Woman had vowed to protest cuts to autism treatment outside Bob Delaney’s office By Jenny Yuen, Toronto Sun
First posted: Saturday, May 21, 2016 07:25 PM EDT | Updated: Saturday, May 21, 2016 08:31 PM EDT
Clint and Melanie Palaypayon sit with their autistic son, Xavier, 6. Their local MPP Bob Delaney’s office complained to police last week and two officers visited their Mississauga home after Melanie told the office staffers she planned to hold a solo protest on Friday over the province’s new autism rules, which would mean her child is no longer eligible for intensive behavioural intervention.
Melanie Palaypayon is taking a breather at her family’s Muskoka cottage to collect her thoughts after Peel Regional Police came to her door Friday morning.
She says the encounter left her intimidated and shaky.
The 35-year-old Mississauga mom was tired of being told by her local MPP Bob Delaney’s constituency office that he couldn’t meet with her due to scheduling conflicts. On Thursday morning, she picked up the phone and told the Liberal MPP’s staff she planned on squatting there and handing out flyers to protest against new provincial autism rules that mean her six-year-old son Xavier can no longer qualify for intensive behavioural intervention (IBI).
Around 8:50 a.m. Friday morning, the cops came to her door after Delaney’s office complained.
“I am shocked and intimidated,” she told the Sun in a telephone interview Saturday. “I asked myself, ‘Is protesting prohibited here?’ or ‘Are they making a statement that we can’t call MPPs now?’ Why are they sending two police officers. I am alone, I am a mom of an autistic kid. I told them I would not be holding the door. I did not swear. My tone is aggressive and I can be persistent … but I am not a wrestler.”
A part-time nurse, Palaypayon, and her husband Clint, a computer programer, said the government’s move to cut children age five and older from being eligible for IBI paid by the province will mean more than 3,500 families who have been waiting half their lives for treatment will be removed from wait lists over the next two years.
This would put a $50,000 a year financial strain on those families to pay for private therapy.
“We’ve been waiting 3 1/2 years,” Palaypayon said, breaking down in tears. “We’ve been waiting half of his life for this treatment and they just cut it off. We’re going to be in huge debt. I will try my best to give Xavier what he needs. I see a lot of potential in him.”
Delaney claims his two staffers one a mother and the other a grandmother were verbally abused, but would not get into details, insisting “it’s between me and the constituent” when Palaypayon made over 10 calls to his office last week.
“We had one parent who was over the line with her actions,” he said. “The number of times she would call the office, essentially to have identically the same conversation. The tone and remarks she would use. (She) repeatedly used the word, ‘we’ … and she is very clearly seeking a confrontation. We are not welcoming a confrontation with an unknown number of people.”
Delaney said he called police but didn’t realize they would go and visit her home. He denies it was an intimidation tactic, but rather he had an obligation to keep his office staff safe.
“Given the things she has given to my office staff and the treatment to women who are doing their level best to help her, none of these women deserve the treatment they received and I’m going to leave it that,” he said.
Peel Regional Police were unable to discuss the details of their visit to Palaypayon’s Mississauga home.
“We have a responsibility to follow up any complaint,” Const. Rachel Gibbs said Saturday. “But we can’t comment on this because it’s a private matter and there was no risk to public safety.”
Palaypayon said Delaney’s scheduling assistant called her Thursday to set up an appointment time, but she has yet to hear back. In the meantime, she plans to organize another peaceful protest outside his office in the near future and maintains Delaney inaccurately portrayed her actions.
“I’m not going alone this time,” she said. “I need a witness.”
– With files by Chris Doucette