April 18th, 2019

NDP Children and Youth Services critic, local MPPs push back against cuts to autism services in Sudbury

SUDBURY – NDP Children and Youth Services critic, Monique Taylor, was in Sudbury on Tuesday to attend a community town hall organized by the Northern Ontario Autism Alliance to push back against Doug Ford’s cuts to the Ontario Autism Program (OAP).

Taylor was joined by local NDP MPPs Jamie West (Sudbury) and France Gélinas (Nickle Belt).

“Under the Ford government, cuts to the autism program have been devastating for families. Doug Ford has caused enormous anxiety and confusion for parents, and layoffs to service providers across the province, with northern and rural areas hurt especially hard,” said Taylor.

“As Child and Youth Services critic, I will continue working to ensure every child with autism, or any other disability, is given the same opportunities to thrive as any other child.”

The Northern Ontario Autism Alliance is comprised of a group of parents of children with autism, service providers, and adults with autism from across the North who have organized to raise their concerns with the changes made to the OAP. The town hall discussion highlighted the unique challenges for northern families.

“Doug Ford’s overhaul of autism services is hurting families in northern Ontario,” said West. “These cuts have created significant financial, physical, and emotional strain on parents who may no longer be able to provide their children the therapy they need.”

In February, the Ford Conservatives announced an overhaul of the OAP that will remove services for high needs children, leaving children with autism with less support. Doug Ford’s budget confirmed drastic cuts to the Ministry of Children, Community, and Social Services, including cruel cuts to autism supports.

“Even before the changes to OAP, families often found it difficult to find a therapist, because there are not enough providers in our area,” said West. “This was especially difficult for francophone families looking for services in French. Now, under the Ford government’s plan, families are losing all hope their children will ever get the support that they need to thrive.”

In the last month, 19 staff at Child and Community Resources in Northern Ontario were laid off as a result of the government’s cuts to autism therapy funding. Northern and rural communities were already underserved and these cuts will only make things worse.

Gélinas said that New Democrats are committed to working with families to get the autism services their children need.

“Families in northern Ontario deserve more from this government. They deserve a program that will help their children wherever they are in this province.”