Saturday, May 27, 2006

"McGuinty...makes me sick"

The frustrated parent of an autistic child deprived of adequate assistance in Ontario laments on CTV: "I voted for McGuinty, and it makes me sick. It makes me absolutely sick".

Stacey Haley, mother of autistic twin boys, is one of several Ontario parents having to leave home and extended family and move to Alberta in order for her sons to receive proper care. She says she doesn't "see a future" in Ontario:

The Liberals promised in their 2003 election campaign to lift "unfair'' and "discriminatory'' age limits on costly childhood autism therapy. But now they're appealing an Ontario Superior Court decision from April 2005 that gave parents the right to provincial funding for a specialized autism therapy extended beyond the previous cutoff age of six years.

While lifting the cutoff is helpful, Haley said it still doesn't address lengthy waiting lists for specialized therapy.

She's been trying unsuccessfully to get government funding for more than a year to access Intensive Behavioural Intervention therapy that's supposed to give autistic kids a better chance at coping with the condition later in life.

I'm not surprised that McWimpy is backing down from yet another election promise. He needs some wiggle-room to assuage political bumblings like the Caledonia fiasco.

In another CTV report, the father of a six-year old autistic boy calls the Ontario provincial government "despicable":

New Democrat health critic Shelley Martel said the Ministry of Children and Youth Services is not funding families of autistic children at the promised levels.

Martel said Freedom of Information requests have revealed that in 2003-04, the ministry budgeted $80 million for autism but never used $32 million of it.

The following fiscal year, $89 million was budgeted for autism services, but $21 million was diverted to other children's programs in the ministry.

Martel said that in the meantime, about 400 autistic children who qualified for therapy were "languishing'' on a years-long waiting list.

"A government that does that has no morals,'' she said. "They have betrayed these families."

Too bad these parents won't be around in 2007 to vent their anger against the Lieberals in the next provincial election. Perhaps we can take up the cause for them.


Red Tory said...

What did Harris do to fix the problem?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

OMG! Is this the latest variation of Godwin's Law?

Sara said...

I just got off the phone with her and she is trying to find someone to go to Queens Park with me, there is a wide range of families out there like hers and we can't keep ignoring their needs... special children have special needs

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Sara - Wow! That is so awesome!!!

You sure are a "do"-er. Most of us just sit back and complain.

doug said...

Just on the principle that SOMEONE needs to say it----

At what point does society as a whole have both a right and perhaps even a duty to say that it cannot afford to use its resources to treat a specific problem ?

Does everyone believe that capacities are infinitely elastic ,and that a decision to spend money in one area has no detrtimental impact on the resources available in other areas?

Alberta is NOT a good example. It is clearly awash in Oil money and frankly has more cash than it reasonably knows what to do with. Ontario (and the rest of the provinces)--not so much.

Are we to simply keep spending and spending and spending on EVERY Health Issue forever?

Whatever my opinion or yours might be, I suspect that sooner rather than later the answer will be NO.

Before we just all decide to do the 'decent' thing, should there not be a comprehensive analysis on the exact repercussions of this type of action?

What is the 'cost' of spending a VAST quantity of health-care resources on this specific problem? This type of 'sympathetic' response, is not going to solve the problem. It's like National Child Care. Perhaps a good idea, but at what price.

Good intentions are not a sustainable basis for long-term good governance. Good policy is.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Doug, you make a very good point - one that had crossed my mind as well. But two things come to mind. One is that this was an election promise.

The other is that we are funding all kinds of things already that are costing a fortune; like abortion on demand. If that is a right, how is this not a right? Also, the question of whether or not the province has to fund operations for gender reassignment is before a Human Rights Commission. Guess who will win that one?

Dennis said...

I, too am a parent of an autistic son, six years old. The red tape we have to cut through and the hoops we have to jump through never ends.

Last Provincial election, was a one issue election for me. As a lifelong Tory, I held my nose and voted Liberal because McGuinty promised to do more for children like my son. Then I find out that his Government is APPEALING a court ruling that would enable my son to have access to this funding for IBI (Intensive Behavior Intervention)?! I have come to realize that I made the biggest mistake in my life by voting Liberal even once, but that goes to show you that parents will do ANYTHING if it might help their children.

