Published Monday, May 16, 2016 10:41AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, May 16, 2016 3:59PM EDT
About a dozen parents gathered outside CHEO’s Montreal Road Autism office Monday to rally against proposed changes to provincial autism services.
In March Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced her government would invest $333 Million over the next five years to improve autism services. Wynne said the changes would significantly reduce wait times for the government funded Intensive Behavioural Intervention services, also known as IBI, while prioritizing the service for kids aged two to four.
But parents of children with autism argue the changes will have a negative impact on their kids development.
Brenna Bloodworth has two sons five and under. She said her sons have waited more than two years to start IBI treatment. The proposed changes would take both children off the wait list in a matter of months.
“It’s the only therapy that they have only needed,” she said.
When asked about what the future holds for her sons, Bloodworth said it’s uncertain.
“Considering I’m a single mom with two kids that have opposite and individual needs, it’s not looking good,” she said. “It’s not possible for one person to manage on their own.”
Under the Ontario Autism Program children five and over will not receive as much funding for IBI services. The government has proposed an $8,000 one-time funding to parents to help purchase “community services.”
However, parents at the rally said the cost of IBI treatment without a government subsidy can be tens of thousands of dollars. Tanya Corey said it will cost her more than $60,000 to give her four-and-a-half-year-old son private IBI therapy.
“He will be removed from the list as of October 10th with access to no services that he has been deemed eligible for by CHEO,” she said.
“It’s absolutely devastating. IBI works,” she added. “He needs full-time IBI and we just can’t afford it.”
Similar rallies have been held across the province, including outside Queen’s Park. Dozens of parents and children showed up to a rally in March outside Ontario Minister Yasir Naqvi’s constituency office in Ottawa.