This question was asked by Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown in question period twice today, only to be asked by the speaker of the legislature to withdrawal the questions. Question I would like to pose; why is the speaker of the Ontario legislature shutting down completely legitimate questions to the government?
This latest bought in the heart wrenching autism policy war for parents, comes a day after the Toronto Star released an investigative piece on a letter of dismay written by experts tasked to revamp the new autism program shortly after Wynne’s government announced the changes. In the letter the panel of 6 experts expressed concerns regarding the government’s position on removing kids over 5 from intensive therapy; a move in which the government has not back tracked on to date. In the letter addressed to Tracy McCharles the Minister of Children and Youth Services at the time the panel stated:
The new program, as it has been described, treats children five and up as if their needs and capacities are qualitatively different from those younger than five years of age. There is no evidence to support this view.
The letter also expressed concerns regarding how the new program is being rolled out:
The autism program was “initiated prematurely, without sufficient consultation” with families, schools, professionals and the committee and should have been developed and tested first, perhaps as a pilot project.
The committee’s report cited by the ministry did not propose imposing an age cut-off. Instead, it envisioned an IBI program refocused on children ages two to four only if there were ample supports for older children provided in schools and through an enhanced version of the Ontario’s applied behaviour analysis (ABA) program.
What the Ontario Government has done is essentially stopped all treatment, and only paid some support for families that were on the wait list prior to April 1st, 2016. Others while waiting for the new program to be put in place (there is still no details as to what exactly this new autism program will look like in June 2017) are left with no support at all. A sentiment echoed by Brown today in his question to the deputy premier, in which he was not provided an answer. It was also echoed by the panel in the statement above that this transition was not properly planned. As a result, kids like my son who are over the age of 5 are falling through the cracks.
What’s more troubling is the fact that the speaker of the legislature quite obviously wants to shut down questions regarding the new autism program, and problems with this “transition”, and misleading statements by government. I find that extremely interesting, and possibly an abuse of power. The panel of experts has had their tongues cut out in the form of confidentiality agreements, and refuse to speak on the matter even though they have an ethical and moral duty to do so. I’m a Liberal, and this doesn’t represent the Liberal ideology of transparency in democracy.
I’m getting so sick of having to question Wynne as a Liberal at every turn, and getting sick and tired of seeing this woman play politics with not just my son’s future, but the future of many kids in Ontario. She has done nothing but pile on enormous amounts of stress on the backs of parents at the expense of a failed approach to spin problems that are in crisis, rather than actually show true leadership. To get this Liberal government to even acknowledge a crisis in policy is like slow Chinese water torture, while pulling your finger and toe nails out, and getting castrated all at the same time. As such this is a government that has significantly lost touch with the people they represent since Wynne has taken over, and is obsessed with narcissistic behaviors rather than concrete viable policy. It’s time for the Liberal Party of Ontario to re-boot its leader, and clean out the desks of the kids in short pants.
UPDATE: August 15th, 2016 10:45pm:
The Ontario Autism Coalition has just released a press release in which it is demanding an apology from the Minister of Children and Youth Services for misinforming parents, and will be holding protests outside the Minister’s office tomorrow. In my view this also raises very serious questions as to why the speaker of the legislature today shut down Patrick Brown on asking the government why they have misinformed parents. From the Ontario Autism Coalition press release:
“It’s about openness and transparency,” says OAC President Bruce McIntosh, “and it’s also about trust. What little trust that may have existed (between the Liberals and the autism community) has been seriously shaken … by the news that a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) was used to enable the government to promote and disseminate a false version of expert advice.”