'Scars deeper than you realize': Human rights commission highlights dire need for reading supports in Sask.
A new report from the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission sheds light on systemic gaps in the province's approach to literacy and helping students living with reading disabilities.
The commission launched its review after receiving a group complaint on behalf of 29 families, all of which included children diagnosed with dyslexia.
“The families alleged that eight school divisions discriminated against their children on the basis of disability (dyslexia and other disabilities) and that the school divisions violated their children’s right to fair and equitable access to education,” the report says.
Dyslexia is a neurobiological condition characterized by difficulties with accurate and fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities.
According to the Yale Centre for Dyslexia and Creativity, it’s estimated that 20 per cent of the population is affected by dyslexia – with the disorder representing 80 to 90 per cent of those with learning disabilities.
The commission consulted with students, families, educators, health-care professionals, advocates and community organizations as part of its report.
“Reading is a fundamental skill … Education systems are responsible for ensuring that every student learns to read,” said Barry Wilcox, interim chief commissioner of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.
“All students, including those with disabilities, have the right to equitable access to education.”
Falling behind their peers was just one of many challenges faced by students with reading disabilities according to the report.
“The emotional trauma from school even now, two years out of it I am still unravelling,” one student told the commission. “Constantly being stressed and in fight or flight mode for 12 years can leave scars deeper than you realize.”
And the stress didn’t just affect students but entire families – adding not only emotional harm but financial.
“The financial burden has been overwhelming for our family … It has cost us thousands in tutoring costs,” one parent said in the report. “Our son has to do hours of tutoring after school leaving him no time to socialize or have any enjoyable extracurricular activities because we cannot afford the money or time after the cost of tutoring.”
This problem only worsened when considering Indigenous students.
According to the report, in the 2020-2021 academic year – only 37 per cent of Grade 3 Indigenous students in Regina Public Schools were reading at or above a Grade 3 level as opposed to the entirety of the Grade 3 population at 58 per cent.
This gap correlated with graduation rates as well – with 29 per cent of Indigenous people in Saskatchewan having no certificate, diploma or degree as opposed to 10 per cent of non-Indigenous people in the province.
Certain systemic themes became apparent through the commission’s consultation with stakeholders. They included:
- Negative impacts of reading disabilities on students and families, emotionally, socially and financially.
- Insufficient screening for reading disabilities.
- Complicated processes and systems for parents to navigate.
- Inadequate reading instruction and specialized intervention.
- Inconsistent accommodation.
- Long waits for professional assessment.
- Lack of teacher training and professional development regarding reading disabilities.
- Disproportionate reading outcomes for Indigenous students.
- Lack of supports and limited resources.
A key recommendation in the report was the focus on early detection.
“When it comes to reading disabilities the passage of time is one of the greatest enemies,” the report says. “The sooner remedial action can be taken the better the result. In this case, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
The report recommended a universal screening strategy – focusing on Kindergarten to Grade 3 students and using the process two to three times a year.
Also in its recommendations, the commission called for increased professional support for educators teaching reading as well as dealing with students with reading disabilities, enhanced date collection to track the effectiveness of new literacy programs and building on current reconciliation efforts to help bridge the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students’ success in the classroom.
The report also referenced the long-term positives of an increased focus on literacy – citing research from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) showing improving literacy can be used as a tool to combat crime.
At the time of the report, 2.6 million Canadians who suffer from chronic low-income employment or unemployment require literacy support to improve their quality of life.
“A change to our education systems may have major, long-term benefits not only to those directly affected by learning disabilities but for the quality of life of millions of Canadians,” it says.
The commission’s full report, “Equitable Education for Students with Reading Disabilities” can be found here.
In a statement to CTV News, the Ministry of Education said it is aware of the commission's report and will need more time to review and examine connections and initiatives already underway.
"Included within Saskatchewan’s school operating funding in 2023-24 is $304 million for supports for learning, which is $4.1 million more than 2022-23 budget funding," the statement read.
"This funding provides for classroom supports to ensure that all students have equal access to, and benefit from, the provincial education program in an inclusive education setting."
The Shopping Trends team is independent of the journalists at CTV News. We may earn a commission when you use our links to shop. Read about us.
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Rick Hansen's life changed the day he was told he'd never walk again, but instead of letting his disability stand in his way, he became an advocate for accessibility rights and a Paralympic Athlete. Here's how that happened.
Sandie Rinaldo: Rick Hansen marks the 50th anniversary of his life-changing accident by visiting the scene
Rick Hansen lost the use of his legs in a truck accident when he was just 15 years old, CTV National News anchor, Sandie Rinaldo interviewed him recently while visiting the place where his life changed irrevocably.
Two Chinese community centres in the Montreal area are planning to launch a $2.5 million defamation lawsuit against the RCMP and the Attorney General of Canada after being accused by the police force of hosting 'alleged Chinese police stations.'
Ibrahim Ali's lawyer says the 13-year-old girl he's accused of murdering in a British Columbia park wasn't the “innocent” depicted in a “rose-coloured” portrayal by the Crown at trial.
It has been five days since Palestinian-Canadian couple, Khalil and Nabila Manna, returned from visiting relatives in Gaza, but while the couple planned to visit for a short-period of time, the Israel-Hamas conflict left them stranded for 40 days
With Canada set to reimpose cap on working hours, international students worry about paying for tuition, living expenses
Canada is set to reimpose the cap on the number of hours that international students can work off campus. But with heightened cost-of-living concerns in Canada, many international students say they're not sure how they'll be able to afford their tuition and living expenses if they can't work full-time.
