In the spring of 2012 I was contacted by the mother who had a chilling reminder of why it’s important to question the motives and sensibilities of our public service unions. She and her autistic son were going through hell at the hands of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU). Local 330 president Silvanna Petersen was waging war a on autism at the Simcoe County School Board by demanding that educators have the right to use martial arts equipment to restrain uppity children:
“They’ll use them as a blocker to just block the aggressor. It is just to protect themselves for the moment until they defuse the situation.”
A couple months later the Simcoe County District School Board cowered to Petersen’s demands and voted 11-1 in favour. Things weren’t looking good for Simcoe County’s autistic kids until PC MPP Rod Jackson stepped-in with a solution- Bill 102, legislation banning the use of “blocker pads”. The bill received unanimous support when I attended the second reading in August 2012. Things were going great, then the legislature prorogued and the bill disappeared.
So, how are things going for Ontario’s autistic kids now? Well, the good news is that Silvanna Petersen has moved onto greener pastures (though it may be bad news for patients of Ontario nurses). Unfortunately, there are still stupid decisions being made, and kids are still paying the price.