UPDATE: MPP Responds After Parents Rally Outside Barrie Area Office Over Ontario Autism Program Changes

Dozens March In Front of Khanjin's Office While the MPP Is Out of Town

February 15th

Barrie 360 has received the following statement from MPP Andrea Khanjin following a rally outside her office yesterday:

“I commend the parents and families for standing up for their children who have to deal with the challenges that Autism brings to their lives every single day. This is a very important issue and we are taking action to improve access to services and supports so more families of children and youth living with autism can receive fair and balanced services. I want to ensure that I am open and accessible to the parents and welcome them to contact my office. I, along with Doug Downey, will be visiting the local IBI Centre on February 22nd to hear from the parents and those who work with the children every day.”

Andrea Khanjin, Barrie-Innisfil MPP

February 14th

Dozens of parents and their children gathered near Andrea Khanjin’s south Barrie office to make their fears known.

Raquel Turner was one of over a hundred people in attendance Thursday morning, telling Barrie 360 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.

Parents Marched Through the Slush and Snow to Make Their Concerns Known

Related: Local Families “Devastated” by PC Government’s Changes to Autism Funding

Earlier this month, the PC government revised the Ontario Autism Program with claims it was an effort to cut wait times for families not in the program. The provincial government doubled funding to the five diagnostic hubs that assess children for the program, hoping to ease the 23,000-strong wait list.

Related: Queen’s Park Overhauls Ontario Autism Program

The overhaul of the system also capped the amount of funding per child, dependent on age, with lifetime amounts spread out over time. Funding many parents claim is woefully inadequate to cover the cost of therapy.

Barrie 360 reached out to Khanjin for comment. She is away until this weekend. Her staff said she will respond as soon as possible.