Sam Hammond at the January 17, 2017 press conference
On January 17 2017, ETFO released a call to action (PDF | Word) to address the critical lack of support for students facing serious behavioural issues that can lead to violent incidents in classrooms. Among its recommendations ETFO called on the government to adequately fund special education programs, set up inter-ministerial supports to build capacity for children’s mental health services and support school board compliance, reporting of incidents and training related to health and safety legislation and policies.
At a media conference that received province-wide coverage, ETFO President Sam Hammond said “The issue is that children with high risk behaviours aren’t getting the mental health referrals and support they need. Other children with special needs are not receiving sufficient support and resources, leading to delays in assessment to inform their programming, and often delay or absence in receiving the supports and resources they need to be successful.” Following the media conference, ETFO met with the Ministers of Education and Labour to press for change.
Late last fall, ETFO provincial Executive passed a motion endorsing an 18-point strategy for working with locals, members and key stakeholders to reduce violent incidents in schools. Staff are working on a roll-out of the strategy for 2017-2018.