The Moore Case and Equality Rights in Education for Students with Disabilities

On March 22, 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada heard an important appeal about the equality rights in education for students with disabilities. The appeal involved Jeffrey Moore, a student with a learning disability who has fought for years to ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to education.  When Jeffrey was in elementary school, he was forced to go to private school after being denied the educational services he needed. He and his parents filed a human rights complaint against his school board and the province of British Columbia alleging discrimination on the basis of disability. In particular, his complaint alleged that failing to provide students with learning disabilities with the support they require amounts to discrimination. They asked that the school board and the provinces be ordered to provide equal educational services to students with disabilities. Though Jeffrey and his family were successful before the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal, the decision was overturned by the British Columbia Court of Appeal. Jeffrey and his family appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Council of Canadians with Disabilities sought to intervene in this case and was granted the permission to make written arguments to the Supreme Court. The CCD argued that education is a service that governments in Canada are required by law to make available to all students.  Students with learning disabilities require supports and accommodations to benefit equally from education just as the Deaf need sign language interpretation to communicate and access a variety of services. Several human rights commissions and disability rights advocacy groups also made written and oral submissions in support of Jeffrey and his case. The CCD was represented by Yvonne Peters, Gwen Brodsky and Melina Buckley. Members of the CCD were also present during the appeal to show their support for the Moore family and the important issues raised in the complaint. ~ Anne Levesque, Co-chair CCD Human Rights Committee