Thistletown family members
vow to fight closure
Bradley, FFACT member,
Less than a week after the
government announced it will close the Thistletown
Regional Centre, Families and Friends Against the
Closing of Thistletown (FFACT) met on a sunny Sunday
afternoon for the first time in almost 17 years.
Family members of all ages,
including a large contingent of children, rallied in
support of the facility that helps more than 400
children and youth in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)
with complex mental health, behavioural and
A website to save the facility has
Families chanted “Save Thistletown”
and listened to speeches by veterans of the 1995
campaign – ultimately successful – to keep
Thistletown open in the face of a closure plan by
the government of the day.
As in 1995, families learned through
the media of the McGuinty government’s announcement
on March 19 to close Thistletown over the next two
The parents’ message at the March 25
rally was clear. They are angry at the lack of
respect and compassion shown by the government for
not consulting with them or even letting them know
the closure was coming.
They say the claim by the Minister
of Children and Youth Services, Eric Hoskins, that
Thistletown clients can be easily transferred into
community programs shows that he and his government
are completely ignorant of the situation facing
Parents say their children are being
served by Thistletown programs precisely because
these programs don’t exist elsewhere. Thistletown
runs out-patient programs across the GTA with a
small but vital residential component that operates
on the grounds of the Etobicoke facility.
The title of the government’s news
release that announced the closure was: "Improving
Mental Health Services For Children And Youth".
Nothing could be further from the truth. The
government is destroying these services.
The largest program at Thistletown
is the Treatment, Research and Education for Autism
and Developmental Disorders (TRE-ADD), a
comprehensive, community-based program for children
and adolescents diagnosed with developmental
With approximately 1 of 165 children
diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, how can the
province shut down a treatment and research program
when so much is still unknown about a relatively
common developmental disability that affects many
families in the province?
The group is calling on all
organizations that support and advocate on behalf of
any and differently abled persons in Ontario to Make
Thistletown Their Fight, so together we can SAVE
THISTLETOWN as well as push back effectively to
protect the services of all children that need any
kind of support.
The fight to SAVE THISTLETOWN has
just begun and FFACT is committed to do whatever it
takes through any available avenues to educate the
McGuinty government that shutting down Thistletown
is just plain wrong and removes the last level of
the safety net for children in the entire GTA.