ONTARIO -- The Ontario Liberals recently announced changes to the funding options for families of children with autism. These changes come after a year of protests by parents and friends of those touched by autism because of cuts and changes that the government made in spring 2016.
Last year the Ontario government changed the age that a child would be covered for Intensive Behavioural Intervention treatment which sparked outrage among those in the autism community.
Autism advocates came out in troves to protest the changes, even calling for the resignation of the Premier and those in charge, eventually causing the government to make small changes to their mistakes.
On May. 18, 2017, Michael Coteau, the Minister of Health and Youth Services announced more changes that would be rolling out, this time ones that seem to be leaving parents a little happier.
“It’s a historic day in Ontario,” said Rebecca Haight a mother of a child with autism.
The aforementioned changes include a new funding option which is set to be implemented by the end of 2017 through the Ontario Autism Program (OAP).
“The changes we are introducing are the first steps in building an OAP that is coordinated, family-centred and responsive to children’s unique needs, strengths and goals,” said Coteau.
Families are to begin transitioning into the new OAP program as early as June 2017.
Under the new program children will be provided services that are tailored to their specific needs, regardless of their age.
While this is seen as a win to those in the autism community, people like Haight are wary of these changes and believes that more still needs to be done.
“We’ve been advocating fiercely for direct funding so that’s amazing news, with that said there is a lot of unanswered questions,” said Haight. “I am hopeful we’re moving in a positive direction with the best interests of our children in mind, but I’m extremely skeptical.”
Haight also voices her concerns about the Ontario Liberals, and the play they may be making to try and drum up goodwill with an election just around the corner.
These changes to the autism program come on the heels of recently announced cuts to the rising prices of hydro bills.
Thanks to what many consider mismanagement and wasted spending, families have seen the prices of their hydro bills soar to the point where many people have had to make the choice between food and heat.
“We’ve been misled and lied to in the past by the Liberal government,” said Haight. “With an election just around the corner are they doing what’s best for themselves or our kids?”
Regardless of motivations, many people are excited to see these changes coming.
With the program set to start rolling out, it’s only a matter of time before we can see who really wins.