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Panel recommendations on autism program to be submitted to the province

Todd Smith is sworn into his new role as Ontario's Minister of Children, Community and Social Services at Queen's Park in Toronto on Thursday, June 20, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin

A panel’s report on whether to have needs-based approach to autism funding and therapy has been completed and is expected to be handed over to the provincial government.

The consultations included an online survey that specifically looked to hear from parents who are supporting a child on the autism spectrum, telephone town halls and round tables in MPPs’ constituencies to collect feedback.

The results of those surveys went to an advisory panel that was made up of parents, autism advocates, service providers and clinicians.

Their recommendations are expected to be submitted to the province and could be made public as early as Wednesday.

Multiple sources tell CityNews that the panel is recommending needs-based therapy.

Minister of Children, Community and Social Services Todd Smith thanked the panel members in a statement, acknowledging they were carrying out an important task and sharing their knowledge, expertise and insights.

“I am confident the panel’s recommendations will serve as a strong foundation for the new Ontario Autism Program,” read Smith’s statement.

Ontario overhauled its autism program back in February in an attempt to clear a waiting list of 23,000 children, but families and advocates say that backlog will be eliminated at the expense of quality of treatment.

The changes included giving funding for treatment directly to families instead of regional service providers, dependent on age, with up to $140,000 for a child in treatment from the ages of two to 18.

Many parents have called for the funding to be based on children’s individual needs, instead of just their age.