Our family was one of the first to be contacted by Minister MacLeod’s staff to engage in a preliminary consultation process with her Ministry. Our family has since rescinded that invitation as a result of discriminatory and unorganized policy coming from MacLeod’s office and most recently from the Premier Ford himself. Our family believes that unless there is a 180 degree turn on the use of age caps, and new leadership is presented on the autism file, that any consultations will be a waste of our time. Time better spent on taking care of our severely autistic son. The below was sent to our contact within Macleod’s Ministry office explaining in detail why our family will not take part in these consultations going forward:
The Government of Ontario has now upended and rebuilt the autism system of supports twice in less than 3 years. This has added an abundance amount of stress on caregivers, and children including mine. Stress that has manifested itself in now chronic health conditions to which I now suffer. Simply put, I’m not sure anything I say will change the level of understanding needed to ensure that families in the future are not burdened with the extra work load and stress in dealing with policy makers who don’t understand (or take the time to) what’s taking place on the ground after years of consultation, and are making policy decisions that do not reflect any understanding of the amount of stress and work we are already engaged in when caring for kids and adults with challenges. Unfortunately this lack of understanding still reins pretty high up the chain right up to the premier’s office on a recent phone call with a parent of two kids on the spectrum and I cannot commit to working with the Ministry or this government under such ignorance that was recently displayed by Premier Ford himself:
Minister MacLeod and her staff over the past several weeks have made extremely derogatory comments against families who are under a tremendous amount of stress, along with those who are supporting them. The information I handed to Ms. Mulroney was for all purposes my family’s legal position. I have not seen any of the recommendations from this presentation implemented. There has been a tremendous lack of information from the Ministry on announced changes which is adding to the stress of not being able to plan ahead. This includes a lack of information on SSAH. During my presentation to Ms. Mulroney, I’ve recommended that any further consultations be transparent. I have not seen any willingness to provide any transparency on these consultations. The government has also refused to walk back on its discriminatory age caps.
I filed a “Notice of Intent” with Mr. Colin Aitchison about 1 ½ weeks ago giving the government until April 1st to implement my recommendations, and revert back to the old OAP while we work collaboratively on reducing the wait lists. This was to limit the liability currently on government for freezing the wait lists due to discriminatory policy. The fact that the Ministry is sending me a junior policy advisor barely out of diapers, rather than dealing with the governments lawyers – since a vast majority of the work ahead will be on ensuring the government stops discriminating against our most vulnerable and their families, and ensuring the government is properly accommodating individuals with disabilities – is telling in itself.
With the amount of consultations that have been done previously, if the Government of Ontario simply can’t get what it’s doing to families and vulnerable children when you up end the autism support regime, than maybe it’s time a Superior Court Justice weighs in on that, rather than wasting everyone’s time going through consultations that will not likely yield balanced policy as a result of continued ignorance.
Should the Ministry in the near future find itself under new leadership with the goal of ensuring policy is non-discriminatory, you may contact me again and I’d be more than happy to provide further input as an expert analyst in complex systems and as a user of the system. Until then what I have to say, needs to be said in front of a judge to ensure an expert amount of care is given when dealing with policy changes surrounding our most vulnerable. I quite simply trust our judiciary more than I trust The Government of Ontario at present, especially after the linked call with Ford above.