Ontario’s autism funding overhaul — here’s how it compares to the rest of Canada

Canada Health

Parents furious over Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s overhaul of its autism program made their voices heard at provincial parliament this week, with many saying the funding changes will leave families woefully underfunded.Global NewsHelp us improve Globalnews.caGlobal NewsTake the survey now!Story continues below

On Feb. 6, the province announced changes to its autism program, which would see funding given directly to families instead of to regional service providers. It is an effort to clear a massive waitlist of children waiting for autism treatment in the province.READ MORE: Advocates, families of children with autism angered by income level to qualify for maximum fundingThe changes mean families would receive $20,000 a year until their child turns six. After that, families would get $5,000 a year until their child turns 18.But intensive therapy can cost up to $80,000 a year, and angered parents are calling for funding to be based on children’s individual needs, instead of just their age.“This new plan is the death of the Ontario autism plan. It’s going to clear waitlist, but do it by making sure no one gets what they need,” said Laura Kirby-McIntosh, president of Ontario Autism Coalition.She said the best way to help families is to fund a “needs-based” program, which determines how much funding a family gets based on the child’s specific autism needs.There are three different levels of autism, some children require little support while other kids have severe deficits in verbal and noncommunication skills, and need a great deal of support. Kirby-McIntosh said funding should target this spectrum.WATCH: Ontario’s Minister of Children, Community and Social Services responds to questions from parents of children with autism

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