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.
On February 9th, 2019 MPP Randy Hillier facilitated a round table in Perth with local volunteer fire chiefs, reeves and mayors to discuss the challenges they face with volunteer recruitment and retention. You can read a summary of the round table, including
proposed recommendations in PDF linked here.
Thank you to the following fire departments and local officials who took part in the discussion:
Darcy Knott, Fire Chief, South Frontenac
Casey Cuddy, Fire Chief, Addington Highlands
Eric Korhonen, Fire Chief, North Frontenac
Ron Closs, Councillor, Lanark Highlands
Greg Saunders, Fire Chief, Drummond/North Elmsley Tay Valley
Brian Campbell, Reeve, Tay Valley Township
Scott Granahan, Fire Chief, Mississippi Mills
Pascal Meunier, Fire Chief, Carleton Place
Christa Lowry, Mayor, Mississippi Mills
Doug Black, Mayor, Carleton Place
Pat Publow, Deputy Chief, Perth
Greg Robinson, Fire Chief, Central Frontenac
Ron Higgins, Mayor, North Frontenac
Since being first elected almost 12 years ago I've had the privilege and responsibility to meet with, and advocate for, the many families in my riding whose children face developmental challenges.
A product of this responsibility was a letter and document I drafted in 2008 titled "Being Mindful of Intellectual Disabilities", which I subsequently hand delivered to the Minister of Community and Social Services. Many of the problems I identified in that document still exist today. You can read the archived copy here: Letter - Being Mindful of Intellectual Disabilities
As part of my ongoing commitments, and in more recent news, I want to say a big thank you to Amanda, Dennis, and Mona, all parents of children with autism, for meeting with me last Friday to help me stay updated on this ever evolving topic, and the issues effecting them.
I have always stood firm in my belief that being a strong advocate and representative means staying continuously informed of not just the benefits, but also the drawbacks of proposed and existing public policy.
On Wednesday I presented to the Lanark County Council the findings of a recent Auditor General's report on Conservation Authorities. I provided insight in to the current state of CAs provincially as well as future changes and consultiation. You can watch a recording of my presentation to council in the attached video. You can view the accompanying slideshow above or at this link here.
I’m inviting everyone to my Annual Christmas Hootenanny this Sunday, December 16th at the Grand Hotel from 2-4pm PM in Carleton Place. Join us for some great holiday music with the Bows Brothers where we will serve up some festive treats, take a little time to wish each other well and toast the holiday season! Please RSVP HERE if you plan on attending so we can ensure we have enough food for everyone. Hope to see you there!
Our conservation authorities are ineffective, unaccountable, and constantly expanding beyond their mandate. My office has dealt with numerous issues with CA's providing false technical advice to constituents, major delays in service, and gross misinterpretations of statutory authority, particularly with the Rideau Valley and Mississippi Valley Conservation Authorities.
I have been in contact with the Minister of the Environment to express my concerns and to highlight specific failings and solutions. You can read my letter in full below.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 15th, 2018
(QUEEN’S PARK) Ontario’s Government for the People is putting more money back in people’s pockets in Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston by introducing one of the most generous tax cuts for low-income workers in a generation – the Low-Income Individuals and Families Tax Credit (LIFT).
Those who earn $30,000 or less would pay zero personal income tax on their 2019 tax returns. It represents up to $850 per person and up to $1,700 per couple in savings.
“This tax cut will leave more money in the pockets of families and taxpayers,” said Hillier. “I’m proud to be part of a government that is putting people, not the government, at the heart of their fiscal plans.”
The Government’s Fall Economic Statement laid out the government's economic plans which have already included $3.2 billion in savings from efficiencies which paved the way for $2.7 billion in tax savings for people and businesses throughout the province. This also allowed the government to shave down the deficit by $500 million, putting the province back on track to fiscal health.
“The future's looking brighter than ever, we are cutting costs without reducing front-line service jobs, addressing the deficit and debt while supporting job growth in high paying industries such as the skilled trades,” explained Hillier.
“We’re bringing back the prosperous Ontario we all know and love, and it’s clear to everyone that Ontario is open for business,” proclaimed Hillier.
Contact: Perth Office 613-267- 8239
Queen’s Park 416-325- 2244
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 24th, 2018
(QUEEN’S PARK) The Ontario Government has unveiled a bill which, if passed, will take much-needed steps to help Ontario businesses stay competitive and boost their ability to create more, better-paying jobs. Many of the changes the government outlined can be traced back to a number of MPP Hillier’s Private Members Bills introduced in previous sessions as well as his 2011 White Paper on labour reforms. These include ending card based certification for industries captured in the previous government’s legislation, enabling 1:1 ratios for all apprenticeship positions, and restoring secret ballots for union certifications.
"This has been long overdue, I have been advocating for these changes for a number of years now, and it's great to finally have a government that understands and cares about young people entering the skilled trades," said Hillier. "A number of these changes have long been sought after by both employers and those seeking to enter into the trades,” explained Hillier.
The bill aims to reduce red-tape for all businesses, but has a specific set of reforms aimed at the skilled trades. Many in the industry have been raising the alarm over the lack of new apprentice entering into the skilled trades and how this widening skills gap is keeping Ontario from meeting its economic potential. The bill will now allow for a greater number of apprenticeship positions to open up in shops across the province, providing additional opportunities for women and men across Ontario to gain lifelong, meaningful employment.
Along with giving the skilled trades a much-needed boost, this bill will reverse a raft of hastily thrown together changes the previous government enacted that many in the industry saw as a last-ditch election effort. "I spoke with the different Chambers of Commerce and many businesses throughout my riding when the previous government rolled out their reforms and many admitted they would have to cut jobs just to stay afloat," Hillier explained. "These changes will help businesses stay competitive so they can thrive and create more, better-paying jobs," said Hillier.
“These efforts will help us address the skills gap in the trades, provide a steady supply of good paying jobs and supply employers with a great pool of talented skilled workers to choose from; this is a win for all involved.”
You can view the full bill, including changes to the minimum wage and vacation enhancements, here once published by the Legislature.
Contact: Perth Office 613-267- 8239
Queen’s Park 416-325- 2244