Doug Ford’s cuts to autism left Ontario children without access to diagnostic, therapeutic, and treatment services they needed most.
In early 2019, the Doug Ford government announced it would drastically cut funding to the Ontario Autism Program (OAP), the primary government program responsible for financing and administering treatment for children under 18 diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The move was met shock and condemnation from the families that rely on the program’s services as well as widespread public outrage.
The care provided by OAP is absolutely critical but expensive and in some cases can cost up to $100,000 per year.
Doug Ford’s conservatives attempted to cut assistance to families from full coverage to just $20,000 per year until the age of six and $5,000 per year between the ages of six and 18. Families with a household income exceeding $250,000 were cut off completely.
For months, staff were laid off at service centres across the province while children went undiagnosed and were otherwise left to suffer because of Ford’s careless and cruel cuts.
Under tremendous public pressure, Doug Ford’s government began to backpedal its planned cuts but has yet to fully restore funding, reverse the laid off autism care professionals and other staff, let alone provide the funds necessary to ensure all families have access to diagnostic, therapeutic, and autism treatment services in the province.
The damage has been done and families and children continue to suffer. Regression is a real and significant possibility for those children whose care was interrupted by Ford’s cuts. For those children and families the damage may be long-term and possibly irreversible.
The Ontario Autism Coalition has been an outspoken critic of Ford’s cuts to autism programs and continues to monitor the situation. We encourage you to visit their site for more details here.