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***(Canada) Ontario parents protest new autism program; cuts coming due to massive wait list

Feb 16, 2019, CBC: Ontario's new autism program a 'pittance' for all, say angry parents https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/london/autism-program-rallies-protest-st-thomas-1.5021102 Parents and supporters of the autism community rallied outside of PC MPP Jeff Yurek's office in St. Thomas, Ont. on Thursday evening. They gathered to protest the government's new Ontario Autism Program. Among them were Londoners Dan and Annette McLean. In early 2016, their three-year-old Blake was diagnosed with moderate-to-severe nonverbal autism. The couple says Blake has made progress since, but believe that changes to autism support could be major setback for their son…. When Blake was diagnosed, he was immediately put on a waiting list for Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI), an evidence-based practice to improve social skills and learning. Two-and-a-half years later, in October 2018, the McLean family received word that the Thames Valley Children's Centre had an opening for Blake. The boy was put on a six-month plan that is set to end on May 5, 2019…. On Feb. 6, the Ford government announced changes to the Ontario Autism Program to offer what it describes as more immediate assistance to all families. The new model seeks to address the lengthy autism diagnostic process, which currently takes an average of 31 weeks to complete. The government said it also hopes to eliminate the backlog of 23,000 children waiting for autism therapy services in Ontario. Under these changes, those on wait lists can expect to have funds for therapy in hand within 18 months. "But there's nothing there to wait for anymore," said McLean. "When it comes to the light at the end of the title, Ford has basically blown up the light and crushed the tunnel." … McLean says the government is essentially taking funding away from existing programs and forcing families to go down different avenues of expensive therapy. "We've been quoted anywhere from $60,000 to $80,000 a year for privatised services," said McLean. Under the new program, which comes into effect on April 1, a family can receive a maximum of $140,000 in total funding, depending on the child's age and the family's household income. Both McLean and his wife are nurses at University Hospital and he says they wouldn't receive nearly enough money to pay for the quality of therapy Blake is receiving now. … Another rally against changes to the autism program in Ontario is planned for London on Saturday.