Rally to protest provincial changes for autism therapy to take place in Sudbury

A Sudbury father says recent changes to funding for autism therapy in Ontario are creating more stress for families.
Protests have taken place across the province against the PC's plan for autism treatment, like this one in Windsor. On Friday, one will take place in Sudbury. (Mrinali Anchan/CBC)

A Sudbury father says recent changes to funding for autism therapy in Ontario are creating more stress for families.

Last week, Ontario's minister of social services, Lisa MacLeod, announced the changes to clear a backlog of 23,000 children currently waiting for publicly funded therapy.

Families will get up to $20,000 a year, with a limit of $140,000 for kids who begin treatment before age six.

However, that funding will be subject to annual caps that families and advocates say will fall short of what's needed for intensive therapy.

Sean Staddon's daughter is turning four in April. She was diagnosed with moderate to severe autism in the fall of 2017.

Since then, Staddon says she's been on a waitlist for funded treatment.

"We've started advocating and working with our government partners since then," he said.

"As someone who is on the waitlist … I'm someone who is definitely opposed to it and I can't believe what it's going to put families through."

Age limit is 'ludicrous'

Staddon says a major concern is the cap on funding for therapy that's being put in place by the province.

"My daughter is going to require somewhere around $50,000 to $60,000 [in treatment annually] to get her school ready," he said.

"So to put an arbitrary number that all of us parents know is too low, to put an age limit is just kind of ludicrous."

Staddon says he also has concerns for families in rural parts of Ontario.

"A child in communities like Gogama, Chapleau or Terrace Bay would have to find their way to a city centre [for therapy]," he said.

"This hasn't been addressed at all by the Ontario government."

Staddon is planning a rally to take place in Sudbury on Friday. It will take place outside MPP Jamie West's office at 3 p.m.

With files from Angela Gemmill


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