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(Canada) Ontario minister's autism budget will fail to fund needed services

Feb 7, 2019, Ottawa Citizen: Minister stands 'unapologetically' by autism program Ontario’s minister in charge of the autism program vowed Thursday to “stand unapologetically” for changes to funding that will eliminate a waiting list, but that families say will mean less treatment for kids who need it most. Children, Community and Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod defended the plan in a string of media interviews as her chief of staff sparred with advocates on Twitter. Advocates have indicated they’ll fight the changes, and noted their protests in 2016 against the then-Liberal government were successful in getting a policy reversed. But MacLeod indicated the Progressive Conservative government’s new autism program is here to stay. … MacLeod said she has compassion for the parents, as everyone wants the best for their child, but it was “cruel” that only one quarter of kids with autism in Ontario were receiving treatment while the rest were on a wait list. Under the new program, money will go directly to families instead of regional service providers, which will mean 23,000 kids would no longer be on a wait list for treatment. The funding is dependent on age, with families receiving a maximum of $140,000 for a child in treatment from the ages of two to 18, but advocates say intensive therapy can cost up to $80,000 per year. Families will receive up to $20,000 a year until their child turns six. From that time until they are 18 it would be up to $5,000 a year. Paolo Magrone’s four-year-old son has been on the wait list for nearly two years, and he has been paying out of pocket for therapy at a cost of $5,000 a month. He was expecting that at the end of that wait his son’s therapy would be fully funded. The amount he will receive under the new program will cover treatment for a few months per year until his son, who is non-verbal, is six. Then it will cover only one month per year. … The Ontario Autism Coalition intends to fight the changes. …
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