Queen’s Park staffer resigns over Ford government’s autism plan
A Queen’s Park political staffer has resigned in protest over the Ford government’s autism overhaul, saying he could not “defend the indefensible.”
Bruce McIntosh, the former president of the Ontario Autism Coalition, worked as the Legislative Assistant to PC MPP Amy Fee until his resignation today.
McIntosh says over the past few months he tried to offer his input to help shape the policy, hoping the government would take advantage of his years of experience as an advocate.
“I thought of myself as a bit of an asset,” McIntosh told CTV News Toronto, explaining that his son lives with autism.
However, McIntosh says, while he offered his advice to multiple people in the Minister of Children, Lisa MacLeod’s office and the Premier’s Office, he felt that “it wasn’t wanted.”
McIntosh believes the policy announced today will cause an “enormous problem” for parents and could leave some families in a crisis state once limited government funding dries up.
MacLeod announced today that parents would be given a maximum of $140,000, from the time of diagnosis until the age of 18, to be spent on a range of services at the family’s discretion.
McIntosh says the money could be spent in two years if the child need intensive therapy, which can often cost up to $80,000 per year, leaving families without any funding for crucial treatment when children get to their teenage years.
McIntosh says he “raised his concerns” with Fee but wouldn’t say whether she agreed with his assessment.
Fee is the parliamentary assistant to MacLeod and a mother of two children with autism.
Officials in the Premier’s Office say the government met with a number of different organizations including the Ontario Autism Coalition, Autism Ontario and service providers. Fee also held a series of provincial roundtables allowing parents to give their input.
MacLeod’s chief of staff Timothy Porter also noted on Twitter that the Progressive Conservative plan “satisfies” 14 of the 19 demands made by the Autism Coalition, which McIntosh co-founded.
“As for Bruce McIntosh - he was informed he could resign in December,” Porter tweeted.
At the announcement today at the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehab Clinic, McIntosh was present with his resignation paper in hand.
“I told her that as a result of what was announced today that I didn’t feel that I could continue in that capacity of working for her,” McIntosh said.
“I wasn’t prepared to defend the indefensible.”
McIntosh's full resignation below: