Orangeville Council voices concern over cuts to funding of autism

June 9, 2016   ·   0 Comments

Orangeville Council added their voice May 30 to the growing concern over Provincial autism cuts which many parents feel threaten to leave thousands of Ontario kids without effective therapy.

Council responded to a delegation by Kelly McDowell of Horning’s Mills, who continues to approach municipal councils for support on a motion which requests the Provincial government reconsider the cuts they have instituted for Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) Therapy for autistic children over the age of five. She received unanimous support and even gratitude from Orangeville councillors.

The cuts to IBI services, considered by many as a bandaid solution to long waiting lines for treatment, means many children, like Ms. McDowell’s five-year-old daughter Emily, will no longer receive the expensive, but life-changing therapy that brings many Autistic children out of non-verbal to an interactive state, allowing them to share their often unique gifts of intelligence and creativity with the world.

Ms. McDowell told Council that Orangeville is the “hub of IBI treatment” for Dufferin County. She explained that the treatment decreases the frequency of challenging behaviours, builds social skills, promotes language development, and prepares children for school.

She says her daughter is scheduled to lose IBI treatment, which can cost as much as $70,000 a year, this month.

Mayor Jeremy Williams made it clear that he feels the provincial government’s motivations for the cuts were purely financial. “They are doing it for money, plain and simple,” he said during Council, “and to adjust the ridiculous waiting list.” Children currently wait years to receive the therapy. He said the government should be “jumping to help and they’re not.” He gave “kudos” to Ms. McDowell and thanked her for “pushing” the issue.

Councillor Gail Campbell called the cuts “something our government needs to reconsider,” and said she would be “very proud to put the motion forward for Council’s consideration.” The motion passed quickly and unanimously.

Even as Ms. McDowell presented her delegation to Orangeville Council, in Oakville, that Council was re-reading their version of the resolution. It was Oakville that first wrote the resolution, but in the end, their councillors voted for what Ms. McDowell describes as “a watered-down version” of the motion.

The concerned mother says, had she been at Oakville Council, she would have told councillors they were not being asked to be experts. “We are asking them to ask the Ontario government to reconsider their changes, as they are discriminating against children over five.” She added, “Parents are the experts.”

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