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Opposition says P.E.I. government not providing support for Islanders with autism

Health Minister Robert Henderson in the P.E.I. legislature Thursday.
Health Minister Robert Henderson in the P.E.I. legislature. - Maureen Coulter

Support for Islanders with autism is falling through the cracks of multiple government departments, says an opposition MLA.

Morell-Mermaid MLA Sidney MacEwen said during Tuesday’s question period that since it is the responsibility of a number of departments, Islanders living with autism are not getting the support they need.

“Autism falls in amongst a number of departments and I know a lot of advocates out there feel it’s falling through the cracks,” said MacEwen. “It seems to be everything with autism keeps getting pushed around from department to department even with the strategy, it seems like the government… cherry-picked certain ideas and the rest of the strategy fell.”

MacEwen said a comprehensive study in 2010 made 37 key recommendations for the province to improve services for Islanders living with autism.

He asked how many of those recommendations were enacted but did receive a direct answer.

One recommendation MacEwen singled out was for the creation of a navigator position to help families “literally navigate the many silos in schools, health are system and government.”

“That position was created in 2011 only to later be cut after proving success with families,” said MacEwen, who also asked if there was any discussion to restore the position.

While that question was also not directly answered, 

Health and Wellness Minister Rob Henderson said the department would continue to work with families to provide appropriate care.

Henderson noted that while autism does fall under different portfolios, for example pre-school autism is under the health department while school age would be the responsibility of the education department, he said the province had developed a bridging program where different agencies can work together for solutions.

“We realize there are differences between our different departments in dealing with our school age (autism) versus pre school and beyond,” said Henderson. “We’re continuing to work in collaboration.”




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