DAWN Ontario: DisAbled Women's Network Ontario

Autism Announcement is A Drop in the Bucket
Martel skeptical about McGuinty's Promises to
Autistic Children

June 16, 2006




QUEEN'S PARK - Shelley Martel, MPP for Nickel Belt and the NDP Health and Long-Term Care Critic, says that today's announcement by the McGuinty Liberal government to provide Intensive Behavioural Intervention treatment to 120 additional children is a drop in the bucket compared to what is actually needed to address the long wait lists.

"Let's be clear - under the McGuinty Liberal government, the wait list for autistic children in Ontario who are eligible and waiting for IBI has grown by leaps and bounds and is now higher than it has ever been," said Martel. "As of March 31, 2004, March 31, 2005, and March 31, 2006, 89, 399, and 753 children, respectively, were waiting for IBI treatment to begin. Today's announcement won't do anything for the vast majority of children desperately waiting to access this widely-acclaimed treatment."

Martel is also concerned that the funding announced won't even reach children with autism. A summary of the autism budget and expenditures shows that in 2003-04, six months under the McGuinty Liberal 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 various children's programs instead of autism. Martel recently submitted a Freedom of Information request asking for information about autism funding during the 2005-06 fiscal year.

"The parents of autistic children in this province have heard the McGuinty government's rhetoric before and few believe it anymore," said Martel. "Just recently, we learned that this government is trying to reopen the Court of Appeal case involving a number of families of autistic children which would delay the Court's ruling. This government's decision to continue aggressively fighting parents and their autistic children in court, rather than implementing Justice Frances Kiteley's comprehensive court ruling, is shameful."

In April 2005, the Ontario Superior Court ruled the McGuinty government was violating the Charter of Rights of Ontario's autistic children on the basis of both their age and disability. Justice Kiteley also ruled that the minister of education had violated the Education Act by refusing to provide the programs and services necessary for autistic children to learn in Ontario's school system.

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