For Immediate Press Release:   Ontario Government Discriminating Against Thousands of Children, Youth and Adults with Disabilities 

TORONTO, ONTARIO – March 31, 2019 – The Ontario Disability Coalition is extremely disappointed with the Government of Ontario’s decision to continue ignoring the needs of tens of thousands of children, youth and adults with disabilities across the province.

On the eve of changes to the Ontario Autism Program, children and youth with any other disability continue to receive zero dollars in Direct Funding for the therapies they desperately need to thrive and survive.

“All children, youth and adults with disabilities, regardless of label, need direct access to funding to support the very costly therapies and essential health services that they require for their basic survival. How much longer will they be neglected by the Government of Ontario? The inequity needs to end”, said Sherry Caldwell, Co-Founder of the Ontario Disability Coalition.

The Ontario Disability Coalition will continue to advocate for the needs and rights of all children, youth and adults with disabilities in the Province of Ontario until the Government ends its policy of discrimination. No one left behind.

About the Ontario Disability Coalition:
The Ontario Disability Coalition was founded to address and redress the ongoing and proactive discrimination of the Government of Ontario against persons with disabilities. It is a grassroots organization, comprised of thousands of concerned parents, caregivers, and persons living with disabilities in Ontario.

We represent all disabilities, including Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Chromosomal Abnormalities, FASD, Rett Syndrome, Muscular Dystrophy, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Visual Impairments, Sensory Processing Disorders, Hearing Impaired, and many other rare and unique disabilities.

For more information, please contact:
Sherry Caldwell, Co-Founder, Ontario Disability Coalition

Ipek Kabatas, Executive Member, Ontario Disability Coalition

Ontario Government Neglecting Children

The Ontario Government Plan now called the ‘Special Needs Strategy’ will neglect our children and youth with Special Needs.  It is just a Special Needs Tragedy.  
Eighteen years of study after study and the Ontario Government still wishes to waste money again on the issue rather than take proper corrective action.
The Special Needs Tragedy is NOT the action parents and caregivers who live everyday with a child with additional needs have recommended over these past eighteen years.  This is just another Government excuse they use to say we are doing something.
  • Money is wasted on studies when recommendations are not implemented. research is good if followed by recommended actions;
  • Money is being wasted on implementing a strategy which will fail to meet the needs of our disabled children and youth.

Meanwhile our Disabled Children and Youth continue to be neglected.


Ontario’s Special Needs Tragedy!

Failing Grade to Ontario Special Needs Strategy:

Ontario’s current model of Local Health Integration Network “LHIN” in-school therapy is rated an “F” by parents.  The government’s boasts that this will improve with their ‘Special Needs Strategy’.  All they are doing is adding service navigators we feel this will fail as NO additional funding has been provided!  It is a disaster waiting to happen.

Ontario is NOT using our Scarce Tax Money Wisely:

Ontario should be investing in Physiotherapists, Occupational therapists, as well as Speech and Language therapists. They need to work hands on with children and youth with ALL disabilities.  Many Special Needs Children, Youth and Adults can have a useful life and given the chance will be contributing members of society.  Children with multiple disabilities deserve substantial better care.

Champlain LHIN CEO agrees that therapy is consultative!  Therapy provided is not meant to help a child!

Parents must fight for hands on therapy as many are forced into debt,  depleting family bank accounts and taking out a second or even third mortgage.  Families become drained both emotionally and financially. 

Thank you Filipa and Paula for sharing your concerns.



The Special Needs Tragedy


Special Needs Strategy work has been going on for far too long – 4 years to be exact – with zero solutions or improvements felt by families. Although we recognized it was started with good intentions by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, over time it has sadly left families in crisis.

We feel the special needs strategy has been a waste of 10 million dollars, a waste of time, and a waste of public funding and resources.

Photo credit Money fight-
Money Fight

In a number of areas across Ontario, the decision makers from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (CCAC/LHIN), lead agencies such as those who provide preschool speech and language services, the Ministry of Education (District School Boards) and the Ministry of Children and Youth (Children Treatment Centres) met each other endlessly in order to drive change and improvements and reach local consensus. However, they could not agree who would handle the funding. No party was willing to give up control of services, resources, jobs and, most importantly, funding in order to improve the fragmented and broken system for children and youth with special needs. The whole process was ruined by GREED.

