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Parents of children with autism to take legal action against Quebec government, school boards

Global News logo Global News 2018-04-15 Gloria Henriquez
Parents of children living with autism coming together to take legal action against Quebec government, school boards at CRARR's offices in Montreal. Sunday April 15, 2018. © Global News Parents of children living with autism coming together to take legal action against Quebec government, school boards at CRARR's offices in Montreal. Sunday April 15, 2018.

A group of parents of children on the autism spectrum say they're ready to take legal action against the government of Quebec and its school boards, because they say the system is discriminating against their children.

Claudia Taboada is one of those parents.

"We have no life, we have no life and this is going on. It's going to go forever," Taboada said in tears.

She worries her 17 year-old will not get the services he needs past the age of 21.

"[It's as if] at 21, children [are] not autistic anymore, and it's what scares me because at 21 there are no services ," Taboada explained.

They say the government's lack of services and long waiting lists force them to seek private care.

Desperate to access services, parents like Sam Kuhn have resorted to crowdfunding to pay for the therapy his seven year-old daughter Charlotte needs.

Kuhn even protested in front of Quebec's Public Health Minister Lucie Charlebois in an effort to access the services his daughter needs.

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EXCLUSIVE: Father planning protest outside health minister’s office to beg for speech therapy for daughter with autism

At a press conference on Sunday, parents were at wit's end and left with no other choice but to take legal action.

They now plan to file multiple civil rights complaints to the Commission of Human Rights.

"We want respect, we want that their rights for education, for living, for dignity are respected," Taboada said, "and we're going to go all the way. All the way."

The Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) believes the province's failure to provide proper services and education is a clear display of discrimination based on disability — and that violates children's rights.

Together, the parents and the centre are also looking to launch a class action lawsuit against school boards.

"For failure to accommodate, for failure to integrate children, but also against many of the rehabilitation centres and healthcare system for failure to provide the equal protection of the law," said Fo Niemi, executive director of the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations.

A spokesperson for public health minister Lucie Charlebois told Global News the government is aware of the increasing needs of the autism community. And that's why the province is investing $29 million a year into its 2017-2022 autism action plan.

But families affected say that help is nowhere to be seen.

READ MORE:

Parents protest and call on Quebec to step up autism services

"I haven't seen any of this money and I don't think my colleagues have," Taboada said.

And that's why she's calling on other parents to join their fight.

"We are sick and tired of the government not listening to us," Taboada said. "This is for our children. We have to go and we have to fight."

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