DAWN Ontario: DisAbled Women's Network Ontario

NDP to Dalton McGuinty: Keep Your Promises
to Autistic Children

July 7, 2006



QUEEN'S PARK - Shelley Martel, MPP for Nickel Belt and the NDP Health and Long-Term Care Critic, is dismayed by today's Court of Appeal decision but emphasized that, for New Democrats, this issue has always been a political issue about what Dalton McGuinty promised during the 2003 election and what he has continually failed to do.

"Dalton McGuinty made an explicit promise to the parents of autistic children. He promised IBI treatment for every single child who needs it - regardless of age," Martel said.

"Mr. McGuinty should never have dragged parents and their vulnerable autistic children through the courts, at great expense to taxpayers and the families, just so he could break a promise. I am calling on the premier to do the right thing for autistic children and extend IBI treatment to all children who need it -- without delay."

In a letter, dated September 17th, 2003, to Bradford, Ont., parent Nancy Morrison, McGuinty said:

"I … believe that the lack of government-funded IBI treatment for autistic children over six is unfair and discriminatory. The Ontario Liberals support extending autism treatment beyond the age of six. We are not at all confident that the Harris-Eves Conservatives care to devise any innovative solution for autistic children over six - especially those with best outcome possibilities that might potentially be helped within the school system with specially trained EAs. In government, my team and I will work with clinical directors, parents, teachers and school boards to devise a feasible way in which autistic children in our province can get the support and treatment they need. That includes children over the age of six."

"In its decision, the Court of Appeal has said that the Charter cannot require the state to provide whatever assistance is needed to ensure that autistic children meet their full potential and that this 'remains the terrain of legislators,'" stated Martel. "New Democrats will continue to pressure Dalton McGuinty to keep the election promises that he made to autistic children and their families during the last election."

Just last week, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal ruled that children with autism - whose provincially funded therapy is denied after age 6 - are now free to proceed with their argument that the McGuinty government is discriminating against them on the basis of age.


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