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"Take care of our children": Protesters demanding a national autism strategy



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Something & # 39; and in Ottawa marched from Barrhaven to Parliament Hill Sunday to put pressure on federal politicians to launch a national strategy for autism.

The protesters, many come from across Ontario, departed from Fallowfield Road at 8:30 am and arrived at Parliament Hill – in the 20-kilometer walk – five hours later.

Michelle Tsedeno came to Ottawa from Toronto to rally. Her four-year-old son, Antonio lives with autism.

"The province has changed its strategy every four years, it seems like the parents … tired of fighting. We stand for the best for our children, "Cedeno said.

"In 2016 there was a struggle … and now it's happening again. And you know what? It's time for the feds to step and just take care of our children. They deserve it. "

Michelle Tsedeno has a large sign with the face of her four-year-old son, Antonio, who has autism. She says that parents are tired of having to fight for the support of autism, when the government changed. (Krystalle Ram Lakhan / PLG)

Provincial pleading fall "on deaf ears"

march on Sunday began in Lisa's office McLeod, Ontario Minister for ahildren, public and social services.

It was organized by parents Barrhaven asking the federal government to standardize based on the needs of the autism services throughout Canada.

The rally follows a series of protests by the Ontario provincial government against the changes in the program of Autism Ontario. Earlier this weekend, the parents of children with autism also hit the streets Hawkesbury, Ont., To test the changes, which come into force on Monday.

"We are asking the provincial government to suspend the plan, and it happens on deaf ears," said Nicole Taylor, which was held in Ottawa on Sunday.

She said that her eight-year-old son Paul on the autism spectrum.

"Children do not deserve it, and there are many children who have been [receiving therapy], For them to lose this service can not be a regression, "Taylor said.

Mandy Stapley visited Napanee, Ottawa, Ont., To join the march on Sunday. (Krystalle Ram Lakhan / PLG)

Mandy Stapley traveled from Napanee, Ont., In the Parliament Hill for her five-year-old son, Hank, who lives with autism.

"It would be nice to have something in place so that we do not have to go through this every four years, and worry about our children's needs, if a new government comes into place. It would be great if we could have a long-term plan, "said Stapley.

"The birth of a child with autism or any special need, you're worried about your future enough. You really do not want to worry about what services will be available. "

The changes are designed to reduce the waiting time

In February, the Progressive Conservative government of Ontario announced its plan to address autism therapy queue, transferring funds directly to parents to subsidize the treatment program.

Under the new program, seven & # 39; and children under the age of six years who have autism will receive up to $ 20 000 per year for support, while children over the age of six years will be eligible for $ 5,000, until they are 18 years old.

After six weeks of constant pressure from parents and lawyers, however, MacLeod announced changes to the plans of the government last week. testing revenues will be eliminated, MacLeod He said, and more services – like speech and occupational therapy – will be available.

McLeod said it will also explore how best to provide additional support based on the needs of children diagnosed with autism.

Funding for the new program Autism Ontario – which will be released in the budget of the government, set to be presented April 11 – may be more than $ 600 million, MacLeod said last week.

Nicole Taylor says that the Ontario government does not listen to parents of children with autism. (Krystalle Ram Lakhan / PLG)

"However, working in silos"

Ontario Senator Jim MunsonWho has called for a national autism strategy for more than a decade ago, also attended the meeting on Sunday.

"Now, we continue to work in the mines," he said Munson.

"In the end, the only thing that will work in this country have a national strategy for autism … Seven & # 39; and with autism deserve, like any family & # 39; and which has another specific health issue."

A number of people spoke to a crowd of hundreds, including in Ottawa Center MPP Joel Hardy, deputy leader of the Green Party AbhijeetManay and Susan Jacobson, founder of the nonprofit QuickStart – a group that supports something & # 39; and children with autism.

According to organizers, at least 600 people participated in the rally.

"It's amazing that it's a lot of people from around Ontario to come and join us for this walk," said organizer Kerry Monaghan.

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