WINDSOR — At a joint town hall held in Windsor tonight, Windsor and Essex MPPs Lisa Gretzky (Windsor West), Percy Hatfield (Windsor-Tecumseh) and Taras Natyshak (Essex) addressed community concerns about the Ford government’s cuts to the Ontario Autism Program (OAP), and about services and supports for adults and children with developmental disabilities.
“Doug Ford’s cuts to autism services are hurting families, creating untold financial, physical and emotional strain on parents who were relying on—but will no longer get — anywhere close to adequate funding for their children’s therapy,” Natyshak said.
Last month, the Conservatives announced an overhaul of the OAP that included capping yearly funding for children over five at just $5,000 before income-tested clawbacks. Intensive behavioral therapies can cost as much as $70,000 per year for families with high-needs children, meaning families will be on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars under the new OAP.
“Families are desperate, yet the Ford government refuses to back down on cuts it has made on the backs of vulnerable children and families,” said Hatfield.
Gretzky, who is the Official Opposition critic for Community and Social Services, also highlighted the importance of a private member’s bill she has introduced in the legislature, Noah and Gregory’s Law, which is named after two young men from Windsor. The bill, which Gretzky is urging the Ford government to implement, would ensure that continuous services and support be provided to adults with developmental disabilities – including those with autism – after they turn 18.
“The Liberals and Conservatives have created an unacceptable situation wherein, when people in this province with developmental disabilities turn 18, they lose their youth support and must go through another application process to apply for adult support and prove they still have a disability,” Gretzky said. “Noah and Gregory’s Law would close that gap in services, and eliminate the years-long waitlist that tens of thousands of Ontario families face as their children with developmental disabilities transition to adulthood.”
“People with developmental disabilities have been let down for far too long by the previous Liberal government, and are being dragged further backwards by the Ford Conservatives,” Hatfield said.
“Ontarians, and Windsor families, deserve a government that listens to and supports the needs of those living with disabilities, not a government that strips supports away.”