By Kaitlyn Clark
The Haldimand Press
HALDIMAND—The Ontario Government announced it will engage in public consultations through an online survey and telephone town halls starting sometime in May 2019.
Consultation is expected to run for one month. A new advisory panel, which has not been finalized yet but will include autistic adults, parents with lived experience, and various experts, will review the results of the consultation and put forward its advice later this summer for “a new needs assessment process, as well as an approach to provide support through Childhood Budgets”, said the Ministry release.
The Government went forward with the implementation of its new Ontario Autism Program on April 1, although some changes had already been made to the program after protests took place across the Province, including in front of MPP Toby Barrett’s office and at Queen’s Park. This included the addition of speech, occupational, physiotherapy as eligible expenses. The new program was initially set to be age and income based; Barrett said the income testing aspect has already been removed and the Ministry release suggests it will be returning to a needs-based assessment in the future. Those already in the program were able to continue their plan until its end date, and had the option to renew at that funding level for an additional six months. After that however, and for children just entering the program, the maximum funding of $20,000/year for those aged five and under or $5,000/year for those aged six and over remains.