By Jane Taguicana

After much uproar from parents and advocates of children with autism, the Ontario Liberal government changed its tune on funding the IBI program for children five years and over.

It announced at the end of June that the new Ontario Autism Program will “provide all children, regardless of age, with more flexible services at a level of intensity that meets each child’s individual needs,” said the Ministry of Children and Youth Services in a statement.
The changes will also include an additional $200 million of funding over four years and will start by June 2017 as opposed to a two-year wait.
The program, which was first announced in March, included a $333 million investment over five years. But the government’s controversial decision to pull the plug on the IBI program, which would have affected 3,500 children, sparked protests and social media campaign #autismdoesntendat5. The feud over the funding was so intense an MPP even called police on a Filipino mother who planned to protest outside of the Liberal’s office.
The province stopped short though of calling the earlier announcement a mistake, emphasizing that the revamp is due to listening to its constituents.
The province estimates there are 40,000 children with autism. Parents can call toll free 1-888-284-8340 for more information.

The raid on several pot dispensaries in Toronto this summer has raised a question on whether marijuana is legal or not. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to legalize it when he was campaigning last year but has announced in Spring that a law won’t be introduced until early 2017.
Right now, marijuana possession is legal as long as you are using it for medical purposes. You’d have to have a prescription from your physician or specialist to purchase one while you need to obtain a licence to grow it.

Canadians over 18 years who are “suffering intolerably from a serious medical condition” can now ask a doctor or a nurse to help end their lives.
Canada joined a handful of countries when it legalized medical assistance in dying in mid-June.
“The proposed approach was carefully designed to recognize and respect the individual choice of a medically assisted death for adults who are suffering intolerably and are on a foreseeable course toward the end of their lives,” said the Federal Health Ministry in a release.
The medical practitioners who administer death have the option to refuse aid for reasons of conscience or religion. They will not face prosecution if they choose to help.
It is important to note that families of members of the armed forces and veterans who choose this option will not be deprived of their pensions.
This law only applies to residents eligible for coverage by a government health plan unlike in some jurisdictions that allow the person to administer his or her own death. In Switzerland, non-residents can get a permit to die while in Belgium, children and those mentally ill can seek euthanasia.
The law calls for a parliamentary review in five years and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould promised to study extending the right to die to those who have mental illness and who want to leave instruction in advance in case they fall hopelessly ill.
Assisted dying is currently legal in some U.S. states such as Washington and California. It is also practiced in the Netherlands, Albania, Colombia and Japan.

Toronto celebrated its first Pride month in the shadow of the recent shootings at gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando, Fla.
Apart from making the weeklong festivity a month-long celebration, we also saw the three levels of government showing support, with Justin Trudeau leading the way in the parade. He is the first Canadian prime minister to do so.
This shows how far the society has come in accepting the LGBTQ communities.
Canada passed the Civil Marriage Act into a law in 2005 legalizing same-sex marriage. The legislation is anchored in two fundamental Charter of Rights and Freedom principles: the right of every Canadian to equality without discrimination, and the right to religious freedom. At the time the law was passed, Canada was the only fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. Eleven years since its passage, more than 20 countries recognize same-sex marriage.


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