Fentie apologizes to Autism Yukon

Premier Dennis Fentie has apologized to parents of children with autism.

Premier Dennis Fentie has apologized to parents of children with autism.

“If parents have been offended or feel that they were not treated respectfully in dealings with our government, we apologize for that,” he said in a letter addressed to Autism Yukon.

However, he has not yet agreed to increase funding to families with disabled children.

That’s a concern, because the fund’s growth in recent years has been outpaced by surging demand. As a result, individual families receive less money now than five years ago.

In 2005/06, 10 families shared $257,000 in direct funding.

Since then, direct funding has made a modest growth to $316,000. However, this money is now spread between 55 families.

“We were told that we were just going to have to share what we have, the pie is just going to have to be sliced thinner,” said Julie Robinson, the executive director of Autism Yukon.

“That’s a large concern because they underserve anyway.”

Autism Yukon met with the premier and Health and Social Services Minister Glenn Hart last week to discuss recent changes to the support program.

The hour-and-a-half-long meeting last Thursday morning was largely a fact-finding meeting, said Robinson.

“He asked for a number of things, which we thought would rectify the program and put the process back on track.”

One of the major suggestions was to return to a work plan for autism services that the territory started with Autism Yukon in 2006.

The cornerstone of the work plan was a focus on family directed programming.

It was launched in 2008 and broadened to include other disabilities.

“It was a state-of-the-art policy and we were more than satisfied,” said Robinson.

“In subsequent years it derailed somewhere, the self-directed thing has fallen off the table.”

This may be because of staff and ministerial changes.

“A lot of people that are making the decisions right now weren’t part of that process,” said Robinson.

“So we want to work on this together and get this back on track.”

In the letter, Fentie committed to revisit the plan.

He also promised to stop the proposed hiring process of three staff within the department of Health and Social Services and return to a more family oriented model.

However, Fentie has not committed to increasing funding for the program.

“And that’s really concerning to us,” said Robinson, “because the numbers are growing.”

The Yukon should soon have 200 diagnosed cases of autism if numbers are similar to those seen worldwide, said Robinson.

Currently, only 22 kids with autism are receiving help from the family supports for children with disabilities program.

And then there are the families dealing with children with a whole range of physical and mental disabilities.

“The children with autism only represent a piece of this picture,” said Robinson.

“We want to include those other families in this process too.”

Contact Chris Oke at

chriso@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chloe Tatsumi dismounts the balance beam to cap her routine during the Yukon Championships at the Polarettes Gymnastics Club on May 1. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Gymnasts vie in 2021 Yukon Championships

In a year without competition because of COVID-19, the Polarettes Gymnastics Club hosted its Yukon Championships.

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Yukon Budget 2.0

If the banks that finance the Yukon’s growing debt were the only… Continue reading

Yukon Supreme Court Chief Justice Suzanne Duncan dismissed an application on May 3 seeking more transparity on the territory’s state of emergency declaration. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Supreme Court rules confidential memo can’t be used in challenge of state of emergency

Court upholds cabinet confidentiality after request to use internal government memo as evidence.

XX
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for May 7, 2021.… Continue reading

The deceased man, found in Lake LaBerge in 2016, had on three layers of clothing, Dakato work boots, and had a sheathed knife on his belt. Photo courtesy Yukon RCMP
RCMP, Coroner’s Office seek public assistance in identifying a deceased man

The Yukon RCMP Historical Case Unit and the Yukon Coroner’s Office are looking for public help to identify a man who was found dead in Lake LaBerge in May 2016.

Yukon Zinc’s Wolverine minesite has created a mess left to taxpayers to clean up, Lewis Rifkind argues. This file shot shows the mine in 2009. (John Thompson/Yukon News file)
Editorial: The cost of the Wolverine minesite

Lewis Rifkind Special to the News The price of a decent wolverine… Continue reading

Letters to the editor.
Today’s mailbox: border opening and Yukon Party texts

Dear Premier Sandy Silver and Dr Hanley, Once again I’m disheartened and… Continue reading

Fire chief Jason Everett (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City launches emergency alert system

The city is calling on residents and visitors to register for Whitehorse Alert

Two young orienteers reach their first checkpoint near Shipyards Park during a Yukon Orienteering Association sprint race May 5. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Orienteers were back in action for the season’s first race

The Yukon Orienteering Association began its 2021 season with a sprint race beginning at Shipyards.

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its May 3 meeting and the upcoming 20-minute makeover.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland met with MP Larry Bagnell and representatives from the Tourism Industry Association via Zoom on May 4. (Facebook)
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland met with MP Larry Bagnell and representatives from the Tourism Industry Association via Zoom on May 4. (Facebook)
Deputy Prime Minister talks tourism in “virtual visit” to the Yukon

Tourism operators discussed the budget with Freeland

Polarity Brewing is giving people extra incentive to get their COVID vaccine by offering a ‘free beer’ within 24 hours of their first shot. John Tonin/Yukon News
Polarity Brewing giving out ‘free’ beer with first COVID vaccination

Within 24 hours of receiving your first COVID-19 vaccine, Polarity Brewing will give you a beer.

Most Read