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(Canada) MORE on the cost of autistic children in Ontario; 23,000 STILL on waiting list

Feb 27, 2019, Waterloo (Ontario) Record: Autism therapists warned of looming layoffs under Ford government overhaul System overhaul creating uncertainty, families can no longer afford services, they say. Behavioural therapists say they have been warned of looming layoffs as the Ford government overhauls the autism system, saying new funding limits for families has led to the uncertainty…. Meanwhile, school boards are appealing to the province for some direction — and resources — saying children no longer accessing therapy at autism centres will expect those services to be provided in schools… She noted the province already spends $3 billion in total on special education. But NDP Education Critic Marit Stiles called it "disturbing" that school boards haven't received any word from the ministry. "Boards are telling us there has been absolutely no communication around the situation," said Stiles, a former school trustee. "Things were tough enough," she told the Star. "School boards already spend more than they are given for special education, and it comes through other funds. They are just moving shells around." Cathy Abraham, head of the Ontario Public School Boards Association, said "we don't know how many students will be coming — we don't know the degree of their need, we don't know the services required. We need to know what will happen so we can plan, because we want to be able to serve these children." MacLeod has said the government is "committed to eliminating the 23,000-long wait list for families of children with autism" and will do so in the next year and a half. Under the changes, the government will introduce a childhood budget allowing families to choose the services they want. They'll be eligible for up to $20,000 a year for children under 6 — with a lifetime maximum of $140,000. Children older than that can access up to $5,000 a year up to age 18, to a lifetime maximum of $55,000. The government's plan will provide autism services to more children — though that means some families will receive far less than they do now.


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