The Ontario government has given Maggie an ultimatum: the disabled teen can lose her funding or her independence.
The federal budget released Thursday doesn’t help the teen’s cause. It offers no concrete steps to help parents afford her care — a lifeline for parents of disabled children.
Maggie, 13, is having a hard time convincing her parents’ lawyers that she’s ready to go home to her own room and have her own iPad.
“I don’t want to go back to my room. I want to go to the kitchen, and I want my own iPad,” she said.
For her, her home is wherever there’s food: the grocery store, which is just a two-hour drive away, and her school, which’s just a 15-minute walk away.
Maggie’s parents have spent the last eight months trying to get her back home by appealing to the government, the courts and the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
The human rights commission’s decision, which said that Maggie has had “an absolute right” to remain at school — despite her disability — is now the focus of a Supreme Court of Canada hearing.
For the past month, Ontario disability advocates have been calling the government, asking them to reverse the human rights commission ruling.
Maggie has been home for three months, but she still doesn’t feel safe.
Maggie’s parents have been fighting the government for a year. (Ontario Disability Advocacy Alliance) “I can’t say this to the child, she’s not supposed to be talking to the media,” said John MacLean, the teen’s father.
“I’m not trying to say this to anyone except my child, and my child is hurting,” said MacLean. “I’m trying to do right by her, and what we are asking for from the government, I think, is pretty clear.”
But the province’s human rights commissioner, Jennifer Rycroft, has been defending the commission’s decision, and says she’s not obliged to reverse it.
“We are not obligated to follow the commission’s decision,” she told the Star.
“As long as we’re satisfied that the commission’s decision is lawful, we’re not to revisit it.”