Wernick’s comments were appallingRe: ‘I worry about my country,’ Feb. 22.I was appalled by the performance and statements of the Clerk of the Privy Council at the House of Commons Justice Committee. Far from being a non-partisan servant of the government, Michael Wernick came across as a rabid cheerleader for the party currently in power. His attempts to rationalize the pressure exerted on the-justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould regarding SNC-Lavalin as “appropriate” were specious, to say the least. And his rant about fears of assassination in the coming election were rabble-rousing of the worst order. If indeed there are legitimate concerns, those should be dealt with by the various security agencies and committees, not in an open public rant at a parliamentary committee.Shame on you, Mr. Wernick! Do the decent thing. Tender your resignation to the prime minister.Scott Parsons, assistant deputy minister (retired), Public Service, OttawaClerk made reckless remarksHow reckless of Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick to state in an open forum that he worries about someone being shot during the next election campaign! Did he not appreciate that this comment could lead some out-of-kilter person to take up the challenge of making it come true? Now we all have the same worries as Mr. Wernick. Shame!Susan Buller, OttawaPrivy Council clerk has been politicizedAs an ordinary citizen, I’m not versed enough to know the length and breath of the scope of responsibilities of the Clerk of the Privy Council. I do know that the position requires he or she advise the cabinet in an objective, non-partisan manner.Meeting with top-echelon executives of corporations under investigation or suspected of bribery would seem to fall outside the scope of those responsibilities. The optics surrounding these meetings lead me to believe that the office of the Clerk has been politicized. Mr. Wernick, I, too, worry about my country and am thankful for people like Judy Wilson-Reybould.Denis Gagnon, OrléansAn honest man of great personal integrityOver the course of my public service career, I have had the opportunity to work for Michael Wernick, both in the Privy Council Office and during his tenure as deputy minister, Indigenous and Northern Affairs. I know him to be a person of character who represents the best qualities of a public servant: intellectual honesty and personal integrity. He is not given to hyperbole for the sake of attention and has never sought the public spotlight. It is for these reasons that his warnings about the state of political discourse in this country today should be taken very seriously. If the Clerk of the Privy Council felt it necessary to call out such irresponsible behaviour on the part of our political class, it is because those same politicians lack the courage to do so.We should be concerned about the degradation of political debate today. We should be worried about the reckless and irresponsible use of language by politicians (elected and unelected) who use terms like “traitor” and “enemies of the people” to incite their followers. Words can be weapons – and you cannot provide the bullets, then act surprised when someone uses the gun,Michael Kaczorowski, federal public servant (retired), Ottawa
Parents and their supporters concerned about autism support participate in a rally in Sudbury recently.
John Lappa /
John Lappa/Sudbury Star
Saving money on the backs of caregiversRe: New autism program could save $100M a year but at high cost to families, Feb. 20.I got emotional watching the news coverage of the protests over the Ontario government’s autism policy. Mamma Bears were out in force to voice their disgust, frustration, disappointment and concern about these changes. Even the Facebook posts in my closed Mom Group were angry. I knew that the anger masked the much deeper emotions of fear, worry and hurt. These are feelings you get once you realize that you cannot rely on the government to provide the services your child needs at a young age.You realize that you cannot afford all of these service as a family. Then, you look into the future at the lost opportunities and what the child’s life may resemble as an adult. It becomes overwhelming and you feel that your heart might explode on the spot.These are unseen consequences: the additional waves of emotions and the additional energy needed to advocate on behalf of our kids with autism. As moms of children with autism, we’re already overwhelmed. For those of us who have a child with severe autism, there are behavioural issues on top of delays in gross motor, fine motor and speech skills.A behavioural therapist is different from a speech therapist, who is different from an occupational therapist. This means multiple appointments in different locations, which all cost money. We’re in the thick of it, focusing on surviving the day and getting the child to bed to get some “down time.” I can only truly relax in the house once my daughter, Summer, falls asleep. Now, the Ontario government is throwing us into what feels like a tailspin.We already have so many balls in the air, but now the onus will be on the caregivers to find the therapists from the same pool of therapists that the thousands of kids on the waiting list will also contact. Does this mean that we’ll go from one waiting list to another? These are all forms of extra stress that we do not need.The government chose not to listen to parents. Instead, the government chose a cheaper option. My worry is that these savings are on the backs of overwhelmed caregivers.Nicole Dauz, KanataWe need more autism professionalsIf there are 8,300 children with autism being treated currently and 23,000 on the wait list, where are the professionals going to come from to treat the 23,000?With its “one size fits all” funding, the government seems to have neglected the recruitment and training of personnel. What good is the funding to parents if there aren’t professionals available to work with their children?Judy McGrath, PakenhamA short-sighted and stupid policyThese changes won’t save taxpayers any money. After all, these children are required by law to attend school: it will further dilute the local school boards’ funding or reduce services in our schools.A child with no intervention may be banging his head on his desk while your child is trying to read his or her composition to the class. But a child with early intervention may actually be brought to a level where he or she can participate in a regular classroom at some point, and ultimately become a productive citizen.I don’t have an autistic child but I have taught (high school and ESL) and seen what putting money into the system can achieve for everyone. What a short-sighted and stupid policy on the part