Simard condemns PCs’ autism cuts
Glengarry- Prescott- Russell MPP Amanda Simard stood with parents who had gathered at her Hawkesbury constituency office on Saturday to protest the government’s changes to its autism program.
Ms. Simard, who was elected as a Conservative MPP in June before the government’s decision to cancel plans for a French language university prompted her to sit as an independent, says that the government’s decision will have a devastating effect on people living with autism.
The PCs introduced sweeping changes to the autism program, including dropping the amount of funding a family receives to $5,000 per year once the autistic child turns six. That was bad news to families with children who require massive amounts of therapy, sometimes to the tune of $100,000 per year.
Late last month, there was a glimmer of hope as the government announced it would extend initial funding for another six months, but several parents are afraid that once that time is up, the PCs will remain locked on their current course.
Ms. Simard says she would like to see at least two changes in the government model - eliminating the age cap and ensuring that autism funding is needs-based on a child-by-child basis. She says that the government made its decision because it wanted to eliminate the wait list for families trying to access therapy. Unfortunately, she says the solution was to redistribute funding among all the families, leaving everyone with a piddling amount that isn’t enough to access the services they need.
“This doesn’t help,” she says. “Families need the necessary resources, not the crumbs.”
She says the government’s decision just reassured her that she made the right decision to sit as an independent.
“I don’t like this style of government,” she says.
But Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry MPP Jim McDonell is quick to defend his government’s decision. In fact, he says that the Conservatives had added $75 million to the province’s autism plan just to get kids off the waiting list.
He also mentioned that the new plan will provide schools with an additional $12,500 for every student who is on the autism spectrum.
Regarding the funding cap at age six, he says that’s because the science says that the best results usually come when autistic kids get treatment before that age.