Uproar in Ontario over autism changes sparks national call for federal action
Ontario is not the only province where children and adults with autism are struggling for support, says a national alliance that is calling for a federal strategy to address the neurological disorder that affects one in 66 children across the country.
Improved federal disability tax credits, supportive housing, employment programs, public awareness and research are among the measures Ottawa can take immediately as part of a national co-ordinated approach, the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance says in a blueprint released Monday.
“Autism is not just a provincial responsibility or a federal responsibility — it is a Canadian responsibility,” Sen. Jim Munson told an Ottawa news conference.
Munson, an honorary member of the alliance, spearheaded a 2007 Senate report, “Pay Now or Pay Later: Autism Families in Crisis” that urged Ottawa to act more than a decade ago.
“The ‘later’ has certainly arrived,” he told reporters. “And the missing link is a national autism strategy led by the (federal) government.”
Ontario families of children with autism have been in crisis since February when the Ford government announced sweeping changes to provincial funding aimed at eliminating a therapy wait list of 23,000 kids.