Mar. 22 Update: Who is the Minister on this file?
We had a big announcement yesterday — if you missed it, here’s my take.
I’ve decided not to do a full update until the Government releases more information. On the Ontario Autism Program website, we have this line at the very top:
On March 21, the government announced it is enhancing the Ontario Autism Program. Our website will be updated soon to provide additional information.
I expect the government to bury all kinds of new information in there, so will be watching closely.
Three things to keep in mind
- Nobody really knows much of anything right now. Including me. Parents understandably have all kinds of questions. In an attempt to be helpful, other parents, service providers, etc. have been working on providing answers. Too often, though, the information is either out of date, speculative, contradictory or just flat-out wrong. I say this not to call anyone out (again, I think everyone’s motives here are good), but rather to suggest you take anything you read with a big bag of salt, and ask for sources. I try to source anything I write on here, but haven’t been perfect about it, so if I don’t please call me on it.
- Take anything the government says as a negotiating position, not a final policy. The government has shown a clear willingness to change course, so long as you make their lives difficult for a couple months.
- Our negotiating strength is proportional to our ability to keep up the pressure. So let’s keep at it!
Who is the Minister on this file?
We’re seeing more of Tory MP Amy Fee ( Kitchener South — Hespeler) and less of Lisa MacLeod (Nepean) in the media on this file, including an interview this morning on Metro Morning (will post a link when I get it). Yesterday in Question Period, MacLeod was kind enough to give kudos to Fee’s work on this file (twice, in fact), and yesterday Fee met with advocates on this file:
I am genuinely glad Fee is doing these things, but this is an unusually active role for a Parliamentary Assistant. If Fee is going to be the lead on this, she should be given full Ministerial status. If she isn’t, then MacLeod should be doing more of the heavy lifting in consultations and with the media.
We have a new number to remember. 331 million.
Lisa MacLeod dropped this on us in Question Period:
Therefore, we have also expanded our program to $331 million over the last month.
This is news. The government still hasn’t been clear on these figures. In making sense of the millions, I note that they’ve referenced a whole bunch of different numbers (256! 321!). I don’t think there’s anything nefarious going on here, rather it’s just garden-variety incompetence, particularly in the government’s ability to explain anything involving a number.
Lisa MacLeod is not happy with Monique Taylor
Here’s a sample of what Lisa MacLeod had to say yesterday in response to questions from NDP MPP Monique Taylor (Hamilton Mountain):
If the members opposite in the official opposition want to continue to fearmonger and want to continue to create rhetoric that only harms the debate, then they can go ahead and do that, but what they are doing is wrong and what we are doing is right…
Why does that member opposite refuse to support a consultation process that we’re going to have throughout this province to ensure that we can best support children who are the most severe in terms of a needs assessment? Why doesn’t she support any of that? I can tell you why: Because all they want to do is professionally protest and rile parents up, and that is irresponsible.
So let me get this straight: Yesterday the Tories made a bunch of changes to their plan, many of which the NDP were asking for. But MacLeod insists it was the NDP that was wrong, not the Tories, despite the fact that the Tories adopted many of the NDP’s proposals.
I’m sure there’s a planet out there where that logic makes sense, but it’s not the Earth.
That’s it for today. Have a great weekend!
From the Ontario Government
- Program details from the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services.
- Transcripts from Question Period.
- Feb. 6 Press Release: Helping Families by Improving Access to Autism Services.
- Feb. 6 Press Release: Ontario Takes Decisive Action to Help More Families with Autism.
- Feb. 6 Press Release: Electronic Press Kit Now Available: Ontario Takes Decisive Action to Help More Families with Autism.
- Feb. 7 Press Release: New Ontario Autism Program Draws Support From Across the Province.
- Mar. 11 Press Release: Ontario Continues to Support Students with Autism.
- Mar. 22 Press Release: Ontario Enhancing Support for Children with Autism.