Parents with kids on the autism spectrum are about to get louder in their rally cry against the Doug Ford Government’s planned overhaul of the Ontario Autism Program.
Hamilton-born darlings Arkells have given their blessing for these families to use their song Relentless. Parent Ross Maclean contacted the band in a tweet, asking if Ontario’s autism community – who are opposed to the announced changes – can use the song in their fight against the Doug Ford Government.
The Arkells gave their blessing and even called out the Premier, tweeting “Dougie, my man! I thought you were for the people? “
It’s all yours.— ARKELLS (@arkellsmusic) February 16, 2019
Dougie, my man! I thought you were for the people? https://t.co/o4zXwzUq2x
Changes designed to clear the current wait list
The provincial government says an overhaul of the Ontario Autism Program is on the way, and that the changes would ease the wait list for over 23,000 families. But some local families say the government isn’t being entirely forthcoming with their announcement, that they are “pushing Peter off a cliff to pay Paul.”
Beth Kleinsteiber’s 9-year-old-daughter, Paige, has a low-functioning form of autism and is partially non-verbal. Under the new rules, Paige would receive approximately 7.5 hours of therapy a month, which Kleinsteiber calls “basically useless.”
The young girl attends IBI Behavioural Services in Barrie, and her mother says the changes in her since then have been completely life changing; Paige can now express to her mom if she isn’t feeling well, or what she wants for dinner. Her mother worries that the changes in funding will mean she has to sit back and watch her daughter “not reach her full potential”
Parents protest outside of MPP Andrea Khanjin’s office
Raquel Turner was one of about a hundred people who rallied outside local MPP Andrea Khanjin’s south Barrie office on Thursday. She says the money being offered now falls far too short.
“What the government is offering is pretty much nothing. Four hundred dollars a month doesn’t cover therapy.” she says “It’s $8,800 a month to cover therapy. There is no family that could ever afford that.” Raquel says she has two children on the spectrum.
The proposed changes
The government has touted the changes will clear the current wait list, but it will also mean children who are currently receiving funding will have their funds cut, and they will be transitioned back in to schools.
The government is also putting in an age cap: Children between the ages of 2-5 would be eligible for $55,000 until they are 18 years of age. If the child is over 9, they would receive $40,000. There is, however, a yearly cap on these funds of lifetime amount of $4,000 a year for services that currently cost upwards of $80,000.