
post-secondary     institution    outside    the

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ARCH Alert                          www.archdisabilitylaw.ca                          9 November 2007
Overpayment And Alternatives                             Ontario         Human         Rights       Code.
                                                         Accommodations must be made for students
For students with disabilities, particularly             with a disability in order to assist with
episodic disabilities during their studies, loans        disability-related difficulties. In this way a
often cause problems resulting in loan                   student with a disability who encounters
overpayment. An overpayment situation                    problems in coping with school work can find
occurs when an OSAP application is                       alternative approaches to deal with an intense
reassessed, and the government determines                work load to avoid an overpayment situation.
that a student is eligible for less funding than         Rather than opting to drop out of a course all
originally allocated. This may happen                    together, students with disabilities can
because a student‟s financial situation                  alternatively request accommodations in an
changes, such as employment or other                     effort to cope with the workload and school
sources of income, or a change in course                 pressures. The Bursary for Students with
load. If a course is dropped, the OSAP                   Disabilities, as well as other bursaries and
decrease will generally be equal to the cost of          scholarships, provide funding to cover the
tuition and books for the course. It is                  costs of tutors, note takers, special
important that students report any changes to            technological equipment, counselling, and
their income information as submitted, and               other services. Moreover, a student with a
any changes in course load, to the school‟s              disability can also be given accommodations
financial aid office because not doing so may            in the form of extensions on assignment
affect eligibility for future funding. A student         deadlines, extra time on exams, separate
may be required to repay all or part of a grant          examination rooms, and the like. One option
or bursary if this occurs. If a          loan is         for students is to petition for a deferral rather
reassessed before a student receives the                 than dropping out of a course. Academic
second portion of a loan, the amount owed                petitions are generally dealt with by a school‟s
will be deducted from the second portion; if it          Office of the Registrar, and petition forms
occurs after all funding has been received,              should be available at the Registrar‟s office. If
students should receive a notice explaining              a student has already dropped out of a
the reason for the reassessment and what                 course, a financial petition – to not be
must be done to repay the loan.                          financially penalized for dropping the course –
                                                         may be possible through the school‟s
Once an overpayment occurs the student is                financial services office.
expected to remit the amount back to OSAP.
Additional loans are normally denied until this
is fulfilled, or subsequent loans will have the          Repayment of Loans
amount deducted. If an outstanding balance
is not paid, the student may be ineligible for           Normally, borrowers must begin repaying
other bursaries, programs and loans and the              principal and interest on OSAP loans six
file may even end up at a collection agency              months after the completion or termination of
where credit history and ratings will negatively         their studies. However, students may have
impact the student‟s financial profile. This             access to interest relief and debt reduction in
may have an additional effect of producing               repayment programs, and students with
financial and investment barriers for the                permanent disabilities may qualify for federal
student in the future.                                   or provincial loan forgiveness programs.

Colleges and universities are obligated to               A good summary on loan repayment is
accommodate students with disabilities to the            available on the University of Toronto website
point of undue hardship pursuant to the                  at