Look to Windsor for an example of this. No agreement could be reached and the Ministry of Children and Youth had to send in a mediator.

Sadly there is still no resolution, leaving families in limbo. Some families are unaware of what services are available to them, while others sit on a waiting list. Years of chaos have continued for families and their children without complete coordinated services.

Parents should be capable of managing their children’s rehabilitation funding and may even be able to purchase more rehabilitation services privately. Parents could also choose to use their local Children Treatment Centre if they preferred direct service. They can’t right now, but they deserve this choice.

Ontario voters care about special needs children and youth, and all families expect fiscally responsible and equitable services and resources for children and youth with ALL disabilities. It is 2018 after all.

Climbing a mountain

We, families with children and adults with disabilities, feel like we are climbing Mount Everest. We are just at different stages of the climb. When we bump into the right advocates, they help us move up to the next level and for a brief moment, we can admire the view, close our eyes and breathe. But all too soon, we have to resume the long, lonely ascent.

With the right supports, it could be more like this:

A family feeling at peace

 instead of this

Photo credit Money fight-
Money Fight


#NoChildLeftBehind #onpoli #SpecialNeedsTragedy

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

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:

Ontario Disability Coalition Reports on the Great Disability Divide in Ontario.

The Ontario Disability Coalition will report on the Lack of Hands On Therapy for Children and Youth with ALL Disabilities.

The Ontario Disability Coalition (the “ ODC”) is holding a press conference at Queen’s Park on Monday, December 4, 2017 from 1:00-1:30 PM, to raise awareness of the crisis in the Rehabilitation Services in Ontario for Children and Youth with ALL Disabilities.

Co-Founders Sherry Caldwell, and Lynda Reusse will release the results of a survey on experiences of parents with children and youth with special needs when accessing Rehabilitation Services across Ontario.  Samadhi Mora-Severino and her son Ethan will share their experiences.

Families of Children and Youth with ALL Disabilities should have a choice of Direct Funding or Direct Service options to eradicate wait lists and have timely access to hands on Therapy across various types of therapies.  Currently, the system centered framework provides various levels of funding with limited types of therapies only provided in short treatment block.  Every Ontarian deserves to be treated equally and be provided with the opportunities to be able to live without discrimination of the services, and facilities that they need to survive, thrive and succeed.

The ODC is calling upon the Ontario government to extend direct funding for therapy to ALL children with ALL disabilities.  Adequate therapy funding is needed to meet the needs of all children, regardless of diagnosis and severity.

Specific concerns include:

  • Special services are provided by skeletal front line staff at the Children’s Treatment Centres
  • Types of therapies that are provided vary across the province
  • Frequency of therapy is extremely limited & Endless Wait-lists
  • Discrimination based on Disability
  • The amount of funding across the Children’s Treatment Centres is inequitable

Electronic Media Kit

Lynda Reusse CoFounder, Ontario Disability Coalition
Sherry Caldwell  CoFounder, Ontario Disability Coalition
Manda Krpan Mesic CoFounder, Ontario Disability Coalition
Geoff Feldman Director, Ontario Disability Coalition
Samadhi Mora-Severino Advisor, Ontario Disability Coalition

Funding the Ontario Children Treatment Centres (“CTC”)

Not knowing the breakdown of the funding formula does makes it appear like their is an inequity but these points must be made as the real information and funding formula is hidden from the Public.

The points are:

  1. Revenues are based upon the client’s served and not on the success results.
  2. Yes, Holland-Bloorview Kids Rehab is CTC, a hospital and a research centre but a breakdown by division is not publicly available.
  3. Children with additional needs are required to go to a CTC in their region and not the closest one or the one that is recognized for success with a specialized therapy they may need.
  4. The Public cannot access information on the Funding, Clients Served, Success Rates, Specialty, and Revenues that use public monies.
  5. Some CTC’s have not published any information since 2015!



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