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Arkells give blessing for song to be used as battle cry for autism families

Max Kerman of Arkells performs live on stage at Lost Evenings 2018 at The Roundhouse on May 11, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Burak Cingi/Redferns)

“Relentless, Like a dog on a bone; Relentless, We don’t walk alone; Relentless, It’s time to get to work, now let’s get goin'”

Those are the lyrics to the song Relentless by the Canadian rock band Arkells and they’re about to be the battle cry for parents with kids on the autism spectrum.

Ross Maclean, who describes himself as a ‘Proud Austism Dad’, reached out to the Hamilton-born rockers on Twitter, asking them if they would allow the Autism community in Ontario to use the song as it fights against the provincial government’s new Ontario Autism Program.

The Arkells Twitter account responded, “It’s all yours” before adding, “Dougie, my man! I thought you were for the people?”

The Ford government announced last week that in order to clear a backlog of 23,000 children waiting for publicly funded autism therapy, families will get up to $140,000 to pay for treatment – a maximum amount if a child is in treatment from age two to 18. Advocates say intensive therapy can cost up to $80,000 per year.

Critics of the plan slam the fact that it’s based on age, rather than individual needs for varying levels of intensity in treatment.

Premier Doug Ford left the door open to a future “tweak” to the program, but suggested it wouldn’t happen while the province tackles a $13.5-billion deficit.

Adding to the backlash were comments attributed to social services minister Lisa MacLeod, who was accused by the Ontario Association for Behaviour Analysts of pressuring them to support changes to program or face ‘four long years’.

In the wake of calls for her to resign, MacLeod issued an apology to anyone if her comments made them feel threatened or uncomfortable.

Files from The Canadian Press were used in this report