                                                    10
ARCH Alert                          www.archdisabilitylaw.ca                          9 November 2007
http://www.adm.utoronto.ca/fa/counselling/loa            before you apply, or by requesting the
n_repayment.htm#interestates.         Repaying           capitalization of up to three months of unpaid
government loans is very difficult for some              interest (converting it to principal). To apply
students in part because of the high interest            for the program, an Interest Relief application
rate, particularly on federal loans or the               form must be completed and attached with
federal portion of integrated loans. If a                supporting documentation. More information
student chooses a floating interest rate for             is available on the OSAP website.
federal loans, then the rate is prime plus
2.5%. If a student chooses a fixed interest              Debt Reduction in Repayment
rate, then the rate is prime plus 5%. It was
noted by a Member of Parliament, Peter Van               Individuals with a Canada Student Loan may
Loan, in the House of Commons in April 2005              also be eligible for the Federal Debt
that even “bad risk lenders” are able to                 Reduction in Repayment (DRR) program. The
receive interest rates of prime plus 1 to 2%,            DRR is a tool intended to help in the
and stated that there is clearly “no interest in         management of loan repayments for
being serious about support for post-                    individuals experiencing long-term financial
secondary education”. Students should speak              difficulties. Essentially the program lowers the
to a financial advisor to determine the best             principal amount of the loan and reduces
way to approach loan repayment.                          monthly payments to a level that is affordable
                                                         based on family income. Although there are
Interest Relief                                          no limits to the number of times one can apply
                                                         for DRR, a maximum of three reductions on a
An individual who has completed his or her               Canada Student Loan principal are offered
studies and is having financial difficulty               during the recipient‟s lifetime, for a total of up
repaying their student loans may be eligible             to $26,000 depending on individual financial
for interest relief for periods of 6 months up to        circumstances.       Eligibility   criteria   and
a maximum of 30 months under sections 35                 information are available on the OSAP
and 36 of Ontario Regulation 168/04, and                 website.
may at that time apply for extended relief
under section 39. A student with a disability            Revision of Terms
may then also be eligible for a further 24
months of Extended Interest Relief. The                  Revision of Terms is a feature available to
Interest Relief program is designed for                  most borrowers and flexible enough to meet
individuals experiencing temporary financial             individual financial needs. Used as a debt
constraints due to unemployment or low                   measurement tool, loan contract terms can be
income. During the period of Interest Relief,            revised to decrease monthly payments,
no payments on interest or principal are                 making the fulfillment of repayment provisions
required and the federal and/or provincial               possible. Conversely, the tool can be used to
governments pay the interest on the loans.               increase loan payments in order to advance
Voluntary payments can still be made, and go             the payment of the loan(s) in full. Terms may
directly toward reducing the outstanding                 be revised temporarily or permanently
principal. If regularly scheduled loan                   depending on individual circumstances.
payments have been missed any outstanding                Although there is no formal application
interest payments must be dealt with before              process, the NSLSC or financial institution
being eligible for the Interest Relief program.          holding your loans can be contacted for more
This can be done in three ways: paying the               information and to discuss the most suitable
outstanding interest, qualifying to have your            options for each situation.
Interest Relief period begin up to 6 months

                                                    11
ARCH Alert                          www.archdisabilitylaw.ca                        9 November 2007
The Permanent Disability Benefit (PDB)
                                                         Individuals who received a loan while
Recipients of a Canada Student Loan with a               attending a private university or college
permanent disability, who are experiencing               should contact:
particular financial hardship in repaying the
loan, may qualify for the Permanent Disability           NSLSC
Benefit (PDB) which would cancel the Federal             Private Institutions Division
portion of the borrower‟s student loans. To              P.O. Box 779 Station U
qualify for the PDB, an individual must be               Toronto, Ontario M8Z 5P9
deemed to be a person with a disability                  Toll-Free: 1 866 587-7452
pursuant to the Canada Student Financial
Assistance Regulations and meet the                      Ontario Medical Loan Forgiveness
requirements as set out by Human Resources
and Social Development Canada.                           To have an Ontario Student loan forgiven, an
                                                         individual may apply to the Ministry of
Furthermore, depending on the type of loan,              Training,     Colleges    and     Universities
other specific criteria must be met. For loans           (“Ministry”). For medical loan forgiveness in
negotiated before August 1st, 1995 the                   Ontario, a permanent disability can have
permanent disability can have occurred at                occurred at any time. To qualify, the Ministry
any time, payments must be up-to-date and                must be satisfied that the individual has a
loans cannot be in default status at a                   permanent disability that will “substantially
collection agency. For loans negotiated                  reduce [his or her] earning capacity for the
between August 1st, 1995 and July 31st, 2000             individual‟s expected lifetime”, based on
for full-time students, the permanent disability         documents from a “physician or other health
must have occurred before the first day of the           professional”.
seventh month from the end of the last
confirmed period of study. For loans                     An individual must also have entered into a
negotiated between August 1st, 1995 and July             consolidated loan agreement, and must live in
31st, 2000 for part-time students the                    Canada. Within six months of leaving school,
permanent disability must have occurred                  individuals must contact the National Student
before the day on which a loan agreement                 Loans Service Centre (NSLSC) to arrange a
was entered into with a lender (financial                consolidation agreement. The NSLSC can be
institution/service provider). Finally, for loans        reached at the number provided above.
negotiated on or after August 1st, 2000, the             Individuals with loans from prior to August 1,
permanent disability can have occurred at                2000 should also contact the bank that issued
any time (prior to, during, or following post-           them in order to consolidate student loans.
secondary studies).                                      As well, an individual must have used all of
                                                         the interest relief available under section 36,
Contact the National Student Loans Service               for thirty cumulative months, and must not
Centre (NSLSC) to request an application                 qualify for extended relief under section 39,
package if you believe you qualify:                      which means that individuals are not eligible
                                                         to apply for Medical Loan Forgiveness until
NSLSC                                                    they have been out of postsecondary studies
Public Institutions Division                             for a minimum of five years. However, the
P.O. Box 4030                                            Minister has the discretion to waive the
Mississauga, Ontario L5A 4M4                             Interest Relief requirement depending on the
Toll-Free: 1 888-815-4514                                “particular facts” and “special circumstances”
Toll-free TTY/TDD: 1 888 815-4556                        of the student. For example, this discretion

