Below is my letter to the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services highlighting some of my concerns and suggestions regarding the government's ASD policies, which I had prepared prior to the Minister's announcement today (March 21 2019).
Hon. Lisa MacLeod
Hepburn Block 6th Flr
80 Grosvenor St
Toronto, ON M7A 1E9
21 March 2019
I remain hopeful that my recent expulsion will not impair our ability to maintain a cordial and professional relationship in the advancement of public policy to benefit everyone in Ontario.
As the Ontario Government moves towards reforming policies and services for autism, as well as other services for those with developmental disabilities, I thought I would share a report I provided the previous government on this subject after extensive discussions and experiences assisting families.
In March 2008, and again in March 2009, I hosted two community forums for parents, families and individuals affected by developmental disabilities. I invited service providers and staff from the Ministry of Community and Social Services to come and listen to the obstacles, problems, and short-falls these families and individuals encountered within the system at that time.
While a few of the most glaring and acute problems were remedied, and some other minor improvements were implemented, the overarching problems remained. When I was a member of the PC Caucus, I shared with your policy people how the current Autism proposal could be enhanced. I know you heard from many of your Caucus colleagues who shared similar concerns with the current policy.
The present policy also falls well short of recognizing that parents and families have and continue to do the heavy lifting; offering parents a reasonable hope that the government understands the barriers to their children’s development or that there is an endeavour to further support their children overcome these barriers would relieve some of the acute pressures.
- A public commitment to revise funding levels based on needs rather than on equality, as soon as the Ministry is able to measure the magnitude of need. With a further commitment to expedite assessments.
- Many states in America have made the treatment, diagnosis, and medication for ASD compulsory under employer and group medical plans. My review of these programs indicate very high satisfaction levels and ought to have been examined as a means to complement the public obligations to support parents.
- Further, there are significant obstacles and undue restrictions, often imposed by the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO) that governs them, that make the accreditation of those therapists qualified to perform diagnosis and assessments. Educational restrictions imposed by the OCRB are contributing to Ontario’s shortage of these professionals, such as academic achievements from British Columbia not being recognized by the Ontario College, as well as the significant amount of time required for Continuing Education Units (CEU) through the Behavioral Analyst Certification Board (BACB).
We need to examine and evaluate whether these regulatory barriers are essential or can be streamlined without compromising quality of care, to a more manageable and reasonable level, and facilitate more professionals to enter the field.
I fail to understand how the Progressive Conservative administration can continue to offer corporate welfare, while suggesting there are insufficient public funds to help those most in need. I was personally taken aback with the recent multi-million dollar freebie to Maple Leaf Foods, then stating the government cannot do more for families- this very much contradicts what conservatism is, by anyone's objective measure.
I have enclosed a copy of my 2008 report to then Minister Madeleine Meilleur for your consideration, to assist you in identifying some of the persistent problems that remain.
I am happy to make myself available to you to discuss this report, as well as some of the concerns I am hearing from my constituents on “next steps” that could be taken as we work towards eliminating barriers to care.
On a final note, I find it deeply disturbing that most all jurisdictions in North America have advanced public policy on ASD without the partisan controversies that appear to be unique to Ontario. Public policy on ASD ought not be viewed in or through any partisan lens, let alone used for political gain. Let’s forget partisanship and just help those families to the best of our abilities as elected representatives.