The following is an excerpt from the “instant Hansard” at Queen’s Park, supplied to us by Andrea Horwath, MPP, the NDP member for Hamilton Centre. The OAC thanks Andrea and the NDP caucus for working with us to hold the government accountable. OAC members should be aware that the McGuinty Liberals refused the NDP’s request for a unanimous consent motion allowing all three parties to speak about the UN Day for up to 5 minutes.
April 2, 2008
World Autism Awareness Day
Ms. Andrea Horwath: Today is the historic first-ever United Nations World Autism Awareness Day. I’d like to formally recognize this important day in the Ontario Legislature and acknowledge the efforts of families with children with autism who are fighting hard for better services in Ontario. As well, on behalf of New Democrats, I want to commend the diligent and dedicated work being done by the many autism stakeholder groups in communities across this province and Canada.
The situation for children with autism and their families is dire in Ontario, I’m sorry to say. The number of children on waiting lists for IBI therapy was 1,063 as of December 2007, up from 985 in March of that year. Similarly, more children are waiting to be assessed for treatment: 334 children in March, and nine months later, 381.
I would like to thank Sharon Gabison of the Ontario Autism Coalition for the following survey results-a snapshot from families seeking help for children with autism: The average waiting time to access publicly funded IBI/ABA is 17 months-some families have waited anywhere from three to seven years; 82% of respondents noted that there was no ABA in the public school system-parents have to keep their children home from school to provide them with ABA; over half the families liquidated assets to fund their child’s treatment while on the waiting list, spending an average of $35,000 for minimum hours.
How tragic that on the very first World Autism Awareness Day we see that Ontario is falling further behind, and I put that at the feet of the McGuinty Liberal government who are failing our children.