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Ford government extends autism funding for one more year

The Ford government says it is extending funding for families with autistic children until a new needs-based program is launched next year.

As CityNews reported back on Wednesday, the previous funding extension was set to expire in two months time, putting even more stress on vulnerable families who have nowhere else to turn.


 

Almost a year ago the Ford government announced it was revamping the autism program to reduce the backlog of 23,000 kids who were on the wait list, moving from a needs-based system where children on the severe end of the spectrum could get $80-or $90 thousand a year in therapy, to a capped system where they would get $5-or $20,000 a year based on age.

Last October, a government-appointed advisory panel released a report calling on the Ford government to reverse its autism funding strategy.

After months of protests on the part of parents and their supporters – and a cabinet shakeup which saw Todd Smith installed as the new Minister of Children, Community and Social Services – the government backtracked and promised to create a better needs-based system, however, it won’t be ready until April 2021.

The Ontario Autism Coalition says while it welcomes the funding extension for those on the previous autism program, the announcement for those whose Childhood Budgets have expired is “meaningless.”

“Doug Ford’s government is wasting taxpayers’ dollars by sticking with the one-size-fits-all plan,” read the group’s statement.

“For those whose needs are lower than the funding provided, the unused money will sit in a bank account until it is clawed back by the government, never to help any child. For children with higher needs, the funding will be inadequate.”

A massive rally is planned at Queen’s Park on February 18, the day the legislature is set to resume sitting.