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Mother of adult child with autism fears more families heading towards crisis

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Joanne Schnurr, CTV Ottawa


Published Tuesday, February 19, 2019 3:58PM EST


Last Updated Tuesday, February 19, 2019 3:59PM EST

An Ottawa mother who made national headlines years ago when she left her son at a government office is speaking out again for parents of children with special needs.

Amanda Telford says the Ontario government’s changes to autism funding will leaves families in crisis once again.  It’s been six years since Amanda Telford made a gut-wrenching decision, admitting she and her husband could no longer care for their 19-year-old son Philippe, worried about keeping him safe in their home.  The towering teen had multiple developmental disabilities including autism.  Her story, she fears, may become the story for other families now.

It’s been years since CTV last interviewed Amanda Telford.   But like any mom, she’s proud to catch us up on how her son Philippe is doing.  He is 25 now and living in a group home in Cornwall. 

‘He’s well-integrated in the community,” Telford says, as she flips through photos of him, “and Philippe is a very happy camper.”

But it took a defining moment in April of 2013 for both Philippe and his parents to get there. Exhausted and fearing for his safety, the Telfords left Philippe at a provincial government office, turning a spotlight on a system in crisis.

Telford says she thinks of that day often.

“I don’t regret what I did,” she says, “It kept my son safe.”

Her only regret she says is that the system wasn’t more responsive to parents desperate for help, a situation she sees playing out once again as parents of children with autism mount rallies in protest.

“We need to be finding more innovative ways of supporting our autism community,” says Telford, “and it doesn’t mean throwing more money at it but doing things better, smarter and differently.”

Today, as the provincial legislature resumed sitting, the NDP resumed its attack on the Ford government’s handling of the autism file, demanding Lisa MacLeod be removed from her role as Social Services Minister.

“It’s bad enough he betrayed his promise to be there 1000%,” Andrea Horwath, the Official Leader of the Opposition said of Premier Doug Ford during Question Period, “but the Minister who is supposed to be the voice for families at the Cabinet table threatened families and stakeholders. If she will not resign,” Horwath continued, “will the Premier show leadership and remove her from her role?”

Minister Lisa MacLeod responded to that question, “Iwill be unapologetic in making sure that 100% of the children that require support from their government when they have autism receive what they need.”

Amanda Telford has heard that message before; she worries the reality could force history to repeat itself.

“I would imagine there are people who would consider doing what I did,” she says, referring to that decision six years ago, “just out of pure desperation.”

Telford says her advice to parents is to keep advocating for their kids but to look after themselves, too.  She says these struggles take a toll on their health and their marriage.

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Starbucks permanently closing Byward market location on Jan. 31

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The Byward Market Starbucks is closing permanently at the end of January.

“It is with heavy hearts that we must announce the permanent closure of our store on January 31,” the coffee shop said in an Instagram post.

“Due to the changes in the economic climate since the start of the pandemic, Starbucks Canada has made some difficult decisions to close certain stores across the country whose business have been most effected by COVID-19. Unfortunately, our store fell into that category.”

Starbucks is to close up to 300 locations by the end of March, the chain announced earlier this month, accelerating its “transformation strategy” in response to changing consumer habits during the pandemic.

The chain expects to complete theplanned store closures by the end of its second quarter. The restructuring includes adding new drive-thru locations, expanding delivery and a pilot of curbside pick up-only locations.

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Statistics Canada says wholesale sales rose in November, manufacturing sales down

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OTTAWA — Canadian wholesale sales grew for the seventh consecutive month in November to hit a record high, while manufacturing sales fell for the month.

Manufacturing sales dropped 0.6 per cent to $53.7 billion in November, Statistics Canada reported Tuesday.

CIBC senior economist Royce Mendes said factory sales took a breather in November, but he added that the decline seemed to have been narrowly driven by a few categories, noting that only five of 21 industries saw lower sales for the month.

