The SCC affirmed the rights of disabled students following the successful intervention of LEAF affiliate, West Coast LEAF. LEAF congratulates West Coast LEAF and joins them in applauding the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Moore v. Ministry of Education.
In this case, a child suffering from severe dyslexia, Jeffery Moore, was denied the educational support he required in order to learn to read in public schools when the North Vancouver School District cancelled his special needs program. He was forced to transfer to a private school in order to access the services he required. Earlier this month, the SCC found that Mr. Moore was discriminated against by the closure of the specialized program.
In this case the School District argued that it could not accommodate the needs of Severely Learning Disabled (SLD) students because it was too costly in the context of their financial constraints. West Coast LEAF intervened to argue that cost should rarely be used to justify discriminatory conduct, and the burden on human rights complainants to prove discrimination must not be set unnecessarily high.
The Court found that the discrimination was not justified, despite the District’s difficult financial circumstances, because the district failed to consider the impact the closure of the program would have on SLD students, and failed to explore other options for saving money. The Court held that , even where financial constraints exist, governments must prioritize human rights and equality.
“This case has important implications for children with disabilities, as well as broader implications for others experiencing discrimination,’ says Kasari Govender, Executive Director and co-counsel for WEst Coast LEAF. “The Court affirmed that cost cannot trump human rights except as a last resort.”
Find out more about West Coast LEAF at www.westcoastleaf.org