Jul 30, 2019
This is a special edition of On The Ledge – the Ontario Politics Podcast. In this episode, we highlight the latest developments in the Ontario Autism Plan.
For those of you who’ve been listening to the podcast for a while you will know that the autism file has been one of the most difficult for both the previous Liberal government and the current Progressive Conservatives.
Candidate Doug Ford made the campaign promise to take care of all the Autism families on Ontario. He told them they would never have to protest at Queen’s Park. That didn’t happen.
Premier Ford’s new government roared into office in June 2018 and proceeded to alienate the families, telling them it was going to be a long four years if they didn’t support the new means- based funding program.
The promise was a failure. The plan was a failure. The communications strategy was a failure.
The Autism families didn’t just protest on the lawns of Queen’s Park, they took their demonstrations into the vistors’ gallery of the legislature. Minister of Children, Community and Social Service Lisa MacLeod was belligerent with parents. She was eventually replaced by Todd Smith when the Premier rebuilt his cabinet at the end of June.
On Monday, July 29th, 2019 – more than a year after the Ford government was sworn in, Minister Smith not only announced the Ontario Autism Program would revert to a needs-based program, Smith admitted – the Ford government bungled the whole thing from the very beginning.
I had the opportunity to host the Newstalk 1010 Morning Show in Toronto that week and we talked to Autism parents and advocates about the new plan. Minister Smith also joined us by phone to answer questions.