HAMILTON – Sandy Shaw (Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas), and NDP Critic for Children, Community, and Social Services, Monique Taylor (Hamilton Mountain), have written a letter to Merrilee Fullerton demanding urgent support for families of children with autism. Full text can be found below:
Hon. Merrilee Fullerton
Minister of Children, Community and Social Services
438 University Ave - 7th Floor
Toronto, ON M5G 2K8
January 13, 2023
Dear Minister Fullerton,
We are writing you today to draw your attention to the urgent matter of Danielle and her family,
who are currently facing an impossible decision as of a result of the Ontario Autism Program.
Danielle has two autistic sons, aged 18 and 2. When her eldest son was first diagnosed many
years ago, he received therapy services almost immediately after signing up for a waitlist. He has
befitted enormously from these services over the years and is now on the cusp of high school
graduation, with dreams of taking on a trade.
Danielle’s two-year old son has not been so lucky. She expects it will take a full year for him to
just receive an Ontario Autism Program (OAP) number, and he will face several additional years
of waiting before supports kick in. The consequences for her son’s care will be devastating, and
Danielle’s family is not the only one facing this problem. The Ministry of Children, Community,
and Social Services has failed to fund critical autism services for thousands of children across this
province. This is a serious matter, and it needs to be addressed.
Facing a potential 4-5 year wait for support, Danielle will have to make an urgent and impossible
choice – should she take on irreparable financial hardship and borrow money for expensive
services, as too many Ontario families have had to do? Or is she better off uprooting her family
and moving to a more compassionate province, where she can receive affordable and reliable
Danielle and her family are valued members of our Hamilton community, and we are determined
to help them get the support and funding they need. We are requesting your immediate
attention to this case.
Minister, we need a clear answer from you. What is your plan to support autistic children and
their families while they wait years for affordable support?
The Ministry owes children and their families a higher standard in the provision of autism
services and support moving forward. So, we are additionally requesting an immediate update
on how many children were provided with funding in 2022 and a timeline of the Ministry’s
funding targets for 2023.
We urge you to act immediately to ensure that children with autism have full support and access
to services, and their families have the resources available to care for their children.
We look forward to your response.
MPP, Hamilton Mountain
MPP, Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas