Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Lucas Purcell as a former soldier. He is in fact, still a serving member of the Canadian Military.
Kingston & the Islands MPP Ian Arthur organized a town hall meeting in Kingston to hear the community’s thoughts on the Ford government’s recent cuts to autism program funding.
The town hall included a panel discussion that was followed up an open floor discussion where Arthur heard the community’s concerns. The panel included Petra McDowell, a clinical psychologist from the Limestone District School Board, Tess Clifford, the director of psychology from Queen’s university and individuals with an family members with autism.
“Really stressed families are going to be even further stressed after these funding cuts” says Clifford.
McDowell laid out details that the funding cuts will include. She says “clinical psychologists, speech and language pathologists, occupational therapists, social workers, registered psychotherapists, none of these workers are included in the funding of the OEP.”
A few hundred Kingstonians attended the town hall including a Canadian Forces soldier, Lucas Purcell. Purcell has a five-year-old son who lives with autism.
“I’ve risked my life, my people’s life to defend our country and I feel like I’m not getting the same kind of respect from my government,” said Purcell.
Many attendees at the town hall felt that the cuts will negatively impact the progress the specialized teachers and workers have made with their students and clients. Some say the money they now will receive just isn’t enough.
“I would love to see the Kingston & the Islands community engage over this issue. These cuts are nothing short of cruel,” says Arthur.
Many community members at the town hall showed an interest in planning a local protest to rally against the cuts for autism funding.