                                                    12
ARCH Alert                        www.archdisabilitylaw.ca                          9 November 2007
may be exercised where an individual is                evaluate individual circumstances using the
terminally ill.                                        Ministry‟s criteria. This temporary waiver will
                                                       be granted in cases of exceptional
Finally, the Minister must be satisfied that an        circumstances or hardship beyond the
individual will be unable to repay the loan            student's control. For example, a student
without “exceptional hardship”, which is based         who withdraws for medical reasons and
on the student‟s assets and liabilities, gross         requires a waiver of the overpayment amount
income from all sources, gross income of his           in order to complete her graduating year. It is
or her spouse, and obligations to any                  advised that you consult on what
dependent children of the student or of the            documentation is required to establish
student‟s spouse.                                      hardship in your situation at a Hardship
                                                       Review.
If an individual has previously been granted
medical loan forgiveness, then even if all of          The OSAP Appeal Board and Overpayments
the above conditions are met, he or she will
not be eligible to receive this benefit again,         If a student is not satisfied with the result of a
except     in   special   circumstances    as          review by the Financial Aid Office, the student
determined by the Minister‟s discretion.               can go to the OSAP Appeal Board. Though
                                                       there is no higher level of appeal available,
If an individual has received medical loan             students may present the same issue to the
forgiveness and wants to return to school, he          board more than once; a student may be
or she may apply for another loan and does             more successful if he or she is well prepared.
not have to repay the loan that was forgiven.          If the result of the appeal board is not
This is only true for individuals who received         favourable, the student can consult with a
medical loan forgiveness after July 10, 2004.          lawyer on whether a judicial review of the
                                                       decision is available.
To request a Medical Loan Forgiveness
application package, an individual may write           The OSAP Appeal Board has twelve
to the following address:                              members, four from each of the following
                                                       three groups:        student representatives,
Student Support Branch                                 Financial Aid Officers, and members of the
Ministry of Training, Colleges and                     public.    Each panel hearing an appeal
Universities                                           consists of a three members, one from each
P.O. Box 4500                                          group. The appeal board considers factors
189 Red River Rd., 4th Flr                             including: the student's circumstances and
Thunder Bay, ON P7B 6G9                                whether they have the ability to pay.
                                                       However, students' anecdotal experiences
The Appeal Process                                     indicate that successful reviews often result
                                                       only in very minor changes. The OSAP
Hardship Reviews                                       website confirms that an appeal may result in
The financial aid offices do not have                  a student being eligible for more funding, less
discretion in the allocation of OSAP amounts,          funding, no change in funding, or no funding.
but there is a review process called the
"Hardship Review" that allows students to              Other Reviewable decisions
have their overpayment decision reassessed.
To access the review process, a student                OSAP reviews may also be possible in the
should go to the financial aid office at his or        case of "exceptional parental expenses" and
her school where a financial aid officer will          “study period educational expenses”, such as

                                                  13
ARCH Alert                        www.archdisabilitylaw.ca                        9 November 2007
child care costs for dependant children with           and scholarship information is out of date,
disabilities who are 12 years of age and over,         however, and it should not be relied upon.
and in the case of asset contributions, such
as the modification of a vehicle because of a          2. Call the National Student Loans Service
disability.                                               Centre

Reviews are not possible for students who              Students who cannot find answers to their
are already at the maximum OSAP allocation,            questions online should try contacting the
or for students who submit reviews after the           NSLSC. They can be reached toll-free at 1-
deadline for submission, which is eight weeks          888-815-4514. The NSLSC has live operators
before the end of the student's study period.          Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm who will
It is important for students to go to the              answer questions about how to apply for new
Financial Aid Office promptly if they feel the         loans, what to do once new loan documents
OSAP they are receiving is not enough, and             are received, what to do when returning or
that other, unique factors should be                   planning to return to school, and how to
considered in determining their amount of              handle repayment. Students can also call the
funding.                                               NSLSC and ask to speak with the Permanent
                                                       Disabilities Department.
Credit Check Appeals
                                                       3. Contact your school‟s financial advisor
OSAP reviews are available except where an
application was denied because of a                    In the United States, students who accept
student‟s credit history. If a student does not        federal student loans must complete a form of
receive OSAP because he or she failed the              entrance and exit loan counselling. In
credit check, it may be possible to appeal the         Canada, there is no such requirement.
credit check.     This is a different appeal           However, financial aid offices have financial
process, and more information on it is                 advisors available. Students concerned about
available on a pamphlet available on the               paying for post-secondary education should
OSAP website.        This appeal should be             meet with one of these advisors as early as
submitted to the student‟s Financial Aid               possible. The financial aid office should also
Administrator at the Financial Aid Office.             be contacted with regards to OSAP
                                                       assessment questions.
Tips
                                                       4. Contact your school‟s centre for students
1. Use online resources                                   with disabilities