See, the thing is Doug, that if we want to ensure that these children have a productive life, we have to get them diagnosed and treated early, the earlier the better. If we don't have an opportunity to painstakingly teach them the skills that come so easy to everyone else, they WILL fall through the cracks, and the money that it will take to care for them will be a lot more then if we invest NOW.

Christian Conservative said...

I, for one, will be one ticked off voter if we end up having to fund gender "reassignments". You're right Joanne... the line needs to be drawn somewhere.

Doug, I do think that this is one case where additional funding is appropriate. However, as you said with the "never ending funding requests", I agree with you whole-heartedly that we do need to draw a line somewhere in the sand, and then stand firm when various lobby groups try to raise a stink via the media.

Yep, Godwin's law has been redefined by the left. Anything "Harris" is automatically bad. But I'll tell you this, if his name was on the ballot, that's where my 'X' would be in a heartbeat... and I'd be showing up in his campaign office to volunteer. If it wasn't for him, this province would be in a real mess fiscally.

No matter how much you may have hated him, you have to admit, he did exactly what he said he would do... he stuck to his guns and got it done.

(and for the record, NO, I'm not a member of the provincial Tories)

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Dennis - Thank you so much for your input! The fact that you, as the parent of an autistic child are giving us your perspective gives this discussion so much more depth.

I agree with you 100%. This is a case of a stitch in time saves nine, or whatever other old adage you want to resurrect, but it is still so true. We are going to have to fund this disorder one way or another, so why not get to it right away, and give the kids a fighting chance at some kind of quality of life? Count on my support to make McGuinty pay for this one way or another!

Christian Conservative - How is it that the lobby groups like Egale are so successful in their pursuits, and yet these children are being discriminated against?

BTW, I would vote for Harris too, if given the choice between him and McSquinty, and I have no affilitation with the provincial Tories either.

Zac said...

"McSquinty" eh?

Wasn't it you Joanne who got offended when I called Harper fat on my blog? Didn't you state how men who hold such high offices weren't the subject of ridule?

Not that I'm upset or anything, I just find it funny how it only goes one way.

Meh, perhaps I'm just nitpicking this Saturday morning.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Nah, go ahead Zac. Harper's middle is fair game. On the other hand, I'm going after a name, not a physical attribute. If McGuinty couldn't walk, I wouldn't call him McGimpy then. That wouldn't be fair.

Zac said...

Speaking of Harper's gut, my friend called him a funny name the other day, "The Hungry, Hungry Hippo-crit"

I thought that was kinda funny. Not sure why I'm sharing that with you but, oh well.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

O.K. That is kind of cute, even though I don't agree. My kids used to play that game. Drove me nuts! Way too noisy. :) Ah, those were the days.

Zac said...

Its kinda light hearted.

I used to play that game also. I never really liked it though.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Yeah, ours ended up in a garage sale. Well, back to my gardening. I'm making up for last weekend!

Chuckercanuck said...

the weekend is truly gorgeous for us central Canadians. Your premier is a constant source of amusement. But this story isn't funny at all.

Sara said...

I'm still giggling over McSquinty lol,,

as for the harper it was a direct insult to his body type, you would be pissing off all fat people that would be an offensive remark,, saying he's bad cause he's fat... now saying he the person is stupid well that isn't offensive you're not pissing off an entire generation of fatso's,, just one man... you get what I'm trying to say?

Dennis said...

Thanks for the support Joanne. :-)

Having an autistic child presents so many challenges. Our son had major speech delays and self stimulating coping behaviours (i.e. playing with strings, etc.) He almost fell throught the cracks because of the previous cut off for IBI at age six. It was a near miracle that he made it through the waiting list before that cut off.

I'm telling you its a constant fight. Because of our son's very strong academic skills, he started school in grade one after the clinical phase of his therapy. However, because of this, he almost got cut out of the program. A "clinical decision" by the case management team stating that he was too strong academically threatened his therapy!

