Parents to protest Ontario autism program changes | Power & Politics
Parents to protest Ontario autism program changes | Power & Politics The Ontario government is expected to face more heat this week over its plan changes to autism funding. Last week, Social Services Minister Lisa McLeod, announced the province plans to eliminate the autism therapy wait list of 23,000 children within the next month. Instead, the government will give money directly to families with autistic children, but that money is capped at $ 20,000 a year per child until the age of 6, and then the cat Falls to $ 5,000 a year. Many parents say that’s not nearly enough to pay for the pigment their children need. So what does this mean for Effective families? Rosanna Ramirez is a parent of two children with autism. She joins me now from Toronto. I Miss Ramirez thanks so much for being with us. Really appreciate it, thank you about you. So what was your initial reaction to the changes that the government in Ontario announced last week? Well, when I heard the announcement was coming, I wasn’t nervous. We have been very lucky to be in the current AP program. It’S been very good for us so far. I know the majority of families were still waiting to receive service, but we were we’ve been doing well with that program and I knew that a change coming play wasn’t going to be a good thing overall. So when I, when I did listen to the announcement that day, I quickly took in the numbers, and that’s all that matter to me when I heard that number of 140000 the younger children quickly doing the math, it’s really a very, very poor model. It doesn’t give parents much therapy at all. What does it mean specifically for for your family, for example? How will it change level of treatment that your kids are able to access? Do you think so? Am I boy is 3 years old, he’s he’s almost four and he’s been receiving 30 hours a week of therapy, it’s going very well under the new model. The amount of funding that will be provided will give us about enough money for two hours a week of therapy rather than 30. So that’s a huge difference, your family, on your kids emotionally, but we were really not prepared for this at all. So we were counting on what happened to couple of years ago, which was the announcement that it’s basically a lifesaver for all these families, for the promise that until our children reach to 18 years of age, that they would be entitled to receive all the IBI therapy. That they needed – and that was a very great great announcement. You know there was a lot of relief for a lot of families and we were probably one of the first called off the waitlist, and we were expecting that our child would get into therapy and stay into therapy is law if you needed and got that help That he needed so that was definitely a sense of relief with so many other things that we still had to work on at the same time. So it was far from you know, was far from a complete solution, but at least focus on all of his other needs and and therapy we knew would be taken care of. So with this change, it really leaves us in the dark. We haven’t had time to digest it properly, yet we know that we have less than two months left at the current therapies that he’s getting, and then we either have to come up with about $ 70,000 extra a year or we need to decrease. Is ours. You talk about getting off the waitlist, I guess the problem that government says that they’re trying to address – and that’s so many kids, thousands of them in fact we’re still on that weightless. I take your point about the the previous announcement, but you know I guess what what sort of message. top of the government or what alternatives do they have if they want to clear that waitlist well, unfortunately, therapy has very expensive, very expensive for the families. It’S very expensive for the government. We understand that, but the investment that these kids need into their life and to their future, with the hopes that, with the right therapy, starting very young, that as adults, they will be contributors to society and that they won’t be requiring. As much support for the rest of their lives, so if we, if we invest money into these kids, now getting them the help they need, I think in the long run, that’s the only way to number one help them and number two be sure that this is Not going to cost the government a lot more money, has these kids become adults and without the help they need. That’S exactly what’s going to happen. We’Ve heard from a number of parents and female student last week who share a lot of your concerns. Do you have any optimism, do you have a message or or a strategy is there? Is there any kind of strategy in place to try and convince the government that they need to make further changes? Well, I think it’s all about pay now or pay later. I think that’s really the only way to look at it. You know we have a bunch of kids that are either going to get get the help they need now and without that help it’s it’s going to cost money. It’S going to cost a lot more money. They’Re going to need to be supported for the rest of their lives, so we need to help them now. Okay, I’ll, leave it there thanks a lot. Mister really appreciate your time. Thank you. Parents are planning demonstrations across Ontario to protest the provincial government’s announced changes to the funding plan for autism services.
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