December 4, 2017 7:09 pm
Updated: December 4, 2017 9:23 pm

Retraite Quebec admits mistake and awards exceptional needs supplement to West Island family

WATCH: After an exclusive Global News report about a Montreal family who says they were refused government help for their disabled child because they “don’t meet the requirements,” Retraite Québec now says it made a mistake. The family now qualifies and will receive a retroactive lump sum, as well as monthly payments of approximately $1,000. Global's Anne Leclair has the details.

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A West Island family who turned to Global News after being denied Quebec’s supplement for children with exceptional needs has been told by a government official that they were turned down by mistake.

A recent Global News investigation uncovered that more than half of the families who apply are denied the exceptional needs supplement. Joshua Wolthaus’ family is now hoping their success story will give others the courage to keep fighting.

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READ MORE: Majority of families denied Quebec supplement for children with exceptional needs

“Their story doesn’t add up, it just doesn’t make sense,” Joshua’s mother Cindy Ho said. “The person (at Retraite Québec) got the file before the doctor examined it and she put in the wrong code so a letter got sent out automatically by accident.”

Five-year-old Joshua’s parents know very well that their son has exceptional needs, but proving it to the government has been one of the toughest fights of their life.

They first applied for the special needs supplement when it was introduced back in 2016 and were told twice that Joshua didn’t meet the criteria. But just days after speaking out on Global News, they got a call they never expected.

“I was speechless, I asked her ‘can you repeat what you just said, did you say Joshua was accepted?’ she said ‘ya there was a mistake’,” Ho said.

Her husband was equally surprised and elated to hear the news.

“I still can’t believe it because she went downstairs to the basement to receive the call and all of a sudden two minutes later she was upstairs, ‘we are accepted’, I’m like ‘no way that’s not possible,'” Joshua’s father Gideon Wolthaus said.

Joshua’s family was told to expect a lump sum retroactive payment sometime this week, and monthly instalments of close to $1,000 starting in January.

READ MORE: Lawyer calling on Quebec government to review criteria for ‘exceptional needs’ supplement

“We are very grateful that we finally are accepted and it’s gonna make a world of difference in our family,” Wolthaus said. “We don’t have to worry about monthly bills or therapies or how we can afford it anymore.”

Both Retraite Québec and the Family Minister have refused our multiple requests for an interview insisting that this was simply an isolated case and that the second letter of refusal sent out on Nov. 7 was a mistake.

While they’re grateful the government finally recognizes that Joshua fits the criteria for the exceptional needs supplement, they’re not convinced it was an honest mistake, as one government official told them.

“Is it a coincidence. I don’t know. It’s so close after the interview that we received the call and the story is really vague that they made a mistake, one in a million and they apologized,” Wolthaus said.

Joshua’s parents are hoping that other families dealing with children with exceptional needs will find the strength to keep fighting.

“They offered the program they said we want to help you parents,” said Ho. “I know it’s disheartening to be refused and not to be recognized but don’t give up!”

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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