This was a decision where we weren't even consulted or asked for input. His speech was still way behind, his attention span was still so far behind, and his fine motor skills still lacked. If it wasn't for his IBI worker being with him in the class, he never would have made it through the year. Yet still, they would have cut him out. To this day, I still suspect that they just wanted to get him out of the program to make room for others. And not to begrudge other parents, but there was no WAY this was going to happen to our son. This is why the programs like these need the funding. And for McGuinty and his Government to threaten that after promising to look out for our son's interests sickens me to no end.

And that wasn't the only fight. The public school board in our district (especially the principal) was fighting us every step of the way. She deliberatley put our son in the class with the higher numbers in order to try and take advantage of our son's worker as the extra adult aide in the class. She would use theraputic withdrawl at the drop of a hat, then made the convenient double standard excuse that there wasn't enough class space to accomadate our son's worker.

To this very day we will continue to fight tooth and nail. If it weren't for my wife's constant vigilance and willingness to engage in nuclear war on behalf of our son, he would have been left out in the cold. Luckily for us we are both well educated, have jobs, and have two cars to see our other children to school and get by every day. Can you imagine where single parents, those with little education, and those on social assistance would be right now? I shudder to think.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Sara, you're right about the insult. Thanks for the perspective.

Dennis, your son is very blessed to have you and your wife fighting so hard on his behalf. These days it is so important for the weak and helpless to have an advocate. If you don't speak up, the system will pass you by. It is stressed to the limits, but I think a lot of it is due to mismanagement, and misplaced priorities.

Too bad the Tories aren't in power anymore. Elizabeth Witmer is a local M.P.P. who was health minister in the previous government. I have met her. She is an awesome lady. Perhaps anyone with frustrations in this area should contact her. I'm sure you'll find a sympathetic ear.

Anyway, you parents of autistic kids should organize yourselves, or have you done that already?

Chucker - Dalton is rivalling Bob Rae for biggest Ontario disaster.

Zac said...

"Elizabeth Witmer is a local M.P.P. who was health minister in the previous government"

Funny you'd mention this. As education minister, Witmer's signiture is on my diploma. Part of the reason why I burned it then laughed my ass off.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Zac, Elizabeth was Minister of Health in '97, and then Minister of Education in 2002.

I'll tolerate you saying stuff about Harper's middle if you want, even though Sara disagrees, but don't you ever say anything against Elizabeth Witmer on this blog please. She is one awesome, genuine, warm and amazing lady. She is a woman of integrity and grace. I can't say enough about her, except that as a politician she has it all.

Zac said...

Ok, so I see we're not in the mood for funny business this morning.

Either way, Witmer signed my diploma, you know the transferable, generic signatures on every high school diploma when I graduated in 2002.

She is a nice lady. I met her at a BBQ in Peterborough when I was about 15. I doubt her abilities though, she usually sinks when she tries to walk on water.

Either way, I will agree with you that she is a class act and I'll keep my Witmer comments to myself in the future.

Watchdog said...

FYI: Elizabeth Witmer is also the saame MPP whom flung erroneous charges against MPPs for overspending her "global budget every year that you've been elected?".

She later
had to withdraw the allegation.
- - - - -
Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor West): My question is for the Deputy Premier. Deputy, on Thursday you stood in this House and levelled false accusations against me. What you said in response to my question was that I had been overspending my budget since I arrived here at Queen's Park. Following that question, you had your staff skulk around to the reporters here and tell them that in fact that was false, but you yourself, Deputy Premier, never apologized.

This is not something that just sort of came out by accident. This was fairly premeditated, because you as an individual, who have been here more than 10 years, who have been in opposition and in government, know "full well" that you can't overspend your MPP global budget. You know that information is tabled in this House, and when you get to the end of your cap, it simply stops.

Minister, are you going to do the right thing today and will you stand and apologize for your remarks?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Deputy Premier, Minister of Education): I think what the member is referring to is a rhetorical question that I asked. I would be happy to withdraw the rhetorical question. It was simply a question.

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Supplementary?

