Andrea Horwath Says Families of Children with Autism have Spoken

Ontario Provincial News

New Democrat leader Andrea Horwath
New Democrat leader Andrea Horwath

QUEEN’S PARK – POLITICS – Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath said that families of children living with autism have spoken, and they oppose Doug Ford’s scheme to rip supports and treatment away from their kids. On Wednesday, about 200 families from every part of the province joined the NDP at Queen’s Park to push back against Ford’s callous cuts to autism services — all families with a child with autism, all devastated by Ford’s cut to funding.

“People everywhere are coming together to fight back against Conservative cuts that rip funding away from the kids that need it most,” said Horwath. “Parents joining us today just want what’s best for their kids but for years, they struggled and languished on Liberal wait lists for autism supports. Now, Doug Ford is making things even worse by ripping funding away from the highest needs children and giving everyone so much less.

“New Democrats stood with families against Liberal wait lists, we stood with parents and children when the Liberal government tried to end supports and therapies for children over five, and we’re standing with families now against these devastating Conservative cuts. These parents are fighting every day to give their kids the best life and best future possible — they shouldn’t have to also fight with the government to get the support and services their children need and deserve.”

The Ford Conservatives capped direct funding available to children under six at just $20,000 per year and a mere $5,000 annually for children six-years-old and over. Now, families are worried that they may get even less, following a bombshell government admission that only families with an annual household income of less than $55,000 are entitled to the maximum amounts. With some families paying as much as $80,000 per year for intensive behavioural therapies, the Conservative scheme is a deep cut to their funding.

NDP Child and Youth critic Monique Taylor (Hamilton Mountain) was joined by Hamilton parent Nancy Silva-Khan and Toronto parent Tatiana Shifrin.

Silva-Khan has twin seven-year-old boys living with autism, receiving 30 hours a week of intensive therapy, which costs $60,000 per child annually. Under the Conservative plan, Nancy’s boys will receive less than $5,000 each. Shifrin is a mother of three, with two children on the spectrum. One of her boys is receiving therapy now, costing $60,000 a year and the other is on the waitlist. Under the Conservative plan, Shifrin would receive less than $5,000 annually to pay her son’s $60,000 autism support bill.

“Every moment spent on a waitlist is time a child living with autism is not getting the supports that they need, and falling further and further behind in their development, and this new Ford cut means they will likely never, ever get the supports they need,” said Taylor. “Tatiana can’t afford therapy on her own. Her boys will regress and she’s worried they’ll never be ready to go to school. Both Nancy and Tatiana are losing hope. They deserve more from the government, not less.”