Opposition critical of government plan to assist Ontario children with autism

The leader of the Progressive Conservative Opposition, has expressed his concern in the Ontario legislature over the new funding program for families of children with autism.

PC leader Patrick Brown referred to an article released in The Toronto Star in which the Liberals’ own expert advisory panel cautioned them about putting an age gap on autism services. This would mean that children above the age of five on the waiting list might not receive the intensive behavioural intervention (IBI) that the government had promised.

Brown spoke on Thursday during question period.

“The former minister said that they were continuing to listen to experts and that her plan was based in large part on the clinical expert committee,” Brown said. “We just learned on April 18, before the minister made those comments, that the expert committee wrote to the minister. They tried to caution the minister that her plan was detrimental to vulnerable kids and that there was no evidence to support kicking kids off the wait-list.”

In response to this question regarding children who had been cut off the wait-list for IBI treatment, Michael Coteau, the new Minister of Children and Youth Services, reiterated what he considered the merits of the Liberals’ new program.

“What we’re planning to do is, by June of next year, to build a new system that will allow for children to be diagnosed earlier,” Coteau said. “We will open up new spots here in the province of Ontario and we’ll put in a system that allows young people to reach their full potential.”

There was no response to the claims that families removed from the waiting list had not yet received the funds promised to help them through the transition period until the new program begins.