At a Queen’s Park rally, the president of Ontario’s largest union today joined with parents in calling on the province to stop cuts that are hurting children with autism.

Two women and one man hold autism activism signs at a protest

“We’re here today to call on Kathleen Wynne and the Liberal government to provide adequate funding for Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI). We cannot allow one more child to fall through the holes this government is creating in our social safety net because of their slavish devotion to austerity,” said Fred Hahn, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario.

On March 29, Minister of Children and Youth Services, Tracey MacCharles, announced the Wynne Government’s new Ontario Autism Program, intended to reduce wait times for intensive therapy by making anyone over the age of 4 ineligible for Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI). Children living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) tend to be diagnosed at four years of age, which means the majority will never be eligible under the new regime.

“This is devastating for the 30,000 families with children who have ASD diagnoses,” said Terri Preston, chair of CUPE Ontario’s School Boards Coordinating Committee. “It comes at a time when we are already seeing massive cuts to supports in schools, including hundreds of Educational Assistant positions being eliminated. How are we supposed to build a better Ontario when so many children with ASD, developmental disabilities and learning disabilities are being abandoned by the province?”

CUPE Ontario is calling on the Liberals to provide adequate funding for IBI, and for a full public review of the education funding formula to ensure all students are given the support they need to succeed in school and in life.

CUPE is Ontario’s community union, with more than 250,000 members providing quality public services we all rely on, in every part of the province, every day. CUPE Ontario members are proud to work in social services, health care, municipalities, school boards, universities and airlines.

For more information, please contact:

Craig Saunders
CUPE Communications