MacLeod facing backlash from parents, NDP for autism treatment comments
Published Thursday, February 21, 2019 6:54PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 21, 2019 7:29PM EST
Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod is facing criticism for suggesting that parents could purchase iPads for children with autism.
The comment was made during an interview with CTV News Toronto on Thursday, when MacLeod was asked for an example of what type of therapy could be provided for a child over the age of five with $5,000 in funding.
“We even heard the NDP say that technological aid in an iPad was assisting,” MacLeod explained.
“So, we’re going to give parents the opportunity to make that decision.”
The Progressive Conservative government’s new $321 million autism funding program will be age-tested and include yearly limits.
Children under the age of six will be eligible for a maximum of $20,000 per year, while children six and above will only qualify for $5,000 per year.
Parents say intensive therapy costs can run as high as $80,000 a year.
“That is unbelievable,” said Brandi Tapp, whose 5-year old son Henry is on the autism spectrum.
“An iPad is not what is needed here. Science based therapy is what’s needed here.”
MacLeod also faced questions inside the legislature from Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath who said she felt “disgusted” over the new funding plan.
“Last night on CTV News, the minister responded by suggesting that they could use the woefully inadequate government support to buy an iPad. Is that the Ford government’s idea of a treatment plan, an iPad?” Horwath asked.
Macleod, who calls it an emotional and difficult file, was unapologetic.
“Our plan is built on choice, and if parents think that a technological aid will help advance their child, then I want to support them in doing that.” MacLeod said.
Parents followed MacLeod from the legislature to a government office, where the minister agreed to meet with them to hear their concerns over the new plan.
However, MacLeod indicated that while the decision was “difficult,” it is final.