“I want to thank the Ontario Autism Advisory Panel for their hard work coming up with recommendations to fix one of the Ford government’s biggest mistakes.
It’s been a difficult year for children and their families, who had the rug pulled out from under them when access to life-changing autism services was revoked.
It is unfortunate that Ontario’s most vulnerable children were the biggest casualty of Ford’s cut-first, think-later approach. But I will give credit to the government for trying to correct course by bringing this panel together to recommend ways to undo some of the damage.
Now they must listen to the panel and fully adopt a needs-based approach that ensures children with autism have access to evidence-based treatment they depend on regardless of age or income.
I am pleased to see the focus on early intervention, as well as the connection with mental health, because the sooner we can start helping children with comprehensive services, the better the outcomes will be.
I urge the government to work with service providers such as KidsAbility and Child and Community Resources who have had to lay off staff because of changes to the OAP. Many families rely on these service providers to care for their children.
With these recommendations in hand, I urge the government to start acting immediately to bring relief to families, instead of waiting until April.
The government must also stop ignoring the needs of adults with autism. Autism does not end at 18.
It is unconscionable that financial assistance for adults with severe autism was callously cut off in the summer without any replacement plan in place.”