Lack of funding leaves terrible choice
There have been a number of stories in the media as of late regarding the support, or lack thereof, for parents of autistic adults. For that matter, the lack of support for any adult with challenging needs.
It’s a sad state of affairs in this country where people have to quit their job just to take care of their child because of lack of funding once they turn 19. When a child has special needs there’s programs and workers and funding available, but once they turn 19 they’re apparently now able to survive without assistance? Seems pretty ludicrous.
It’s not just people in low-income brackets who struggle with this either. The costs of caring for an adult with special needs can be astronomical. And it’s not just the financial burden, there’s also an issue of time. Not everyone is capable of taking care of themselves or should be left alone in a home unattended. So what’s the choice then? Go to work or take care of your child. Most of us know what wins there.
There are alternatives of course. A parent could ship their son or daughter off to live in a foster home. No parent should be forced to make that choice, to either work or send their child off to live with strangers. And what of the child? Their parents have been the biggest constants in their lives and now they’re supposed to go live with strangers who don’t know them and would, most likely, provide less loving attention than those who sired them.
One of the most well known cases in recent months was of the Telford family of Ottawa. Amanda Telford, mother of a 19-year-old autistic man, Phillip, left him on the doorsteps of a provincial developmental service office last week. Telford told the media it was the “most heart-wrenching, gut-wrenching feeling in the world to have to do this” but she felt she had no choice. He wandered away and frequently put himself in danger and he had “aged out” of the system.
The reality is the social services system in this country is overtaxed and underfunded. Governments, both federal and provincial, say there simply isn’t any more money to be had. Sure, not enough to take care of our most vulnerable but certainly enough to make sure the Republic of Doyle gets funded here in the province. And federally, well they’re too concerned with cutting costs in search and rescue, among other things, while shrugging their shoulders when asked by the AG where $3.1 billion in anti-terror funding went.
So the parents alone face this burden. But it’s not just the fault of the government. It’s the fault of all of us. All of us who complain when our taxes are raised, all of us who say the government spends too much but keep voting for the same people who did nothing before. The Telfords shouldn’t drop their son off on the doorstep of the government, that’s not where all the blame lies. It lies with each one of us. The Compass encourages letters of local interest, and welcome readers to express opinions in 400 words or less. All letters are subject to editing for grammar, readability, length and taste. Letters must include the first and last name of the writer, or at lease two initials, your last name and hometown. Please include a phone number where you may be reached to verify authenticity before ublication. Anonymous letters will not be considered for publication. Letters should be addressed to the editor. Opinions expressed in letters to the editor are those of the authors. The Compass and Transcontinental Atlantic Media Group do not necessarily endorse the views expressed therein.