CORNWALL, Ontario – The Cornwall District Labour Council (CDLC) organized a soapbox protest outside of Progressive Conservative MPP Jim McDonell’s office in Cornwall on Wednesday, May 1.
The protesters were opposed to cuts made by Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government to healthcare and education.
Two mothers of children with autism were at the protest and are in opposition to the government’s reforms to the Provincial Autism Fund.
One mother, Krista Ryan, explained that the cuts the Ford government has proposed will affect everyone.
“It is all connected, so if it fails, it affects everyone’s kids,” she said. “We support the teachers and the healthcare workers.”
Ryan explained one local instance where she claimed that a mother was asked to pick up their autistic child from school because the school “needed a break”; this problem is one that Ryan fears will get worse with the changes proposed by the Ford government.
The changes initially proposed by the Ford Government would have seen children receive funding up until the age of 18 for programs such as therapy. The amount distributed through the budget will depend on the length of time the child is in the program up to $140,000. The funding may also be subject to an annual maximum of $20,000 for children under five and $6,000 for children ages six to 18. Critics suggest that intensive therapy can cost parents up to $80,000 per year.
According to the government, the move was made to reduce the programs waitlist of 23,000 children, however, some parents feel that this strategy while giving each family something, would not give many what they truly need.
Ryan and Cathy Varrette, another mother of a child with autism had come to McDonell’s office in March to speak with the MPP about the changes to the program, but both say that they have yet to be contacted by McDonell.
Varrette was one of the persons to take to the soapbox during the Wednesday protest.
CDLC President Louise Lanctot said that the soapbox was open to anyone who felt they were negatively affected by changes being made by the Ford government.
“We hear that no one at the ground roots will be affected by these changes, that it is only upper management, but that’s not true,” she said.
Another protest has been scheduled to take place in front of the MPP’s office on May 10 at 4 p.m.