The OSAP website http://osap.gov.on.ca                 Most accredited universities and colleges
should be the first resource that students go          have designated offices dealing with issues
to for information, including up to date               relating to students with a disability. These
information about the status of their loan             offices specify in disability related services
application. There is also a section on                and can offer guidance and assistance
assistance for students with disabilities.             throughout a student‟s post-secondary
                                                       education. Some may deal with the
The    CanLearn       website   includes    an         applications for special bursaries, set up
Accessibility Guide with some helpful contact          counselling appointments, offer workshops
information, including links to organizations          and arrange accommodations. Below is a list
that provide scholarships and bursaries for            of disability centres of some of Ontario‟s
students with disabilities. Some of the contact        largest universities and colleges:

                                                  14
ARCH Alert                          www.archdisabilitylaw.ca                        9 November 2007
                                                        Lakehead University:
York University: http://www.yorku.ca/cdc/               http://learningassistance.lakeheadu.ca/

University of Toronto:                                  Ontario College of Art & Design:
http://www.studentlife.utoronto.ca/accessibility        http://www.ocad.ca/current_students/disability
.htm                                                    _services.htm

McMaster University:                                    University of Ontario Institute of
http://csd.mcmaster.ca/                                 Technology: http://www.dc-uoit.ca/disabilities

Brock University:                                       George Brown College:
http://www.brocku.ca/sdc/disABILITIES/                  http://www.georgebrown.ca/saffairs/disabilitie
                                                        s/disabilities.aspx
Carleton University:
http://www.carleton.ca/pmc/                             Seneca College:
                                                        http://www.senecac.on.ca/cms/student/disabili
University of Western Ontario:                          tyservices.jsp
http://www.sdc.uwo.ca/ssd/
                                                        Centennial College:
University of Guelph:                                   http://www.centennialcollege.ca/future/csd.jsp
http://www.slcs.uoguelph.ca/csd/
                                                        Humber College:
University of Windsor:                                  http://studentservices.humber.ca/ssd/
http://www.uwindsor.ca/sn
                                                        5. Keep track of documents and deadlines
University of Waterloo:
http://www.studentservices.uwaterloo.ca/disa            The Ministry can revoke almost any funding,
bilities/                                               loan forgiveness option, or benefit a student
                                                        is entitled to if a student provides inaccurate
University of Ottawa:                                   or incomplete information. This seems to be
http://www.sass.uottawa.ca/access/                      the case regardless of whether the error or
                                                        omission was intentional. This means there is
Ryerson University:                                     a significant burden on the student to
http://www.ryerson.ca/studentservices/access            carefully keep track of all deadlines,
centre/                                                 documents, and financial information.

Queen’s University:                                     Conclusion
http://library.queensu.ca/websrs/
                                                        This article is intended as a general overview
Nipissing University:                                   to both government and independent
http://www.nipissingu.ca/disabilityservices/            resources available to students with
                                                        disabilities. Although we do not suggest that
Laurentian University:                                  this is a full and comprehensive list of what is
http://oldwebsite.laurentian.ca/specneeds/en/           available, we hope it serves as a starting
                                                        guide to those pursuing post-secondary
Wilfrid Laurier University:                             education.
http://www.mylaurier.ca/accessible/home.htm
                                                        
