Mother of child with autism says Liberal MPP's initial apology 'not from the heart'
Published Wednesday, May 25, 2016 3:50PM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, May 25, 2016 6:27PM EDT
A mother of a child with autism said a Liberal MPP’s initial apology was “not from the heart” after the police were called on her for threatening a protest at his office.
Bob Delaney, a Liberal backbench MPP, said the police were called after Melanie Palaypayon “frequently” called his constituency office and threatened to protest the government’s new autism program by handing out flyers outside his office.
Peel Regional Police ultimately visited Palaypayon at her home.
Palaypayon and her 6-year-old son Xavier have been waiting for more than three years for Xavier to receive Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) therapy, an advanced behavioural therapy method for children with autism.
When the Liberal government decided to change regulations surrounding autism services, Intensive Behavioural Intervention was defunded for children with autism who are five years old or older.
Despite being on the waiting list for three years, Xavier was removed from the list for IBI this spring.
“Nobody has signed up for this,” Palaypayon told CTV Toronto. “For me, if I’m going back six and a half years, I’m still going to choose Xavier. He is my son and I love him so much.”
On Tuesday, Premier Kathleen Wynne ordered Delaney to apologize for the incident.
Later that afternoon, Delaney released a statement directed at Palaypayon. Delaney apologized for the incident and invited her to visit him at his office to discuss her concerns.
“I understand the concerns raised by Mrs. Palaypayon. I am profoundly sorry for the set of circumstances that resulted in the Peel Police visiting her home, and for the anxiety caused to her and her family,” Delaney said in the statement. “As an MPP, I understand how important it is to listen to the concerns of my constituents.”
Palaypayon, while grateful for the apology, told the Canadian Press the statement is “not from the heart.”
“He knows my number, he can call me,” Palaypayon told the Canadian Press. “I don’t want to seem negative, but if he’s really sincere with this apology he should have not waited for Kathleen Wynne to tell him to say an apology.”
It wasn't until late Thursday afternoon -- five days after police were called -- that Palaypayon received an apology from Delaney personally. According to Delaney, he and Palaypayon have agreed to meet in person to discuss her concerns.
Palaypayon said she was only trying to meet with Delaney, who represents her Mississauaga-Streetsville riding, to explain the hardships the newly announced Ontario Autism Program has caused her family.
The new program, which is expected to be instated in full by 2018, will amalgamate IBI and Applied Behaviour Analysis therapies into a new service called ABA. The government is expected to give parents of children removed from the IBI wait list $8,000 to fund private treatment, but parents have said that isn’t enough.
According to the government, the new program will allow 16,000 more children to receive services and will cut IBI wait times dramatically.
With files from The Canadian Press.