October 7th, 2021

Children with autism deserve support, not excuses: Horwath

Waitlist balloons to about 40,000

QUEEN’S PARK — The waitlist for the Ontario Autism Program has ballooned to more than 40,000 children, up from 27,000 in March 2019, and Official Opposition NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is calling on Doug Ford to prioritize the Ontario Autism Program and finally provide children and their families the support they need.

“Everyday, thousands of families have to make tough financial decisions trying to afford expensive therapy for their children with autism. They’re watching their kids’ developmental potential slip away, sometimes losing their precious early intervention window,” said Horwath.

“These families are still struggling and waiting for help. After the last Liberal government cut children’s services off and created a massive waiting list, Doug Ford cut the autism program even deeper, refusing to prioritize it, refusing to prioritize kids.”

Stacy Kennedy, a mom of a child with autism, has been on a waitlist for four years and found it impossible to get the Doug Ford government to respond to her son’s urgent needs. She camped out in front of Ford’s office for six days before Ford agreed to speak with her.

“Families are desperate for help. Parents like Stacy Kennedy are looking for action — looking for the Ontario Autism Program to be fixed, funded and prioritized. And their little ones deserve nothing less,” said Horwath.

“If I were premier today, what I’d do differently is fully fund needs-based services for kids with autism, and end the waiting.”