Sunday December 10, 2017 – The Ontario Disability Coalition is releasing this statement today which is the International Day of Human Rights.

The Hon Michael Coteau MPP, Ministry of Children and Youth Services has invested $500 Million Dollar into Autism Services.  While this is welcome wonderful news, they are leaving out thousands of children with disabilities in Ontario.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNUDHR) was established by the United Nations in 1948.  The Declaration outlines international laws that protect individuals’ civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights from birth, and are stemmed from ideologies of dignity and autonomy.

  • Article 1 of The UNUDHR upholds the rights of persons with disabilities, in stating that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
  • Article 2 specifies that this is not dependent on “race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status” or the “political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.”
  • Article 3 highlights that “everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person.”

These Articles establishes that parents and children with all disabilities have the same rights as parents and children with no such needs.

The UNUDHR Article 23 (2) states that, “everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.”  However, in relation to inequitable therapies and caregiving roles, parents of children with disabilities have dual roles as parents and caregivers, meaning they work as unpaid medical care providers.  These unpaid caregivers are providing therapy, nursing, medical, and social work care 24 hours a day.  Thus, the health and social system in Ontario is taking advantage of parents’ free labour to fill gaps in funding and services that should otherwise be provided by the Ministry of Child & Youth Services and Children Treatment Centres.

Further, Article 25, outlines that children with disabilities, and the caregivers of children with disabilities have a right to the same standard of living as everyone else: “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of [themselves] and of [their] family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability … or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond [their] control.”

However, parent surveys unveiled how they and their children’s human rights are constantly violated through Children Treatment Centres withholding and limiting access to therapy.  One of the key ways caregivers and their children are discriminated against in the rehabilitation system is in how the child’s needs are evaluated based on whether they can improve functional within a 6-week period compared to another less disabled child, rather than an evaluation based on the child’s individual needs. Most surveyed participants had difficulties in accessing timely and adequate rehabilitation therapies though, their children met the definition of children with disabilities as set by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.  Inability to access timely therapies and equipment results in social isolation, avoidable health inequities and inequalities, and a lower standard of living for children and their parents.  Not being able to access therapist presents a barrier from accessing needed equipment.  Children should not need to prove they can use the equipment before they get it, we know that children need time and practice to learn to use equipment such as walkers, wheelchairs, communication devices, to name just a few.

On Thursday, December 7th, 2017 the Minister Michael Coteau released a statement of the investment of $500 million dollars into Autism services.  Part of this investment is for a direct funding model for behaviour therapies for children diagnosed with Autism.  We have known that this announcement was coming out for months.  For months, we have asked this Ministry to ensure the policy framework included ALL children with disabilities in Ontario and to ensure that they ALL have equitable access to ALL therapies (OT/PT/SPL/AAC) through the same direct funding model.  Again, thousands of children in Ontario continue not to have access to therapy and equipment.  In the end, so many children are left behind.

  • Why does Ontario continue to be selective in which children they serve and which will remain unserved?
  • Where is the equal opportunity to life?
  • Where is the dignity?
  • Where is the equality?
  • Where is the equity?

We urge you to tweet Hon Michael Coteau MPP Ministry of Children and Youth Services / Anti-Racism Directorate at @Coteau, you may also contact his office by phone at 416-212-7432 and by email at  mcoteau.mpp@liberal.ola.org

We want #NoChildLeftBehind.

Lynda Reusse, CoFounder, Ontario Disability Coalition
Sherry Caldwell, CoFounder, Ontario Disability Coalition
Manda Krpan Mesic,  CoFounder, Ontario Disability Coalition
Geoffrey Feldman, Director, Ontario Disability Coalition
Samadhi Mora-Severino (PhD student), Advisor, Ontario Disability Coalition               Paula Tzouanakis Anderson, Advisor, Ontario Disability Coalition

Contact:  Tel:  416-903-5067  Email: OntarioDisabilityCoalition@gmail.com

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