Aug 3, 2023, Mississauga, ONT: Lengthy waits for help still plaguing autistic children https://www.mississauga.com/opinion/lengthy-waits-for-help-still-plaguing-autistic-children/article_5dbab312-bf92-57fa-b4cb-a22b40abf24b.html
Parents of Ontario autistic children have been desperately trying to find out where they stand with the new support program the Conservative government introduced almost five years ago to replace the previous Liberal government program.
This week, they got some answers, via The Canadian Press.
Thank goodness for democracy by Freedom of Information (FOI) laws.
The news organization sought the contents of a transition binder provided to new Minister of Children, Community and Social Services Michael Parsa in March.
It provided the overview that parents — needing to know if they will get government subsidies for their children’s treatments or whether they should remortgage their homes or sell other assets — have been unsuccessfully seeking.
Long story short: despite the Conservatives doubling the budget, the program can serve 20,000 children. There are 60,000 on the list, which grows annually.
This confirms what parents feared and the government would not admit: the new program, being operated through a for-profit “independent intake organization” won’t fit the bill any better than the old one.
The information “was a shock but not a surprise, if that makes any sense” says Bruce MacIntosh, founding president of the Ontario Autism Coalition and disillusioned Conservative who adds, “things are even worse than we thought.”
The Tories tore apart the previous plan “because the Liberals did it,” he says. The solution has proven to be a bigger problem.
Instead of a needs-based system so autistic children with higher needs get more service, the government initially paid set amounts based on age. They’ve since amended their one-size fits-all system to recognize individual needs more….
The Autism Coalition convinced the government to post the waiting list as its program unfolded. When rising numbers hit 54,000 in January, the list disappeared.
“They know they’ve got a really serious problem but they don’t know how to fix it.”
McIntosh says confirmation of the delay for service for 40,000 families has moved many from “angry to furious.”
Some will try another province or country where prospects are better….