Today, Minister Lisa Macleod announced changes to the way that autism services are provided in the province of Ontario.
As a former school board trustee and as the former Minister for Children and Youth Services, I worked closely with parents and advocates who fought tirelessly for better services for children with autism. I knew then and now that strengthening autism services in Ontario was complex and that thoughtful, collaborative and evidence based decision making was necessary to move forward.
From today’s announcement, it’s clear that while the Minister may have been consulting with parents and experts, she did not listen to them.
The results of these changes will be disastrous for many families, especially those who have children with complex needs. Parents told us again and again they did not want this, and experts agreed. This does not come close to providing the funding that is needed for therapy.
Children currently receiving Direct Services will see their support disappear and to make matters worse, the increase in demand and private services, will result in increased prices for parents, further reducing how far the funding will go.
Minister MacLeod has ignored that fact that an age cap on funding limits a child’s ability to reach their full potential and is shortsighted. The changes I introduced 2 years ago provided choice, consistency and confidence by offering options for evidence-based behavioural services. It provided families with the resources that matched a child’s unique needs rather than a one size fits all approach.
The Conservative plan for autism services will cause irreversible damage. This plan does not build capacity, provide more therapists or regulate the cost of services. Further, it does not match a child’s needs to service offered. I urge Premier Doug Ford and Minister Lisa MacLeod to think about what they are doing to families and start listening to chart a better way forward.
For media inquiries please contact:
Andrew Green | firstname.lastname@example.org | 647-961-3574