A federal inmate was charged Friday with attempted murder in the prison stabbing of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer convicted of murdering George Floyd.
The search for a kangaroo that escaped an Ontario zoo will resume on Saturday morning, according to staff and volunteers.
Winter will be unusually warm and rainy across much of the country this year, according to the latest data from Environment and Climate Change Canada.
Saskatoon property taxes are going up 6.04 per cent next year, after an unprecedented length of budget discussions.
A Saskatchewan First Nation is using wood from old grain elevators to build some of the first homes on its land.
Kids in Saskatoon are one step closer to riding city buses for free.
A suspect has been charged with four counts of second-degree murder in connection with the Langside homicide.
The Manitoba government is broadening its plan for a fuel tax holiday after receiving criticism from farm groups, snowmobilers and the Opposition Progressive Conservatives.
A new set of traffic lights are now operational on Highway 59 which runs through Brokenhead Ojibway Nation. The improvement comes months after a tragedy witnessed by several residents.
Calgary police say a man killed in a drive-by shooting in the Beltline on Thursday night appears to be from out of town.
Michigan officials approved a $500 million plan Friday to encase in a protective tunnel a portion of an aging oil pipeline that runs beneath a channel connecting two Great Lakes, leaving just one more regulatory hurdle for the contentious project.
CTV News received some good news from students at the career college of Academy of Learning.
An elected official for the Town of Devon should be kicked out of her council seat, the town's mayor said Friday, the day after she was sentenced to 120 days in jail.
A cyclist is dead after a crash in west Edmonton on Friday.
Jennifer Rice, the Edmonton city councillor for Ward Ipiihkoohkanipiaohtsi, is disputing reports that she bullied staff and created a toxic work environment, but is still refusing to take questions about what happened.
Here's what the Ontario Liberal Party leadership candidates promised over the last 8 months.
A man is dead and another is in hospital after a vehicle crashed into Lake Ontario early on Saturday morning.
A couple from Montreal who recently moved to Florida fear they may have to sell their newly purchased vehicle after Toyota refused to provide them a compliance letter, a policy by some manufacturing companies that has seen owners unable to import their cars into the United States.
It's a snowy start to the weekend in Ottawa with a few centimetres in the forecast for Saturday and more coming at the start of the work week.
Ottawa Fire Services says a man was rescued from the Rideau Canal Saturday morning.
Brockville police are looking for suspects after a home invasion and a report of gunshots Friday night.
Sole survivor of Sea to Sky Highway crash on how faith, community are helping her unimaginable grief
Iris Paguia-Portillo was in the front passenger seat, and her brother James and two-year-old daughter Natalia in the back seat on their late night drive home from a church gathering on Nov. 26. Just 20 minutes from their Whistler home, she heard her husband Josefat Portillo scream as their car hit black ice and struck a tree.
The City of Coquitlam has ordered the developer behind a construction project on Foster Avenue that suffered a catastrophic, caught-on-camera collapse Wednesday to hire a third-party geotechnical engineer as it works to remediate the site.
Frustration is growing over a major traffic bottleneck on Highway 1 through Langley.
Traffic on the Île-aux-Tourtes bridge will be reduced to one lane in each direction "for several weeks" as of Friday night, Quebec's transport ministry has confirmed. The eastbound portion of the bridge will be completely closed for about an hour starting at 11 p.m. Friday to redirect the lanes.
FAE's indefinite strike will continue. Union heads say they've submitted a counter-offer to Quebec as the widespread education walkout stretched into its seventh day.
'Last-minute' amendment to Quebec health bill would allow agency to revoke hospital's bilingual status
A new amendment to Quebec's mammoth health-care bill would allow the new Sante Quebec agency to revoke a health-care institution's bilingual status — a move English-rights activists say is shocking.
The province gave the IIO a $2 million budget lift for this fiscal year to fund 13 new positions, including seven in investigations.
To appreciate why Lynndon Franz wears a Santa hat in his workshop, we need to go back to that day he got a nail stuck in his eye.
Environment and Climate Change Canada has issued a special weather statement warning of extremely high tides on British Columbia's South Coast this weekend.
Three youths were arrested after an irritant was sprayed Friday morning at a school in the Halifax area.
A 25-year-old woman has been charged with murder in connection with a homicide in Cape Breton last week.
A low pressure system moving out of the northeastern United States and passing along the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia is likely to bring parts of the Maritimes the first heavy snowfall for December on Monday.
While he’s a big supporter of what the city has planned for downtown, the owner of Wacky Wings on Shaughnessy Street says he and his staff are “heartbroken” they are being forced out of their location.
DEVELOPING Heavy police presence in New Liskeard
Few details are available, but there is a heavy police presence Friday morning near Highway 11 and Bedard Drive in New Liskeard.
Provincial police are investigating the death of a resident at a long-term care facility in Orillia.
Alleged victims speak out after a Waterloo, Ont. man posed as a CSIS agent and scammed women out of millions
Several women have come forward claiming they were victims of a romance scam by a Waterloo, Ont. man. Police believe he allegedly defrauded dozens of women out of more than $2 million over 15 years.
Police in Six Nations of the Grand River say no one was hurt after a male barricaded himself inside a home and shot at police.
The transmission tower beside CTV Kitchener’s old station has been fully dismantled.