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Province announces consultations on needs-based autism funding

Last Updated Apr 2, 2019 at 11:37 am EDT

The Ford government has announced a new round of consultations focused on a needs-based approach to autism funding and treatment in Ontario.

The government’s new autism funding model went into effect on Monday, following months of controversy and concern from parents.

“As of yesterday, 8400 children in service had their contracts extended by an additional six months,” said Children, Community and Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod from the Holland Bloorview Hospital on Tuesday morning. “This will ensure an orderly transition into the new program and allow us time to develop a needs-based enhancement.

“We will begin to move families off the wait list by prioritizing those who have waited the longest, and by age, with priority for 17 year olds and those under the age of 6.”

Many parents called for the funding to be based on children’s individual needs, instead of just their age. That’s prompted the province to announce a new round of consultations.

“We have heard from parents and we want to take the time to listen very carefully on their best advice on a needs-based system,” McLeod said. “So we will take a three-pronged listening approach.”

McLeod said the province would launch an online survey on May 1 “specifically looking to hear from parents who are supporting a child in the spectrum.” The online survey will be up for a month and will be posted at Ontario.ca/autism.

In addition to the online survey, telephone town hall consultations will also take place and MPPs will host round tables in their constituencies to collect feedback.

The results will go to an advisory panel made up of parents, autism advocates, service providers and clinicians.

McLeod said the province would also work towards integrating support from the health care and education systems, acknowledging that “these additional supports have not been leveraged or coordinated to best support families with an autism diagnosis.”

Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Christine Elliott followed McLeod by announced the doubling of funding to Ontario’s five autism diagnostic hubs over the next two years to “help children get diagnosed earlier and help connect families to local services in their communities.”

“Our plan is to modernize, to integrate, and to focus Ontario’s public health system around the needs of patients, families, and care givers … we are particularly focused on easing transitions and connecting providers.”

Watch the full announcement below.

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