Parents of children with autism consider legal action against Quebec government
Published Sunday, April 15, 2018 6:19PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, April 16, 2018 6:14PM EDT
For years, the complaint has been that there's not enough money or resources for children with autism.
Now their parents are considering filing lawsuits against numerous government bodies, citing "systemic discrimination."
Claudia Taboada can’t help but get emotional when she thinks about the impact autism has had on her life – her son, a teen, has a neurodevelopmental disorder.
In order to care for him, Taboada quit her job in 2003 to take on new full-time responsibilities.
“We are competent women who have had to stay at home to care for our children,” she said.
Taboada and a group of similarly frustrated parents sought the help of the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) to help address what they believe to be systemic discrimination within Quebec’s health care and education systems.
They say their children have not received proper care, treatment, or support.
“This is it,” said Taboada. “We are sick and tired of the government not listening to us. This is for our children – we have to go, and we have to fight.”
The group says a lawsuit against the Minsitry of Education, Health, or even individual school boards is currently in the works.
They want to hear from other parents who are dealing with similar situations.
“Children like my son end up on a cocktail of anti-psychotics,” explained Katharine Cukier, a parent. “He is not psychotic. He is autistic. But they use the psychotics for tranquilization.”
Cukier is also part of this group, having also taken off work to care for her child. She estimates a loss of about $100,000 in wages because of this, and the ordeal has taken its toll on her family.
“My husband, my teenage daughter, and myself were all treated for depression,” she said.
The Quebec government says they’ve pledged to invest $29 million dollars annually over five years starting in 2017, as part of their autism spectrum disorder action plan.
“So whatever, they’re saying the $29 million – I don’t know,” Taboada said. “Most of us have not seen that money.”
For Samuel Kuhn, it’s been a struggle with the government for years. His seven-year-old daughter Charlotte has autism, and is non-verbal.
“This is cruel what they’re doing to our families,” he said. “What they’re doing to our kids – my daughter, it’s not her fault she has autism.”
Earlier this year, Kuhn protested in front of Minister Lucie Charlebois’ office, to no avail. He says that even though Charlotte qualifies for government-assisted speech therapy, the access is lacking.
“To this day she’s never received a minute of speech therapy from the Quebec government despite qualifying, despite them knowing about this,” he said.