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Challenging statutory limitations on children's education rights: a re-examination of the Canadian Supreme Court Decision in Auton

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The 2004 Supreme Court of Canada decision in Auton concerns the right of autistic children to access services held by their parents to be essential to their children's ability to participate as members of a democratic society. It is argued that the child's right to have his or her basic developmental needs met is a constitutionally protected one. Having those developmental needs met engages both education and health rights. In Auton the parents had sought funding for the service at issue from the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Children and Families (which dealt with mental health services and other particular support programs for the families of disabled children) as well as from the Ministry of Education. The case raises central questions regarding the very nature of education and the constitutionality of a discretionary power of government to set out statutory limitations upon fundamental human rights including education rights.

Keywords: Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; autism; democracy; disability; education rights

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2005

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