Education Autism

Maintain and Enhance the Ontario Autism Program by adding $38 million in the 2018-19 fiscal year

Feb 2019

The Ford government needs to stop its bully tactics

The Toronto Star February 14, 2019

One group says it was threatened by MacLeod with “four long years” if it didn’t provide a supportive quote — without even knowing what the government was going to announce last week. Another group says the government falsely claimed it supported and was involved in the controversial overhaul of autism services. And a third group that went public with its criticism of the changes was dismissed by the government as nothing more than “professional protesters.” This was all done in an attempt to claim there is broad support for the government’s overhaul of Ontario’s autism program, which there is not.

The new program spreads existing provincial funding far too thinly in an effort to clear the wait-list for services. So while parents whose children are waiting may receive some funds sooner, it comes at the expense of kids receiving better-funded and necessary services now, and into the future.

This is an opinion article, but states some relevant points. From the archived source on the OPC Party Website: > "An Ontario PC Government will maintain the Ontario Autism Program, but we will enhance it by adding $100 million" This is broken because they are certainly not "maintaining" the Ontario Autism Program. This is very clearly reducing services and funding to parents and children already in the program. > "For their part, the NDP are not offering more funding, in fact, they are proposing to cut funding from services for children with autism. This will mean longer waitlists and fewer services for the families that need and deserve them" Again, another claim whereby those currently on the system are going to be seeing very significant cuts to the funding of services their children are receiving. While waitlists may in theory be improved, for families who can't afford them, especially with a $5000/year funding caps, it will mean fewer services. > “I’ve stood with hundreds of parents at Queen’s Park devastated by the lack of support for the autism community in Ontario. I know how important it is that we give these families the resources and respect they deserve,” said Ms. Fee. “This new funding will help thousands of children get the right kind of supports they need to succeed both inside and outside of school.” Given how they are interacting with the various autism organizations in this article, it's questionable if this is the "respect they deserve" that Amy Fee is alluding to. Once again, for families that need expensive intensive therapies that reportedly can cost upwards of $80,000/year, this also goes against the idea of children getting the "right kind of supports they need to succeed". > 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. As stated in the other CTV article, funding remains the same as the 2018-2019 fiscal year with no increase. I don't know if the extra $5.5 million/year for diagnostic services is within that same budget (that is, transferred budget from therapy services to diagnostics) or is new money, but regardless falls well short of the $38 million promised in the 2018-2019 year. With regards to eliminating the waitlist, it remains to be seen if this will actually improve access to services for families. If there is a shortage of services that even if families get annual funding immediately, if it still takes families a significant time to get a diagnosis and find a therapy/service provider, then it effectively means nothing. I see nothing in this announcement about improving the services that are available, beyond initial diagnosis. Regardless of the waitlist elimination, just about every other aspect of this promise and the language used in the press release is effectively broken.

Feb 2019

Ontario overhauls autism program to attempt to eliminate wait list

CityNews February 06, 2019

Feb 2019

Parents angered by changes to Ontario autism program aimed at cutting wait list

CTV News February 06, 2019

The government is also doubling the funding for five diagnostic hubs to $5.5 million a year for the next two years to address the diagnosis waiting list of 2,400 children, who currently wait on average for 31 weeks. The new program has the same annual budget of $321 million as the Liberal program.

No significant increase of funding for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.