Ms Caroline Di Cocco (Sarnia-Lambton): Deputy Premier, that's not the whole story; that's not the end of the story. Staff members from your party have been sending media releases to local newspapers in the southwest, in my riding and others, claiming that other Liberal MPPs have overspent their global budgets. You know these accusations are both impossible and untrue. This issue speaks to the integrity of your government. People of Ontario need to know if they can trust the information their government provides. The information your staff distributed in the southwest is not accurate.

Deputy Premier, will you apologize on behalf of your government for spreading this false information?

Hon Mrs Witmer: I think it's very important that all of us in this House remember the reasons why we were elected. We were elected to serve the people in this province. We were elected to make sure there was job creation in order that we could have the resources to pay for health services and educational services and the protection of our environment.

I believe that it is time that we move forward and that we deal with the issues, the needs of the people in the province of Ontario, and that we move forward in a way that responds to their needs.
- - - - -

Folks, I wish I could help. Dalton McGuinty has erred, again - and that's polite society form of what I'm thinking. But I wouldn't want my democracy to pay the price.

And a Premier Sandra "Lady Churchill" Pupatello will fix all of this. You watch.

I also am a fan of Blogging Tories and the Right Honorable Stephen Harper, MP.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Zac, thanks. Sorry if I flew off the deep end there, but there are precious few enough women politicians, and if you find one that's honourable, that's a plus.

Watchdog (?) - I clicked on your name and got highjacked to a Sandra Putatello site! Well, nobody is above making a mistake; even Mr. Harper. We are all human. The trick is to try to discern between the ones who are deliberately misleading, and those who make an honest mistake, as we all have been known to do.

The defining mark of an honourable person is how graciously they admit their error and apologize (IMO).

Zac said...

She is a very nice lady, and she is honourable. Obviously, her and I see things differently which is why I criticize her from time to time.

I remember when I was in grade 11, she came to our school to give a speech about drugs. I'm not sure why I'm bringing that up, but either way.

Watchdog said...

Joanne (True Blue);

Knowing Sandra Pupatello (hence the link which in 2nd thought was a mistake) and how hard she & her staff took that attack based on falsehoods, I felt I should tell you all. I couldn't vote for Witmer to save much. And as much as I've turned conservative, I'd follow Sandra Pupatello to the depth of hell and back.

That said, knowing autistic people too - McGuinty makes me puke, too. He also signed a taxpayer protection pledge that he had no buisness signing because of the Magna budget & special warrants that hid the real budget from the people. McGuinty was aware of all of this.

I think the next Ontario election will be tough on Ontarians to choose...

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Watchdog, that's interesting. I guess there is always two sides to every story, and we shouldn't put anyone on a pedestal.

I think we can all agree that we dislike McGuinty though. I personally don't totally hate my M.P.P., who is Liberal, so it will be a tough call for me as well.

How do you feel about Slitherman?

Candace said...

I'm torn between being delighted that once again Alberta seems to be the frontrunner in providing services (especially since we always seem to be accused of trying to kill healthcare), and bugged that people are moving here specifically for those services, as it can't be a cheap program to run.

On the bright side, those parents will need jobs and we sure are short of people, so... we still win.

While I don't (thank God) have an autistic child I did work for a psychologist that was providing intensive therapy to one in Vancouver, and he was making leaps and bounds beyond 'traditional' expectations. It was certainly not a cheap exercise, and I recall wondering what parents without those sorts of financial resources would do. I guess now I know.

Mac said...

Wait a minute... isn't Alberta a hotbed of conservatism? Doesn't this kind of shoot down the whole "conservatives aren't compassionate" theory?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Candace - God bless Alberta!

Mac - lol! The Liberals would have you believe that they have the exclusive rights to any form of social justice- Except of course when they have to cough up the money.

Candace said...

Well, this is interesting. I guess we just HIRE the experts away from the east? I guess compassion comes with them, or something.

I had no idea that we are treating 800 autistic children in western Canada. That's a pretty significant number, I would think. It sounds, though, like that number will be increasing if the families mentioned in your post are just the tip of the iceberg.

