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Ontario Human Rights Commission sends 121 complaints to public

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March 2, 2004

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For immediate publication 

Toronto - At its meeting on January 28, 2004, the Commission decided to refer an unprecedented 121 autism-related complaints to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

The complaints against various Government of Ontario ministries allege discrimination on the basis of disability in accessing services. The Commission has referred the complaints based on the restrictive eligibility criteria for funding support and long waiting lists for a government program.

The Government offers Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) as part of its Intensive Early Intervention Program (IEIP). IBI has been shown to be highly effective in treating children with autism.  IBI has been shown to be most effective when initiated at an early age. However, children with autism may continue to benefit from the treatment after the age of six. Without financial support from the government, some parents have had no other option but to handle the annual $50,000 costs for treatment on their own or have their children go without.

Ontario human rights commissioners meet regularly throughout the year to review the results of investigations into complaints. Where the parties do not settle the complaint, and it appears that the procedure is appropriate and evidence warrants an inquiry, the Commission may refer the subject matter of the complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario for a hearing. The Tribunal is independent from the Commission. It determines whether a right under the Ontario Human Rights Code has been infringed and decides upon an appropriate remedy.

Further details and hearing dates for the cases can be obtained by contacting the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario at 416-314-0004.

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François Larsen

Kevin Carr