Last week, our Progressive Conservative government continued their attack on our public services by making sweeping changes to autism funding and policy. Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Community and Social Services, joined her parliamentary assistant and Kitchener-South Hespeler MPP Amy Fee to announce that they were making changes which would eliminate the 23,000-child long waitlist within 18-months.
However, with the change came the most controversial decisions - “giving funding directly to families instead of to regional agencies, with up to $140,000 (regardless of their needs and depending on what age they enter the program) to spend on their choice treatment for children from the age of two until their 18th birthday.”
Treatment can cost families upwards of $80,000 so those with the highest needs will run out of money very quickly. As a result of the changes, MPP Fee’s chief of staff Bruce McIntosh resigned his position immediately saying ”I just think it’s wrong. It’s harmful.” As well, this announcement leaves local programs in chaos as they determine the next steps. Kidsability will lose 20% of its base funding.
ETFO has long been a supporter of the Ontario Autism Coalition’s call for more better funding for people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. We know these students - they are in our classrooms and each of our WRDSB schools has a story to share. We know the positive impact these interventions can have on our students.
What can you do?
- As a staff, support the Kidsability campaign and wear blue on Mondays to raise awareness for autism and fight back against these changes.
- Call MPP Amy Fee (519-650-9413) or Minister Lisa MacLeod (416-325-5225)
- Write a letter to our local newspapers sharing your concerns.
- Watch Twitter and Facebook for other online actions you can take to share your concerns.
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- Primer: Applied Behaviour Analysis, the therapy at the heart of Ontario's autism controversy
- Ontario overhauls autism program to attempt to eliminate the wait list
- Parents rally to protest provincial reforms to autism supports
- 'We worry how we will go on': Local family devastated by changes