Charlotte Kuhn, a five-year-old girl living with autism, and her family have received an outpouring of support in response to their call for help last week.
Their GoFundMe campaign has collected more than $5,000, which means they can finally pay for six months of private speech therapy for Charlotte. The girl has been waiting for years to gain access to specialized health services through the province of Quebec.
Autism Montreal is now calling for a class action lawsuit against the government, and one lawyer is already examining that possibility.
“This is unacceptable that we are not providing this kind of treatment,” lawyer Jean-Pierre Ménard said. “It is a clear infringement of the patient’s rights.”
Ménard already launched a class action lawsuit against the Quebec government over access to services for autistic children back in the year 2000. At the time, the government agreed to inject $32 million into early childhood intervention services, which was enough to withdraw the lawsuit.
The government is currently working on an action plan that’s expected to invest $5 million, which many claim is nothing more than a drop in the bucket.
“We know since several years now that the rate of diagnosis of autism has increased dramatically, it is not something new for the health system. It belongs to the health system to adjust the level of services,” Ménard said.
An estimated one in every 68 individuals is diagnosed with autism. Many have to wait up to two years for a diagnosis in the public health care system followed by another waiting list of up to three years before they can access services.
“That’s what the government has been doing for so long, they’ve just been playing around with the waiting list for so long,” said Electra Dalamagas, from Autism Montreal. “I think having a class action lawsuit is the only way to force the government to have to look at the problem.”
Ménard will take a closer look at the file before confirming that he will go ahead with a civil lawsuit, but families are relieved that someone has stepped in to help.
“We are overjoyed, other parents are overjoyed,” Charlotte’s father Sam Kuhn said. “It’s been completely overwhelming and it just shows that Quebecers are outraged at what’s unfolding here.”