“Your government seems to have no sympathy or understanding for the incredible strain that it (autism) puts these families under, both emotionally and financially.” – Niagara Centre MPP Jeff Burch, in an Open Letter to Ontario Minister of Children, Community and Social Services Todd Smith
An Open Letter from Niagara Centre’s NDP MPP Jeff Burch, with Foreword and Afterword Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter Doug Draper
Posted January 9th, 2020 on Niagara At Large
Foreword by Doug Draper
Since taking the oath of office in June 2018, Ontario Premier Doug Ford has repeatedly boasted that he was going to run a “government for the people.”
Indeed, Ford has used the mantra “for the people” so often in front of the word “party” or “government,” that you almost have to be reminded that it is the old “Progressive Conservative Party” and it is a “Progressive Conservative Government” that is very light on the “Progressive,” that he is actually talking about.
And exactly what “people” Ford is talking about when he brags about running a “government for the people” continues to be a subject of debate.
It certainly doesn’t seem to include adults and children struggling to get the assistance they need to deal with a diagnosis of autism in their families, and make sure there is adequate and reliable coverage for the therapy a diagnosed child requires to live a happy and productive life.
For most of the past 12 months Ford’s Conservatives – his so-called “government for the people” – have been in power in Ontario, all families living with autism in their family have been getting is stories about cuts and changes to programs to help people with autism, as if with this issue, like so many others, Ford’s Tories never really had a coherent plan to begin with.
Joe Serianni of Welland and his four-year-old son Ashton, who was diagnosed a year ago with autism. Like thousands of other families across Ontario, the Serrianni family is still waiting for funding assistance from the province for urgently-need therapy for addressing the developmental challenge.
One of the many thousands of families across Ontario facing this government-manufactured mess is the Serianni family in Welland who have a four-year-old son Ashton, who was diagnosed with autism close to a year ago when he was still three, and has been receiving therapy at Bethesda Services, an agency in neighbouring Thorold that provides therapeutic services to children and adults with developmental challenges.
According to Ashton’s dad, Joe, the services Bethesda is providing have been very helpful, but the problem for the Serianni family, like so many others across the province, is this.
The Seriannis have so far been paying out of their own pockets – as much as they say they now can – for Ashton’s therapy, and almost a year after he was diagnosed and began his therapy sessions, they still haven’t received a single penny of assistance from Ford’s ‘government for the people’. Continue reading