Local News

New New Ontario Autism Program Being Rolled Out April 1.

The Province is making some big changes to the Ontario Autism Program that will take effect on April 1st. 
The Government is committed to moving all 23,000 children off the waitlist as quickly as possible over the next 18 months. 
Premier Doug Ford spoke about the changes in Oxford Centre on Thursday. 
“We are listening to the families who have children with autism, we are committing the largest investment in North America, not just Canada, North America to children with autism.” 
Ford says they made the changes after several consultations with parents. 
“I’ll show you the texts, the texts I had with parents at a quarter in the morning, I was consulting parents, I was still in my office last night, all night I am getting hundreds and hundreds of calls, messages, on my way here I was consulting with parents, so i have been in full consultation with parents, my heart breaks for these families.”
Minister of Children, Community and Social Services Lisa MacLeod says in a press release that they will start working on the wait list right away. 
“Our government is fully committed to transforming how autism services are delivered in Ontario. The government is working to move all 23,000 children off the waitlist as quickly as possible within the next 18 months.”
MacLeod says one of the enhancments the government is exploring is how best to provide additional supports to families based on the diagnosed needs of their child. 
“Parents were right when they said that autism is a spectrum and that there are different needs for children on the spectrum. “I’ll take their input for the next several months to assess how we better support those with more complex needs and provide additional sources of support to them.”
MacLeod says the government is working on its previously announced reforms, particularly to ensure all children receive support.
The changes also include eliminating income testing. All families of children and youth under the age of 18 with a written diagnosis of autism from a qualified professional will now be eligible for a Childhood Budget. Children under the age of six will receive $20,000 annually in direct funding, while those six and over will receive $5,000 annually.
MacLeod says that all children who currently have an Ontario Autism Program Behaviour Plan will continue to receive the services outlined in that plan until its end date. Families will then be able to renew it for six months at its current level of intensity.
“We continue to work to support children with autism, and their families. The new Ontario Autism Program with its enhancements is the best possible program Ontario can deliver and it is the only program in the history of our province that will support every single child.”