Understanding Directions for Ontario's Autism Program

As April 1st approaches, families and clinicians across the province await with some expectation for notice of changes to Ontario's autism program which is to be rolled out in stages through fiscal year 2020/21. There has been a lot of controversy and confusion about this.  The Minister of Children, Community and Social Services convened the Ontario Autism Program Advisory Panel in summer 2019 which delivered its report and recommendations in October 2019 - the Ontario Autism Program Advisory Panel Final Report.  On December 17th, the Ontario government announced it would adopt the Panel's key recommendations for a needs-based autism program that recognizes that every family's experience and needs are different, and that children and youth on the autism spectrum have different levels of need at different points in their lives.  

The new Ontario Autism Program is resourced with $600 million annually and will be built around 4 pillars of service:

  • Core services that include Applied Behaviour Analysis, speech language pathology, occupational therapy and mental health services;
  • Foundational family services for all families in the program, to build their capacity to support their child’s learning and development;
  • Early intervention and school readiness services to help young children access critical services when they will benefit most, and to prepare them to enter school;
  • Urgent and complex needs services to support children and youth who are in service, or are waiting for service, and have significant and immediate needs.

The first phase of implementation was announced to begin in April 2020, to be followed by additional phases throughout 2020 and 2021. An Implementation Working Group  has been appointed. OSOT is delighted that member Debra Kennedy was appointed to the Implementation Working Group and appreciates her commitment to serve in this important role.

There has been consider controversy and confusion about the program direction and timelines.  To date there have been no updates from the Implementation Working Group.  As parents and clinicians await direction, we
 think this summary update from Matthew Dever is a clear  and straightforward summary of what we know to date.  Matthew was a member of the Ontario Autism Program Advisory Panel and now sits on the Implementation Working Group.  His blog is NOT an update from the Implementation Working Group but it IS a consolidation of facts and timelines that have been announced.

View Matthew Dever's Update.

Questions/concerns about the evolving Ontario Autism Program?  Please forward your enquiries to osot@osot.on.ca.