DAWN Ontario: DisAbled Women's Network Ontario

Autistic Children Abandoned by McGuinty Autism Policies
Martel rallies with children, parents, & advocates in Toronto

July 12, 2006



QUEEN'S PARK - Shelley Martel, MPP for Nickel Belt and the NDP Health and Long-Term Care Critic, is calling on Dalton McGuinty to immediately deliver on his two explicit election promises to Ontario's autistic children.

"The McGuinty Liberal government needs to honour their promises to autistic children and their parents during the 2003 election," said Martel. "In addition, significant funds need to be invested to ensure that all children who need IBI treatment receive it. That's clearly not happening because, as of March 31, 2006, 753 children were languishing on the wait list, waiting for IBI treatment to begin."

In a letter, dated September 17th, 2003, to Bradford, Ontario, 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."

"After the election, McGuinty continued the former Conservative policy of arbitrarily cutting off the widely-hailed IBI treatment to autistic children over six even though he promised not to," said Martel, who joined parents and advocates of autistic children this morning for a rally outside Queen's Park.

Martel is also concerned that allocated government funding won't even benefit children with autism. A summary of the autism budget and expenditures shows that in 2003-04, six months under the McGuinty government, $80 million was budgeted to be spent, but $2.6 million was diverted to other children's programs, $1.5 million was diverted to the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities, and $32 million was returned to the Consolidated Revenue Fund unspent. Then, in 2004-05, $89 million was proposed to be spent, but $21 million was spent on children's programs instead of autism.

Today's rally is the latest in a public awareness campaign being organized throughout Ontario by the Ontario Autism Coalition, a group of five parents of children with autism from across Ontario, who are concerned about the McGuinty Liberal government's autism policies.

"Premier McGuinty should never have dragged parents and their vulnerable autistic children through the courts, at great expense to taxpayers and the families, just so that he could break his promises. 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."


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