Cuts to day programs for the severely intellectually disabled spark outcry

Families and autism advocates say changes being made to services provided at Miriam Home in Montreal discriminate against the most vulnerable.

Electra Dalamagas with Autism Montreal says day programs for profoundly intellectually disabled clients are being cut in favour of providing high-functioning clients that have more potential to learn new skills. 

"Individuals with special needs to this degree of disability are going to be staying at home 24 hours a day," she says. "They're going to be parked, they're going to be warehoused."

A Montreal father who would only be identified as Mr. Zalmonov says his 21-year-old daughter on the autism spectrum had progressed while in programming, but now that her services have been cut off she's regressing because she has so little stimulation in her life.

"She's not eating, she's not walking, she stopped communicating, she became aggresive," he says. "It was not like this, it was not like this, but this is where we are now... she's in this place, she doesn't go out, she's like an animal."

Dalamagas says it's unethical to cut services from the most severely disabled to favour others.

"It's a slippery slope when the government is invoking the deserving disabled versus the undeserving disabled." 

Francine Dupuis, with the Centre Ouest CIUSSS, the regional health board, says the government is telling them they need to make the change but she says nothing will happen this year and that they'll be working with families to find solutions. 

"We will look at one by one what their needs are and we will come to an agreement with these families and these people, individually," she told CJAD 800 News.