Kingstonians rally against provincial government’s cuts to autism funding

Kingstonians held two rallies outside of city hall to protest the Ford government’s cuts to autism funding.

The two events, a lunchtime rally and an evening rally, together brought out about 50 people.

The passionate group of protesters braved the cold to make a point to the provincial government.

Twelve-year-old Kolsem Shunk, who has autism, was at one of the protests.

“I feel pretty bad for (other children with autism); they won’t get the same treatment I did,” he said. “If it wasn’t for the people who did autism training, I might not know how to talk, how to socialize with others, how to walk.”

The Ontario government will now provide families up to $20,000 per year for children under six and $5,000 per year for treatment of children between six and 18 years old.

Shunk’s mother, Stephanie, says families “are going to be denied the services that we have received and that were crucial to the development of my son.”

The government says these changes were made to help clear a wait list of 23,000 autistic children.

But protester Amber Potter disagrees.

“If we take these services away now, then we’re going to have adults that are more reliant on our services,” she said.

Kingston wasn’t the only city to rally against the funding cuts, as there was a large gathering outside of Queen’s Park in Toronto as well.

Kelly McGarry, a parent of an autistic child, attended both the protest outside of Queen’s Park and the one held in Kingston.

“There were a lot of people, a lot of signs, high energy and fantastic speakers,” said McGarry.

The changes to the autism funding are scheduled to take effect on April 1.

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