Soccermom said...

I have a child with Down Syndrome, and we face challenges like this every day. And we didn't receive ANY funding from the day he was born. Yes, occasionally, through children's services (every child with special needs is usually assigned a social worker)we would get some kind of short term program for him. Anything else (speech therapy) came out of OUR pockets.

Just putting that point out there. There are a few ways you can look at this. There are many, many more children with special needs who need help, not just autistic children! Which children/diagnoses deserve preferential treatment/government funding? These are difficult questions for which there are certainly no simple answers.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Candace - Wow, that is something. So the parents with autistic children are moving out west, and so are the experts. How ironic.

Soccermom - That's a good point too. How can this be done fairly and equitably? One thing for sure, there are a lot of needs here, and not much funding.

Soccermom said...

FYI, Joanne tb, I am speaking as a westerner, having lived in all the western provinces during my lifetime so far, most recently here in B.C. (as you can tell from my late posts). I enjoy getting your Ontarian perspective and finding out what's happening in your backyard!

I know that here in B.C., autistic children receive approx $20,000 per year (under school age) for ABA therapy and such, once they receive a diagnosis. (If I'm wrong, someone please correct me!) I think the same is true once the children are of school age here, the funding is likely cut off or much reduced. But I can say, as a parent of a child with as many needs as any autistic child, I would have been THRILLED to receive even a FRACTION of that $20,000 (that autistic children get) to provide my son some extra therapies when he was younger!

That's why I get so darned angry when I see waste and corruption and grants handed out for every little thing (a la liberal). There are so many more worthy things our tax dollars should go for! Everyone should really think about this!

Candace said...

soccermom, that sucks. BC sells itself as the socialist/liberal province to be-all/end-all yet in fact, drops the ball repeatedly. What people don't seem to "get" is that, without some serious intervention, children like yours or autistic children will be a massive drain on the public purse down the road. Proper, well-defined intervention early (and throughout school years) will help them lead somewhat productive, most-importantly independent lives. They may never run IBM or the country, but they DO have value and CAN contribute, but need an extra push to get there.

Joanne - my limited experience with universities & funding leads me to believe that Alberta will continue to draw the best & brightest (note our Heart Institute that is currently being built, with the grandiose name of "Alberta Clinic" or something equally silly for AB's largest building ever, go figure), as we have the cash for research. I seem to recall Ralph putting $500 million in the budget for cancer research. As someone who walks or uses transit, and only rents a car when I need one, I can actually take the pump prices without a valium. In between rentals, I'm able to smile ;-)

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Soccermom, thanks for that. I guess all the provinces are having some issues in this regard. See, that's my Ontario mentality - everyone is from Ontario unless otherwise specified. Centre of the universe and all that stuff. ;)

Of course, as Candace as mentioned, Alberta is the new centre of the universe, having so much cash to be able to fund all these worthy causes and attract the brightest minds. What would happen if we ALL moved there? lol.

Candace, that's funny about being able to grin at rising gas prices. You can also do that if you buy oil stocks, I guess.

Soccermom said...

Hi, one more point on this. Some Canadians like to rag on and on about how the U.S. lacks compassion, etc. They are miles and miles ahead of us here in Canada when it comes to providing therapies for special needs children, from what I've heard.

Brent Colbert said...

Be careful about your support for Ms. Pupatello, she was the Minister responsable for cancelling the Bridges program that I worked so hard to get through the approvals process before the Eves government was defeated.

The bridges program would have provided skills development suport for autistic children as they make the transition from IBI to school based programs.

It was one of the first actions of the new McGunity Government, they announced that they were putting the program on hold while they reviewed it but now almost 3 years later, kids over 6 have no supports.

This is worse than the broken promise to fund IBI beyond age 6, they actually cut a program as it was starting and replaced it with nothing but broken promises.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Brent - That's VERY interesting. I would love to see watchdog respond to that!!

Excuse my ignorance, but it seems that you are involved in politics, from what you are saying? The bridges program sounds like a wonderful plan. Too bad McSquinty couldn't see that.