                                                   15
ARCH Alert                          www.archdisabilitylaw.ca                         9 November 2007

Report Released on Flaws of                                 circumstances produce problems for
Student Loan Program                                        students who must pay various loans at
By Emma Michaels, Law Student                               the same time, sometimes consuming a
                                                            substantial portion of their salary.
The Integrated student loans program has
been beneficial in providing access to                   5) Problem in obtaining accurate statements
financial resources to many students across                 of account in a timely manner – borrowers
the province. It is nevertheless, not without its           currently    experience     difficulties in
flaws. A recent report based on solutions and               obtaining up to date information on
operational effectiveness of the system was                 balance, interest and principal.
released by the Coalition for Student Loan
Fairness outlining some of the major                     6) Recovery methods of collection agencies
drawbacks to accessing financial resources                  and the government’s current tax seizure
for students in need. The report outlines 8                 policy for overdue or defaulted accounts –
major obstacles to accessing financial                      current methods of dealing with overdue
resources through the Canada Student Loans                  or defaulted accounts subject borrowers to
Program:                                                    abuse and harassment in spite of
                                                            penalties, while tax-seized funds from the
1) High student loan interest rates – federal               government are applied to interest rather
   student loan borrowers are currently                     than the principal balance of money owed.
   subject to interest rates that are more than
   double the government‟s actual cost of                7) Inadequate hardship relief programs –
   borrowing.                                               current programs are laden with obstacles
                                                            to qualification and information is difficult
2) Inadequacy and ineffectiveness of the                    to access.
   Interest Relief program – Currently the
   interest relief program is based on a                 8) Interest on student loans during the six-
   borrower‟s gross income and is not                       month grace period following a borrower’s
   adjusted annually for inflation. Moreover,               studies – currently the federal government
   the program does not factor in the regional              has eliminated the interest-free six-month
   differences in cost-of-living for different              grace period on all federal student loans.
   areas of the province and accessibility is
   restricted as the entire application process          The report further details the disadvantages
   is not fully available online.                        and possible solutions to the identified issues.
                                                         To view the full report, visit the coalition‟s
3) Absence of an effective escalated dispute             website at http://www.studentloanfairness.ca/.
   mechanism for student loan borrower
   complaints – currently there is no                    
   legislation outlining resolution timeframes           Online Database of Free or
   for issues nor is there an Ombudsperson
                                                         Inexpensive Adaptive Technology
   Office where concerns can be addressed
   by an impartial party.
                                                         Adaptive computer software and hardware is
                                                         often expensive, but there is a remarkable
4) Multiple loans and multiple payments
                                                         selection of free and inexpensive options
   across the country – there is a lack of
                                                         available to computer users with
   unison and coordination among the
                                                         disabilities. This isn‟t well known, however, so
   different provinces and the various student
                                                         the Adaptech Research Network expanded
   loan      programs     nationwide.     The
                                                         its online database of free and inexpensive
                                                    16
ARCH Alert                        www.archdisabilitylaw.ca                        9 November 2007
adaptive technology as part of its work in the         The Dis-IT Research Alliance was supported
Dis-IT Research Alliance.                              by grants from the Initiative on the New
                                                       Economy program of the Social Sciences and
The database now covers over 125 products              Humanities Research Council of Canada.
in eight categories including writing tools,           "For more information about the Dis-IT
screen magnifiers, screen readers, dictation           Research Alliance, see http://www.dis-it.ca/ .
software, and optical character recognition
software.                                              


 ARCH ALERT is published by ARCH Disability Law Centre. It is distributed free via e-mail, fax,
 or mail to ARCH member groups, community legal clinics, and others with an interest in
 disability issues. ARCH is a non-profit community legal clinic, which defends and promotes the
 equality rights of persons with disabilities through litigation, law/policy reform and legal
 education. ARCH is governed by a Board of Directors elected by representatives of member
 groups reflecting the disability community. The goal of ARCH ALERT is to provide concise
 information, so that people are aware of important developments and resources. Articles may be
 copied or reprinted to share with others provided that they are reproduced in their entirety and
 that the appropriate credit is given. We encourage those who receive it to assist with distribution
 of information in this way. We do ask that both Word and Text Formats are distributed to ensure
 accessibility. Charitable Reg. #118777994RR01.

 Editor: Laurie Letheren            Production & Circulation: Theresa Sciberras

 We welcome your comments and questions, as well as submissions. We will endeavour to
 include all information of general interest to the community of persons with disabilities and their
 organizations, but reserve the right to edit or reject material if necessary. We will advise you if
 your submission is to be edited or rejected. Please assist us in your submissions by being brief
 and factual. Please address communications regarding ARCH ALERT to: Theresa Sciberras,
 Program Assistant, ARCH Disability Law Centre, 425 Bloor St. E., Suite 110, Toronto, Ontario,
 M4W 3R5, fax: 416-482-2981, TTY: 416-482-1254, e-mail: scibert@lao.on.ca                  Website:
 http://www.archdisabilitylaw.ca/




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