Wynne revives Kiwala’s fetal alcohol disorder bill

KINGSTON — A piece of legislation championed by former Kingston and the Islands MPP Sophie Kiwala is to get a second chance at Queen’s Park.

Next month, former premier Kathleen Wynne is to table a private member’s bill that calls for amendments to the Early Childhood Educators Act and the Ontario College of Teachers Act to increase awareness about fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) among educators and to require school boards to provide training to teachers about FASD, its signs and symptoms, and how best to support children and families.

“My hope is that the government will see the importance of this and adopt some of these strategies that we are putting forward,” Wynne said after introducing the bill to a gathering of educators and parents of children with FASD at Queen’s University on Tuesday morning.

“I felt it was important now to introduce the bill and to begin the conversation. There is a real lack of awareness about what alcohol consumption in a pregnant woman can do to that unborn child.

“This is a huge problem.”

During Kiwala’s term as MPP, she put forward a private member’s bill that would have amended the Education Act to permit school boards to increase their FASD awareness and support.

That bill died when the Liberal government lost the June 2018 provincial election.

Wynne said the research showed up to three per cent of children ages seven to nine in Toronto meet the criteria to be diagnosed with FASD, which she said would make it more prevalent than autism and Down syndrome.

“And yet it is hidden, it is hidden from view,” Wynne said. “We don’t really know what all the markers are as a general population.”

Kiwala said she is “over the moon” that her private member’s bill has been resurrected, adding that it would help children and their families. (Read more…)