Quebec's $3M plan to help adults with autism not enough, critics say

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Quebec's $3M plan to help adults with autism not enough, critics say

Days after the province unveiled its long-awaited autism action plan, those on the front lines say the amount of money earmarked for adults living with autism is insufficient.

"It's just not enough," said Liam O'Rourke, co-founder of Spectrum Productions, a non-profit organization that provides day camps and media production opportunities for adults living with autism.

On Tuesday, the government announced it will invest an extra $29 million a year over the next five years for services and programs for people with autism.

After the announcement, Public Health Minister Lucie Charlebois told Radio-Canada that an extra $11 million dollars would also be invested for the first year.

But the amount focused just on people with autism who are 18 years and older is $3 million a year.

"When we developed this project, we developed this project because there was a lack of services for young adults," O'Rourke said.

For many on the front lines, the organization is seen as a gem because it offers adults living with autism a sense of belonging and employment skills.

Peter Papaioannou has been trying to get his online cooking shows, Eats with Pete, off the ground.

The 23-year-old lives with Autism Spectrum Disorder. He loves to bake and said his work at Spectrum Productions has been his recipe to a good life.

"They (co-founders of Spectrum) are very impressed with all the work." said Papaioannou.  "They are very impressed that I am also living on my own right now."

Since 2013, people like Papaioannou have been learning a variety of skills, such as learning to edit and work a camera.

"I have about 62 cooking episodes so far. Pretty soon, I will have 63 and 64."

O'Rourke wonders whether the government's strategy will be enough for the growing number of adults living with autism.

On top of the $3 million, the province's plan includes added cash for respite for families, more community support and a home for adults.

The government said partnerships to make all this happen are in the works.