of Social Services Minister and Nepean MPP Lisa MacLeod.Susan Prior, CarpAutism funding is a Catch-22Provincial funding for autistic children is an emotional issue. I feel great empathy for the parents, but there is an elephant in this room. Before these recent changes to provincial funding, there were 23,000 kids on the waiting list. Now, theoretically, there will be none.The arguments against the change of funding are from parents who, under the old model, got up to $80,000 per year for their child. There were about 8,300 children in the old program, about one-quarter of those in need of help. The un-emotionally clouded question, then, is: Is a little bit of care for all better than a lot of care for a few? Doctors might know, though it isn’t their job to tell us (also, they may not respond well to simplistic questions), and I won’t hold my breath for the PC government – and Nepean MPP Lisa McLeod, who heads the file – to traverse that political minefield.There wasn’t much nuance to the PCs’ election win, and there’s not much explanation of this complex change. So in this case I will refer to a famous Mahatma Gandhi quote: “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.” Autism may not be a weakness by nature, but the 23,000 without help in Ontario don’t have the luxury of such distinctions; they need help.Michael Friis, AshtonLet’s not forget parents’ lost wagesAnother issue that needs to be voiced in the criticism over provincial funding caps to autism therapy programs is the potential loss of wages for parents raising children with special needs.Who is bringing these children to their medical and therapy appointments? Mostly the parents. It is very difficult to maintain full-time employment when you are required to regularly take your child to appointments that are mostly scheduled during the 9-to-5 workday. I am hard-pressed to think of an employer who will so readily allow staff to take this much time off, yet maintain a full-time salary.This a double-whammy financial hit for families raising children with autism: the already high financial cost of much-needed therapy services that the government has now made even more unaffordable, and the potential loss of salary that comes with raising a child with special needs.Our elected officials should be ashamed. Let’s not forget: “It takes a village to raise a child.”Nancy Carlson, OttawaWhich health services should we cut instead?Okay, autism parents, tell me how much money you want. Give me the big, all-inclusive global figure. Now, tell me where that money will come from. What is your list of surgeries and treatments that will have to be cancelled to provide lifelong care for your child? Fewer cancer treatments? Cut back cardiovascular care? Reduced depression counselling?What are you going to cut out of the limited pool of health care funding to service your special needs? Provide that itemized list so we can all see what will be cut. Oh, you want to raise taxes? Forget it. That was what the last provincial election was all about.L.D. Cross, Ottawa
MPP Randy Hillier speaks to the media at Queen’s Park after being suspended from caucus over comments he made.
Jack Boland /
Jack Boland/Toronto Sun
Bring MPP Hillier back into PC caucusIt is a travesty that MPP Randy Hillier of Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston has been suspended from the PC caucus and his committees. I know personally how much he values and works to the benefit of his constituents, including those who would benefit from Ontario’s program to support families of children with autism.It is completely inconceivable to me that he would have the capacity to degrade parents with autistic children, because he does not have an uncaring heart. It is fully conceivable, on the other hand, that he could become frustrated with incorrect positions made by opposition parliamentary members.Hillier is a principled conservative who believes the government should work for the people. I fail to understand how the premier’s office would allow opposition political spin to lead to a decision to suspend him, and not defend him in the same way he would defend others who are attacked unjustly.I am requesting on behalf of Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston constituents that Hillier be fully reinstated into the caucus and to his committee assignments, and that the Office of the Premier support all members who serve with honesty and integrity and defend those who are targeted with baseless and untrue political attacks by the opposition.Brian Johnson, Tay Valley TownshipMeanwhile, on other wait times …Re: Ontario has 3-month waiting list for birth and death certificates, Feb. 21.Is this what the Doug Ford Progressive Conservative government calls efficiencies?Sinclair Robinson, OttawaThe wisdom of PetroniusRe: The Big Bang theory of health reform: Why Doug Ford’s plans have some worried about unintended consequences, Feb. 15.Before Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliott initiate another overhaul of the provincial health care ministry, they may want to reflect on this observation from Petronius, a Roman official in the Nero government in the first century A.D.:“We trained hard, but every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be re-organized and I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by re-organizing, and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing inefficiency and demoralization.”Greg Sullivan, OttawauOttawa didn’t blindside students on food bankRe: Don’t make uOttawa students choose between books and food, Feb. 15.I write to set the record straight following this article about the uOttawa student-funded food bank. I emphatically deny that our university “blindsided” its student population and made “arbitrary” decisions about the food bank’s funding. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the University of Ottawa is working in the interest of students to clarify new legislation that may threaten student services such as the food bank. In accordance with recent provincial government announcements, student-funded services, such as the food bank, are the prerogative of students. The food bank is run and funded by students for students, and the university administration plays no role in its operations. It is critically important to the students who rely on it, and we applaud the efforts of those responsible for its operation.New provincial legislation will enable students to choose which services they wish to fund on their campus. While the legislation prohibits universities from funding such services directly, we will do our best to ensure that students understand the impact of the choices before them.David Graham, Provost and Vice-President, Academic Affairs, University of Ottawa