On April 5, hundreds of concerned and frustrated parents of children with autism descended on Queen’s Park. They came to show their anger over the Ontario Liberals’ scheme to reform applied behaviour analysis (ABA) and intensive behavioural intervention (IBI) services for children with autism.
The plan, unveiled March 29 by Children and Youth Services Minister Tracy MacCharles, would deprive children aged five and over of IBI services and effectively remove them from the waitlist – a list some of them have languished on for years.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, spoke at the rally.
“For the past 10 years, the Liberals have been trying to balance their books on the backs of this province’s most vulnerable,” he told parents and supporters. “My union is behind you every step of the way. We will work with you to challenge the Liberal’s irresponsible decision – one that will make the future a lot less bright for children with autism.”
Warren (Smokey) Thomas assures children, parents and supporters that OPSEU backs IBI treatment at any age.
Both NDP and PC leaders spoke at the event. They told heart-wrenching stories of parents who will now never hear the words, “Mom, Dad, I love you.”
During Question Period, the Progressive Conservatives devoted every question to the Liberal plan to deny IBI therapy to five-year-olds.
After a passionate defence of the rights of children with autism, NDP children and youth critic Monique Taylor was ejected from the legislature for her refusal to sit down and be silent.
For their part, parents were indignant to hear the Liberals try to pass off their cuts to autism therapy as improvements. They pointed out the government will provide a one-time grant of $8,000 to pay for private services in lieu of ongoing, publicly funded IBI and ABA treatment.
Some parents will now be forced to quit the province and leave behind family and friends, community and career – or find $11,000 a month needed to give their children the same chance in life as other kids.