FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FEBRUARY 7TH, 2019
Ontario Takes Decisive Action to Help More Families with Autism
Will clear waitlist for autism services and provide direct financial supports for families of 23,000 children previously denied funding in Ontario Autism Program
Simcoe County – The Ontario government is bringing relief to 23,000 children and their families who are currently languishing on a waitlist for autism services.
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 dollars 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.”
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.
“There are over 2,400 families waiting for a diagnostic assessment and over 23,000 families waiting for behavioural services through the Ontario Autism Program and that demand keeps growing,” said Jill Dunlop, MPP for Simcoe North. “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. That is why we are doubling funding to diagnostic hubs over the next two years so that families can get a diagnosis sooner.”
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 work to guarantee that supports are there for families with the greatest need, now and well into the future.
“Families in our communities have told me the system is broken. They are waiting too long to receive a diagnosis, and when they do get one they have to wait again to get service,” said Caroline Mulroney, MPP for York-Simcoe. “Our government’s plan ensures that no families will have to wait over two years to receive support for their children again.”
Information about the Ontario Autism Program is available on the ministry’s website at www.ontario.ca/autism. Families can also call 1-888-284-8340 toll-free to find out more information about the program, connect with their local ministry office, be transferred to the regional Single Point of Access, as well as the diagnostic hub serving their area.
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