The Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, the Hon. Lisa MacLeod announced revisions to the government’s program for autism services this morning. Today’s changes are based on feedback from families and other stakeholders to reforms announced in February to the Ontario Autism Program (OAP). The Minister’s announcement of extension of services for an additional six months for families already in receipt of funding under the prior OAP and the elimination of income testing as one of the criteria for service are welcome changes.
While the Minister did acknowledge that there are different needs for children on the spectrum, the government is nonetheless moving forward with the flat-rate amount of funding based on age and not individual need, with older children receiving significantly less than younger children. These issues remain a serious concern for many families who will be grossly underfunded to obtain the therapy their children need. We encourage the government to continue to review its plans for the OAP, giving greater consideration to ensuring each child receives funding that reflects their individual needs and fulfilling its commitment to consult with parents, experts, and advocates when implementing changes to the program.
We will keep you informed as this the OAP reforms continue to rollout. In the interim, if you have any questions or wish to discuss the implications for you, your family or the people you support, please contact Brendon Pooran at firstname.lastname@example.org or Melanie Battaglia at email@example.com.