WOODBRIDGE, ON, Aug. 29 /CNW/ - Greg Sorbara, MPP for Vaughan-King-Aurora and the former provincial Minister of Finance, told the mother of an aggressive autistic teenager that she should consider having her son arrested and charged with a criminal offence as a way to access better services for her son.
Mr. Sorbara made the comments to Susan Fentie-Pearce and her husband Ken at a meeting held at his constituency office on Friday, August 27, 2010.
Ms. Fentie-Pearce had contacted Mr. Sorbara, who is her local MPP, in a desperate attempt to get help for her 14 year old son, Keith, who has autism. Her son has become increasingly aggressive in the last several weeks and has attacked her on numerous occasions. She requested the meeting in the hopes that Mr. Sorbara could offer her some assistance.
"What kind of person suggests putting a non-verbal, vulnerable child into the criminal justice system?" Ms. Fentie-Pearce asked after the meeting. "I went to him for help-and this is his best suggestion?!?"
Laura Kirby-McIntosh, who co-founded the Ontario Autism Coalition along with Ms. Fentie-Pearce and others in 2005, also attended the meeting.
"I couldn't believe what I was hearing," said Ms. Kirby-McIntosh. "I was deeply offended, not to mention shocked. This man is a former Minister of Finance. He has the ear of the Premier. Are we to believe that in 2010, in Dalton McGuinty's Ontario, that this is really the best we can do?"
The Ontario Autism Coalition has been advocating on behalf of families since 2005 and in June of this year submitted a lengthy list of recommendations to the government on how to better serve those living with autism in the province. The Government has yet to respond to the report.
Despite years of protesting, lobbying and advocating for their children, families still face long waitlists for treatment, unfair cutoffs, inadequate services in schools, and an absolute lack of crisis services. Sorbara's comments are being received as a slap in the face within the autism community, and a Facebook group has already attracted numerous members.
SOURCE ONTARIO AUTISM COALITION
For further information: For further information: Susan Fentie-Pearce at 416-795-9829 or Laura Kirby-McIntosh at 416-315-7939; On the web, you can visit: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=135031883208067&ref=mf and/or www.ontarioautismcoalition.com