Families of children with autism plan large protest at Queen’s Park today

Hundreds of parents, therapists and union members are expected to gather outside Queen’s Park today to protest the provincial government’s changes to Ontario’s autism program.

Families of children with autism say the plan unveiled last month by Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod will leave kids without access to the level of treatment they need.

MacLeod has faced severe criticism over the revamped program, which aims to clear a wait list of 23,000 children by providing direct funding to all kids diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum.

The new program kicks in on April 1, and families say they are still lacking details of how it will work.

MacLeod says she won’t be going to the protest on the lawn of the legislature because the tone of the debate has raised concerns about her personal safety.

“We’ve had some credible threats, so we’re going to make sure that first and foremost [we’re] maintaining the safety of me and my team,” she said Wednesday.

MacLeod did not detail the nature of those threats or say if she has alerted the police to them.

Her office says MacLeod has received threats against her life through social media and by phone, and a spokesman says police have been contacted.

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