October 15th, 2020

MPP West calls on Ford to stop ignoring children with autism during pandemic

SUDBURY – Jamie West, NDP MPP for Sudbury, in collaboration with the Northern Autism Alliance (NOAA) held a virtual town hall on Wednesday night with local families of children with autism who are bearing the weight of cuts to autism services, and longer wait times for needed services during the COVID-19 crisis.

West said this is especially true in francophone and rural communities. A one-size fits all approach to services will not suffice. The North has different needs than the rest of Ontario, including the need to easily access francophone services and funding to cover extensive travel costs to access therapy.

“Autism services in the North are scarce and families of children with autism deserve better,” said West. “They have been fighting for access to the therapy and mental health supports they desperately need while the Ford Conservatives have been making cuts and dragging their feet on a new program. This government needs to act now and provide the fully funded needs-based program northern families are waiting for.”

MPP West held the town hall to hear from the community about the kind of issues families have been dealing with and how we can work together to make things better. West and NOAA hosted three panelists: Shannon Lavoie and Shannon Ketchabaw, Parents of children diagnosed with autism and Sylvie Grenier, a bilingual Board Certified assistant Behaviour Analyst (BCaBA) from the North, serving children and their families in schools and homes.

“Especially now during this pandemic, these children need and deserve our help,” said West. “We’ve heard from many concerned families who are overwhelmed during this crisis. There is no more time to waste. Each day families are forced to wait jeopardizes their children’s development potential.

“We are urging the Ford government to stop pinching pennies on the backs of children with autism, listen to families in Sudbury, and provide the supports they need, now.”