Parents and MPPs protest over changes to autism services
Published Saturday, February 16, 2019 4:22PM EST Last Updated Saturday, February 16, 2019 5:21PM EST
Changes in funding for autism services caused angry parents and opposition MPPs to protest in downtown London Saturday.
The new plan from the PC government diverts funding directly to parents, who are urging the Doug Ford government to rethink the formula.
The province announced it would provide families a maximum of $140,000 between ages two and 18 to clear a backlog of 23,000 children on a wait list for intensive therapy.
Critics of the plan say the therapy can cost as much as $80,000 a year. This plan provides a maximum of $20,000 per year for children five and under, and $5,000 a year for children older than five.
With all three local NDP MPPs in attendance as well as parents,vocalized frustration at the recent overhaul.
"My son is a level three, non verbal, not toilet trained. He's aggressive, he could get less funding, than a high functioning child who has a lower family income. You are setting them up for failure later in life," said parent Sarah Farrants.
That's something River Christie-White knows first-hand.
Diagnosed at age two, the now 17-year-old autistic teenager has had years of therapy to become a more confident public speaker.
"Hard to navigate social setting, one thing helped me has been social services. Funding cuts could created a loss in other children who don't have the serviecs yet, as it's out of the price range of the government promises.
London's three NDP MPPs, spoke with parents about their concerns.
They believe they can persuade the conservatives to reverse their decision.
"It's very realistic. I think we have a good chance of forcing the government to back down," said London-West MPP Peggy Sattler.
After getting started at Victoria Park, the rally moved to Richmond Street, where car after car honked in support.