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Provincial update: Changes to autism services leave families behind 

Submitted by Joel Harden, MPP Ottawa Centre – 

In Ottawa and across Ontario, parents, medical professionals and autism advocates are speaking out with one voice, calling on the Ford government to stop its disastrous changes to the Ontario Autism Program. 

Instead of listening to parents and putting new investment into the program, the government is capping support at $8,750 per year. This is despite intensive therapies costing up to $70,000 each year. 

While the current program keeps too many parents on the waitlist for too long, the PC’s plan will make the situation even worse, depriving thousands of children with autism of the support they need to thrive.  

On February 16, our office hosted an emergency roundtable about the impact of the government’s changes. People spoke movingly about how their children will suffer without therapy, and about the financial hardship that forcing families to pay out of pocket for expensive but vital services will cause. 

This is not a partisan issue – this is about the health and well-being of children. The government needs to go back to the drawing board, and meaningfully consult with the autism community about creating a plan that’s fair, and that meets the individual needs of children. 

Parents, professionals and people with autism deserve better. They deserve to be treated with respect, and they deserve to be heard. I’m proud to stand with them in this fight. 

If you’re affected by this issue and have a story that you would like to share, send us an email at jharden-co@ndp.on.ca. 

Remembering Paul Dewar

We mourn the loss of former Ottawa Centre MP Paul Dewar, who passed away on February 6. Paul was a giant, someone who dedicated his life to building a more just city and country. 

Paul’s poignant farewell message offered these words, which capture what we need in politics today: “My mom was a strong feminist, and she said something very important that I learned at an early age: ‘Don’t be afraid of power, know how to use and share it, and give it to those who don’t have it.’”

These are words to live by, and values that I hope to see reflected in the work we do.

Community Builders’ Forum

Ottawa is filled with community builders – people who devote their time to making our neighbourhoods better places to live. We want to celebrate the work of local community builders, and to provide an opportunity for them to share their skills with you, so we can encourage a culture of community organizing.

Join us on April 26-28 for our Community Builders’ Forum. You can register now at joelharden.ca/forum. 

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