OSHAWA - The Ford government must stop disregarding the concerns of Durham parents and families of children with autism and provide them with answers now, said NDP MPP Jennifer French (Oshawa) and Teresa Armstrong, the Official Opposition critic for Children and Youth Services, in the following open letter to newly appointed Minister Fullerton.
French and Armstrong included 14 questions from Durham families that the Ford government dismissed with a photocopied standard response that failed to address their concerns.
July 28, 2021
Hon. Minister Merrilee Fullerton
Ministry of Children, Community and Social Service
7th Floor, 438 University Ave.,
Toronto, ON M5G 2K8
Congratulations on your new role as Minister. As engaged MPPs, it has been our privilege to work with families of children with autism over many years. We have walked alongside families as they have done their best to navigate program changes, uncertainty, and heartache as they are doing their best to ensure that their children can have needs-based support and hopeful futures. It has been a tumultuous journey and it is incomprehensible that these families still do not have answers, hope, or a clear path forward.
Parents of children with autism in the Province of Ontario have been forced – out of necessity – to become advocates and activists on behalf of their children. The “Durham Crew” is a committed group of community families advocating for necessary supports and needs-based therapy. Regularly, we hear from families with questions and concerns - especially since your Ministry’s announcement of the Ontario Autism Pilot Project. We were glad to submit fourteen separate, thoughtful, and important questions to your Ministry, on behalf of the Durham Crew and interested parents.
Written Questions numbers 281 to 294 on the Order Paper have all received Ministry Responses. However, it is disheartening and unacceptable that fourteen specific and distinct questions all received a verbatim standard response. This evidently generic and dismissive response is not a sufficient or appropriate answer to MPPs who are seeking clarity from the Provincial Government, on behalf of constituents. It is disappointing that parents and families have also been receiving this stock and dismissive response from this Ministry.
We are dismayed to conclude that either the specific answers do not exist, or your Ministry does not feel that parents deserve them. Please find attached a list of the written questions and the only provided answer. We would appreciate the information requested initially. We are happy to discuss this at your earliest convenience.
Premier of Ontario, Doug Ford