EASTERN ONTARIO – Ontario’s government for the people is bringing relief to 23,000 children and their families who are currently languishing on a waitlist for autism services.
In an announcement at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Parliamentary Assistant Amy Fee and Minister of Children, Community and Social Services Lisa MacLeod outlined the widespread reforms to the Ontario Autism Program that will restore fairness, equality, and sustainability to the program.
“The Ontario government invests $321 million each year in autism supports that under the current system leave 3 out of 4 children behind,” said MacLeod. “I cannot in good conscience continue this Liberal plan that was more about politics than the people it should be supporting.”
“We are taking action to improve access to services and supports so more families of children and youth living with autism can receive fair and balanced service,” said Steve Clark, MPP for Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes.
Under the government’s proposed reforms, the waitlist for funding will be cleared in 18 months, people will be treated with fairness and equality, the system will become more financially sustainable, make the system more accountable and to guarantee that supports are there for families with the greatest need, now and well into the future.
“Families have told us that the system is broken. They are waiting far too long to receive a diagnosis, and when they do get one, they have to wait for service. This is not acceptable and our government is taking action to fix this,” said Randy Hillier, MPP for Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston.
With the proposed changes, families may receive a Childhood Budget until their child turns 18. Supports will be targeted to lower and middle-income families. The amount of the budget will depend on the length of time a child will be in the program. For example, a child entering the program at age two would be eligible to receive up to $140,000, while a child entering the program at age seven would receive up to $55,000. These changes will ensure that every child will receive assistance, rather than just 25% of families who currently receive support.
“Our government is committed to helping families receive critical supports and services faster, and not having children and youth wait for years before getting help,” said Daryl Kramp, MPP for Hastings-Lennox and Addington.
“Autism hits close to home for every community across our province and ours is no exception. Our government’s plan ensures that no families will have to wait over two years to receive support for their children again,” said Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte.
- To be eligible for the Ontario Autism Program, a child must have a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder from a qualified professional. Families are eligible to apply for program funding for children and youth up to age 18.
- Today, there are over 2,400 families waiting for a diagnostic assessment, and more than 23,000 families waiting for behavioural services through the Ontario Autism Program with demand continuing to grow.
- Evidence shows that children who receive behavioural intervention therapies between two and five years of age have the best long-term outcomes.