CORNWALL, Ontario – A Cornwall man was front and centre Monday at a Toronto rally to protest cuts to autism funding in Ontario.
Local Internet radio personality Alain Legault spoke at the rally Monday at Queen’s Park as protesters once again called out the provincial government for terminating intensive therapy for autistic children after age five.
“It doesn’t stop at age five,” said Legault, a father of three including a son who is on the autism spectrum. “The message is very simple.”
Critics have said the termination of Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) therapy for those aged five and above will make it more difficult to help children early.
A previous rally in Toronto saw about 300 attend, said Legault.
“I was impressed and unimpressed. Impressed that the opposition fought for our cause realtors hard and strategically. Was unimpressed with how the current government refuses to answer direct questions,” he said of his time in Toronto. “After the rally, we learned that the City of Hamilton decided to take funds from their budget and pay Hamilton families IBI therapy until theLliberal government reverses their decision.”
Legault said fathers can especially feel the effects of raising an autistic child.
“When people see you in the grocery store, and your child is having (an episode)…you will hear people ask ‘Where’s the mother?'” said Legault, who hosts The Dad Show on dunet.ca.
Local support for reversing the government decision has been growing. Dominique Chabot-Payment, the mother of two young boys in the spectrum, ridiculed the government’s offer to families seeking the money to hire a therapist. She said a typical therapist charges an average of about $40 an hour to treat a child.
At that rate the $8,000 from the province can be used up in a matter of weeks – leaving families to cover the balance on their own.
“It works out to about six weeks of IBI – not enough,” she said.
Recently the provincial Liberals voted against a Progressive-Conservative motion to reinstate the life-changing autism therapy for children over the age of five.
Legault joined members of the Opposition parties at Queen’s Park in speaking at the Monday rally.
“My son has been affected by this decision from the Liberal government and many more,” he said.