PEI

Sidney MacEwen calls for provincial autism secretariat

PC MLA Sidney MacEwen is calling on the P.E.I. government to create an autism secretariat.

PC MLA says services and supports for people with autism are split among several provincial departments

PC MLA Sidney MacEwen tabled a private member's bill to create an autism secretariat. (Al MacCormick/CBC)

PC MLA Sidney MacEwen is calling on the P.E.I. government to create an autism secretariat.

He would like to see a single cabinet minister responsible for overseeing all government services and supports for Islanders with autism spectrum disorder.

"I often hear from groups that say, 'We've gotta lobby four different ministers for one thing,'" MacEwen said.

'It's disjointed' 

On Thursday MacEwen tabled a private member's bill to create an autism secretariat. The bill has not yet been called for debate. 

While we value that support, it's not offered in a co-ordinated fashion.- Peter Rukavina, parent

He said the idea is not to create more bureaucracy, but rather bring the programs that already exist "under one roof." 

"We've got a lot of people doing a lot of good things for autism in P.E.I., and throughout government, but it's disjointed. It's all across a number of departments. And so what this aims to do is bring that all together under the responsibility of one minister."

Addressing lack of co-ordination

Peter Rukavina's son has autism, and he thinks the establishment of an autism secretariat would be useful. 

"Our son Oliver receives support from a variety of government departments and agencies, and while we value that support, it's not offered in a co-ordinated fashion," said Rukavina in an email.

Rukavina said it wasn't until several years after Oliver was diagnosed with autism that he learned he was eligible for disability support funding. 

"This wasn't due to malice on anyone's part, it was simply that everyone thought we knew," Rukavina said. 

He hopes establishing cabinet-level responsibility for autism services would be a step toward making things more co-ordinated. 

More P.E.I. news

With files from Kerry Campbell

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