“Declines were most prevalent in the auto and aerospace sectors,” Mendes wrote in a brief report.

“Lower prices for lumber and wood products also pulled down sales of wood products, which have been benefiting recently from strong demand for building.”

The data provided a snapshot of the economy for November, however the increased restrictions to slow the spread of the pandemic in some provinces since then are expected to have taken a deeper toll on the economy.

“Since November, restrictions have increased in provinces with the largest manufacturing centers, pointing to further subdued performances going forward,” TD Bank economist Omar Abdelrahman wrote.

“Although manufacturing was deemed essential by all provinces, the sector will face headwinds from the drop in domestic demand seen elsewhere in the economy.”

The transportation equipment industry fell 9.1 per cent to $8.9 billion in November, while aerospace production fell 23.8 per cent to $1.2 billion and motor vehicle sales slipped 5.7 per cent to $4.3 billion.

Wood product manufacturing sales fell 4.1 per cent to $3.3 billion in November on lower sales in the sawmills and wood preservation industry.

Overall manufacturing sales in constant dollars fell 0.6 per cent.

Meanwhile, Statistics Canada said Tuesday wholesale sales rose 0.7 per cent to an all-time high of $67.4 billion as five of seven subsectors reported stronger sales.

The gains were led by the machinery, equipment and supplies subsector and the building material and supplies subsector. 

The machinery, equipment and supplies group rose 2.8 per cent to $14.3 billion, while building material and supplies rose 1.1 per cent to $10.2 billion.

Wholesale trade in volume terms rose 0.9 per cent in November.

The data for November came ahead of the Bank of Canada’s interest rate decision and monetary policy report on Wednesday. 

The central bank is widely expected to keep its key interest on hold at 0.25 per cent.

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Retail sales rise 1.3 per cent to $55.2 billion in November as online shopping surges

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OTTAWA — Retail sales climbed for the seventh straight month in November as Black Friday deals and a rush to order online gifts early to avoid shipping delays pushed sales up 1.3 per cent to $55.2 billion, Statistics Canada said Friday. 

But the federal agency’s unofficial early estimate for December appeared to dampen the retail momentum.

It said sales for the last month of 2020 – typically the peak of the holiday shopping season – potentially fell by as much as 2.6 per cent. 

Retail expert Farla Efros said it’s not surprising the sales would taper off in December given the heavy discounting offered on Black Friday in November, as well as Amazon’s decision to move its Prime Day to mid-October. 

“Most people took the opportunity to do their shopping early and get those deals,” said Efros, president of HRC Retail Advisory.

In addition, Toronto and the Peel region went into lockdown in late November, followed by the entire province of Ontario on Boxing Day.

Efros said those restrictions likely negatively impacted retail sales throughout December. 

Meanwhile, the latest Statistics Canada figures show a strong growth in online shopping in November.

Retail e-commerce sales for November were up 75.9 per cent from the same month a year earlier, the agency said. 

“The rise in sales coincided with retailers urging online shoppers to buy early to avoid shipping delays, as well as promotional events such as Black Friday,” Statistics Canada said in its release. 

Royce Mendes, senior economist at CIBC Capital Markets, said in a client note that the growth in e-commerce sales was likely led by households staying at home more as COVID-19 cases were rising.

He said numbers don’t include “some of the largest online retailers, which the survey doesn’t capture.”

Food and beverage store sales were up 5.9 per cent in November, even as about three per cent of all retailers were closed at some point in the month as restrictions tightened amid a resurgence in COVID-19 cases.

Efros pointed out that restaurants in some areas were forced to close in November, likely leading to the  increase in retail food sales at grocery stores. 

She said food price inflation may have also pushed the sales figures higher as well. 

Meanwhile, sales at auto parts dealers fell in November for the first time since April, as truck sales declined four per cent from November 2019, and passenger car sales tumbled 20.5 per cent compared with the same month last year.

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