January 28, 2015 6:54 pm
Updated: January 28, 2015 7:09 pm

English-speaking families forced to wait for services for their disabled children


BEACONSFIELD – 5-year-old Tye is non-verbal. His biggest challenge is expressing his needs. According to his specialized educator, Tye has come a long way since she first started working with him in September.

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“Right now he’s actually learning how to write and read which is really great, because I don’t think even his parents thought it would be this early. But it’s really good he’s doing a great job, he has a lot of interest in it too,” said Tasha Moussayan, a specialized educator at the West Montreal Readaptation Centre.

Children with developmental delays do much better with early intervention and educators see it first hand.

“When they come in they can’t do a lot of things like other children can but over time, with the right interventions, and the right stimulation, they’re able to do a lot and it’s actually really rewarding to see that change and development,” said Heather Sutherland, specialized educator.

The problem is that there are 250 families currently on the waiting list for these essential services and this comes after waiting on average two years for the initial diagnosis.

“When you’re talking about neuro-developmental disorders and you want to get to the brain and help the child as quickly as possible, those delays have a significant impact on the prognosis and the outcomes,” said Dr. Katherine Moxness, Executive Director of the West Montreal Readaptation Centre, who worries that wait time will get worse.

“When we become amalgamated under a larger health establishment we’re going to have to make a very concerted and consolidated effort to make sure that autism and intellectual disabilities has a place and that we don’t move backwards,” insisted Dr. Moxness.

READ MORE: Quebec’s health minister table Bill 10 amendments

On Tuesday, Global News told the story of a family in St-Lazare who has been waiting eight years to get the services they were promised from their local CLSC.

Administrators at the CSSS Vaudreuil-Soulanges admit that 85 per cent of their disabled clients are currently waiting for more services.

The minister responsible for the region and for social services insists she’s now looking into the file.

“We’re trying to have some information, we’ve called the agency to know what’s going on with that and we’re going to ask some question,” said Lucie Charlebois.

But many parents are calling on politicians, including the health minister, to get a clearer picture of the problem.

“What would I tell him? Come spend a day in my shoes and remind him why all of these programs and budgets were made,” said Ann Gagnon.

“There was a logic somewhere where someone said you know what we have to help those people out!”

Administrators are quite concerned that come April, the province’s plan to restructure the health care system will hurt the most vulnerable in Quebec’s English-speaking community.

“It’s just simply a lack of funding to be able to answer to the needs,” said Dr. Moxness, adding, “We’re more reassured that Dr Barrette has said that our sector will be bilingual but we have to see it on paper cause if he’s not there and we have a new minister, do we have the protections?”

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