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MacLeod should resign for pressuring group to support autism announcement: OPSEU

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas

Toronto – Children, Community and Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod should resign immediately for trying to pressure a group to publicly support the Ford government’s changes to autism services, OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said Thursday.

“I can’t tell you how disappointed I am in Lisa MacLeod,” Thomas said.  “It’s bad enough she’s become the Minister of Mean, but it’s unbelievable she would bully others to pay lip service to Doug Ford’s attack on children with autism.”

Thomas is appalled by reports that MacLeod and her staff demanded the Ontario Association for Behaviour Analysis provide a quote endorsing the Ford cutbacks to autism services.

The association says it was told if it didn’t knuckle under it would face “four long years.”

Thomas says the Ford government has descended to new depths by turning the screws on frontline experts to provide platitudes.

“I thought I’d seen everything, but a government that resorts to extortion to get support for its heartless policy decisions? That’s a new low,” Thomas said.

Thomas is also calling for a public inquiry to clear the air on MacLeod’s ordering to pressure the behavior analysts to toe the Ford line.

Thomas noted that Ford complained about kids with autism long before he became premier.  Published reports indicate that when Ford was on Toronto council in 2014, he said that a group home for youth with autism had “ruined” a neighbourhood in his ward.

“Did Ford’s ‘not in my neighbourhood’ attitude toward kids with autism influence his government’s mean-spirited program cuts? “Did he order his minister to scare groups into supporting his cruel program cuts?  The Premier’s office has some explaining to do,” Thomas said.

OPSEU’s frontline members directly provide support for kids with autism, helping them lead productive lives. OPSEU First Vice-President Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida says the Ford cutbacks make it far more difficult to provide the help children need.

“If Ford doesn’t stop being a bully and keeps ignoring frontline workers, OPSEU is going to make it a long four years for him and his MPPs,” Almeida said.

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931