New Brunswick mother of autistic son files complaint with province’s ombudsman

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WATCH: A Shediac mother frustrated over the lack of support for her son with autism has filed a complaint with the province’s ombudsman over what she says is a broken system for people with disabilities. Shelley Steeves has her story – Jul 10, 2017

A Shediac, N.B. mother frustrated over the lack of support for her son with autism has filed a formal complaint with the province’s ombudsman and the Premier’s Office.

Cheryl LeBlanc said people with disabilities in New Brunswick who want to get an education and work are being forced to live in poverty.

“Why do they make it so hard for our children to succeed in life? Our children with special needs will forever live in poverty,” she said.

LeBlanc said she has mounds of paperwork she has had to file with the province trying to get support for her 20-year-old autistic son Ryan Hebert.

READ MORE: Advocate says services for adults with autism lacking in N.B.

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Exhausted and angry, she’s filed a formal complaint with the Premier’s Office and with the province’s ombudsman asking that people with special needs no longer fall under the umbrella of the Department of Social Development.

She said Ryan gets just over $600 a month on income assistance because of his disability, but he says he wants to work.

He’s working three part-time jobs trying to earn some independence and last year he enrolled in college under the special needs program, hoping to find a job doing administrative duties one day.

“I don’t know where, maybe in government,” Ryan said.

But LeBlanc was heartbroken when she had to tell her son that the $4,000 bursary he was awarded after graduation, “The social development took it all out so that you could not even enjoy your bursary.”

She said that’s because Ryan’s disability income falls under the same umbrella as people on social assistance, any income he records over $500 a month gets partially deducted from his monthly check — even his bursary.

“They will never have a chance. They have limited capacity. They were born this way and they have limited capacity, they will always live in poverty always.”

READ MORE: Changes to services for N.B. pre-schoolers with autism getting mixed reviews

In an email to Global News, New Brunswick Ombudsman Charles Murray said he can’t confirm that an investigation is underway due to citing privacy policies.

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“As our work depends upon confidentiality, we do not confirm or give any details about matters we may be investigating until any investigation is completed,” he wrote.

But LeBlanc said she can’t even leave her son anything in her will for fear he’ll lose any financial support he is already getting.

“It is not the social workers fault, it is not the case manager’s fault, it is the system and it is a corrupted system,” she said.

She’s asking that Social Development no longer look after the case files of people with disabilities and said a new system is needed, one that is easier for people like Ryan to navigate.

“If I die tomorrow, no one will ever know what to do with Ryan,” LeBlanc said.

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