Opposition says Wynne government abandoning children with autism needs

The leader of the Progressive Conservatives says the Ontario Liberal government has misled parents of autistic children about treatment.

In the spring, Premier Kathleen Wynne announced that the Ontario provincial government would deal with a backlog of about 3,500 children with autism. The children were considered too old for effective intensive behavioural intervention (IBI) treatment. The government offered a one-time grant of $8,000 for those not on the treatment list.

During question period, on Thursday, PC leader Patrick Brown asked the Acting Premier Deborah Matthews if the former minister of children and youth services had mislead the House about using “expert knowledge” to remove children from the waitlist.

“This government has put families with children with autism through unimaginable pain and stress,” Brown argued. “This government looked those parents in the eyes and told them that they were following expert advice. This simply was categorically false.”

Current Minister Michael Coteau disagreed with the Opposition leader.

“What we’re trying to do here as a government is to establish a new (autistic) program in Ontario that will open up 16,000 new spots,” Coteau said. “By June of next year, (we will) build a new system that will allow for children to be diagnosed earlier.”

The Wynne government plan was to dedicate an investment of $500 million and set up a new autism program in Ontario. Coteau said the government’s goal was for children to get the skills they need and the ability to access the programs and services they need to reach their full potential.

According to Brown, parents are calling, emailing and tweeting him about not getting any money to help cover costs of IBI treatment.

“Not a single cent,” Brown said.