The Conservatives are lending a helping hand to thousands of families on waitlists for the Ontario Autism Program.
In an effort to cut down the wait times on the "unfair and punishing waitlist," new reforms are being introduced so families can receive a Childhood Budget until their child turns 18.
Minister of Children, Community and Family Services Lisa MacLeod says "almost 3 out of every 4 children who require autism supports continue to be stranded on waitlists due to the cynicism and incompetence of the previous government."
The Childhood Budget is based on how long the child will be in the program. According to a government release, a two-year-old would be eligible to receive up to $140,000 while a seven-year-old would receive up to $55,000.
MacLeod says the proposed reforms "is expected to clear 23,000 children off the autism waitlist within the next 18 months."
According to the new reforms, families would be able to choose which services they need most such as behavioural services and they can choose their provider on a "fee-for-service basis."
To be eligible for the Ontario Autism Program, a child must have a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder from a qualified professional. Families are eligible to apply for program funding for children and youth up to age 18.
Today, there are over 2,400 families waiting for a diagnostic assessment, and more than 23,000 families waiting for behavioural services through the Ontario Autism Program with demand continuing to grow.
Evidence shows that children who receive behavioural intervention therapies between two and five years of age have the best long-term outcomes.