ELMIRA – On Friday, Waterloo MPP Catherine Fife and Kitchener Centre MPP Laura Mae Lindo gathered with community members outside of the office of Conservative MPP Mike Harris Jr. to call on the Ford government to do better for children with autism and their families.
“It has been nearly a year since the announcement of the overhaul of the Ontario Autism Program, yet families continue to reach out to my office because they have nowhere else to turn, no funding and no communication from the Ford government,” said Lindo.
One such parent, Dana Pike, shared her frustration: “The Ontario Autism Program has made my ten-year-old son Austin wait seven years, and counting, for therapy that is vital to his development. The lack of action or mere communication from the Ontario government screams: we simply don't care.”
While Austin has been waiting for supports, his mom Dana has only received a single communication from both the Liberal and Conservative governments.
Fife said that parents are increasingly frustrated by the lack of clear communication from the Ford government. “Parents across the province are desperate for information about when their children will receive needs-based therapy, what will happen to children receiving service whose contracts are soon expiring*, and when the transition to the new Ontario Autism Program will take place.”
“Despite promises of improvements after the disastrous changes put forward by Minister Lisa Macleod, Minister Todd Smith is still putting families through hell. He’s still not prioritizing the needs of children with autism by providing immediate access to needs-based therapy. These kids and their families deserve so much better than more broken promises.”
*NOTE: Shortly after the rally on Friday, Minister Todd Smith announced that children whose contracts were soon expiring would have their contracts extended until the new Ontario Autism Program is established.