I had some great conversations with parents of autistic children and adults today as they protested outside the office of Lucie Charlebois, the provincial Minister of Public Health.
Many autistic people in Québec are not receiving adequate services from the provincial government. This afternoon I heard many stories of parents’ struggling to get access to basic services such as speech therapy, properly equipped group homes and basic medical care.
There is also a major lack of services for programs that seek to integrate autistic people into communities and the workforce. For example, the requirement of a high school diploma for basic trade school courses can be a huge barrier to people who could be excelling in the workforce. As à mother put it this afternoon; autistic people are capable of doing a lot more than just sorting recycling.
Although severe underfunding is the underlining factor, there is also a lot of work to be done in order to ensure that the system meets the needs of autistic people, their families and communities. Over the coming weeks the Green Party of Québec will be working on writing the basics of a new autism strategy for the province that will appear in our election platform.
Parents should not have to protest outside the minister’s office in order to receive basic services for their children. This is the new reality following four years of deep cuts and austerity under the Couillard government.
We simply cannot allow the status quo to continue. The Green Party of Québec stands in solidarity with autistic people and their families.
Leader of the Green Party of Québec