1.12.18 - “An Ontario PC Government will maintain the Ontario Autism Program, but we will enhance it by adding $100 million in the 2018-19 fiscal year. This is an increase of $38 million from the Liberal’s 2018 budget promise”
In early 2019, the Ontario government overhauled the Ontario Autism Program in an attempt to clear lengthy waiting lists for autism therapy. Families and advocates, however, argued that the backlog would be eliminated at the expense of the amount and quality of treatment. In addition, rather than increasing investment in the Ontario Autism Program, the Ford government in 2019 maintained the previous Liberal government’s annual budget of $321 million. In March 2021, the Ontario government started its overhauled autism program. However, it only provided spots to 600 children. To date, the province has not expanded the program to address the waitlist, which is now doubled under the Ford government. Therefore, this promise is considered broken.
“Dax and Travis are just two of more than 50,000 children with autism in Ontario on this wait-list, which has doubled under Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government. The PCs faced fierce criticism over their changes to the Ontario Autism Program, which aimed to eliminate the wait-list for treatment by sending funding directly to families rather than to regional service providers. Families are eligible for interim one-time funding, but critics say the money doesn’t go far enough as therapies cost around $2,000 per month.”
“Three years after a revamp to the Ontario Autism Program was promised to improve access, families say they’re losing faith in the province. Since 2019, when the province announced its plan for a new funding and services model for the program, the number of children registered and waiting to enrol has grown to more than 50,000, according to provincial figures, So far, only 600 children have been included in the needs-based program, which got underway in March and provides funding for ‘core services’ based on the individual need of each child. Those services include applied behavioural therapy and speech language pathology, which are important for many children with autism spectrum disorder, a neurological condition that can affect how they communicate and relate to the world around them. An Ontario pledge to clear wait lists by 2020 hasn’t been met.”
“Ontario’s new autism services program will launch in March for 600 children following months of delay, but critics said it would do little to help thousands of families who remain waiting for support. Social Services Minister Todd Smith announced the launch on Wednesday, saying the program will include applied behaviour analysis, speech language pathology, and occupational therapy. It will expand through the year to include 8,000 more children by the end of 2021, Smith said, noting that the phased approach will allow the government to refine the program.”
“The new program has the same annual budget of $321 million as the Liberal program.”