April Fools for FASD?

Two weeks ago the Ontario Premier prorogued the parliament, which in essence was pressing the reset button. Everything being worked on came to a stop.

According to an article in the The Star

In a surprise move, Premier Kathleen Wynne has briefly prorogued the Ontario Legislature and says a throne speech Monday will detail the government’s priorities in the time remaining before the June election.

The article states that “all bills will be reintroduced,” however I think it should read all bills will NEED TO be reintroduced. It is not a given they will be.

When I posed the question on Twitter “What is the status of Bill 191?”, MPP Monique Taylor, who is NDP Critic for Children and Youth Services  replied: “The liberals killed it when they prorogued” and went on further to say, “nothing is in the budget”.

Sine then, the Premier has made a throne speech and over the course of the last week has made mega funding announcements in many sectors. With an election two months away these are promises, not given.

The only specific funding announcement I have seen for FASD is for diagnostic services and it’s contained in a $2.1 billion new investment titled: “Improving Promotion, Prevention and Early Intervention”

Over four years the government will provide $74.4 million for early psychosis intervention workers, improved screening for substance abuse issues, funding for community-based eating disorder services and diagnostic services for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

Not sure of the breakdown for each of these areas.

There was no mention of FASD in the $250 million in new funding over three years to improve support for children with special needs. The government has stated this investment will:

provide school boards with capacity to hire additional professional support staff and provide students and educators with the services they need through multidisciplinary teams at each school board, including psychologists, speech and language pathologists, social workers and behaviour specialists. This investment will help school boards address the current wait list for special education assessments by 2021–22, and transition resources over time to a more preventive, responsive approach.

The Province is also investing an additional $30 million in the next school year to support students with extraordinary high needs to be successful in school. This increase in the Special Incidence Portion (SIP) of the Special Education Grant supports the costs associated with education assistants, and helps to address the health and safety needs of both the students and others in schools. This new investment is equivalent to more than 500 education assistants.

You can read the budget details here: Ontario Budget

So that’s it. The only acknowledgment of FASD as far as I can tell is for additional diagnostic services. No support for students or adults with FASD.

Have we been fooled into believing this government cares about FASD.  It’s time the FASD community gets vocal. Best advice came from a member of a FASD group on Facebook:

Make FASD an election issue! Keep the heat on until somebody listens! Just imagine if this question was raised every time those running for office were asked where they stand on bill 191, that was dropped when Katherine Wynne prorogued parliament? Maybe it would be brought back at the start of next term!

Make note: Election Day: June 7, 2018.

If you haven’t already signed the petition Support Bill 191, please do so. Over 1,000 people have already signed it, there is no limit on the number of names that can be added!

And there is still hope. The FASD Advocacy Day for MPPs is April 11th – so write your local MPP and let him/her know we want Bill 191 re-introduced and passed.

If I hear of any other funding I will update below. If you know of any I’ve missed, leave me a link and a comment.

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