Autism Coalition Demands Immediate Action

The Ontario Autism Coalition (OAC) is outraged by recent reports from the Financial Accountability Office (FAO)1 and a Freedom of Information (FOI) request from the Canadian Press,which expose the disastrous failures of the Ontario Autism Program (OAP). Despite funding being doubled, the program still fails to deliver the bare minimum in services to the vast majority of autistic children and youth in Ontario. 

The FAO’s Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services: Spending Plan Review 20241, shows that over 70,000 children are seeking support through the OAP, yet fewer than 15,000 have funding for core services. As of March 2024, despite repeated claims by the government that their target of 20,000 had been reached, a mere 14,886 children had access to funding.2  This is despite the program budget rising to $720 million. This infuriatingly small improvement in the number of children gaining access, over the former Liberal government’s 2018 program, has been achieved at double the cost, indicating significant administrative overhead and wasteful spending.

The government’s excuse for dismantling the previous program was a waitlist of 23,000 children. Now, that waitlist has tripled, an appalling testament to their mismanagement of the program. Families under the Liberal program waited two to three years for therapy access. Now, thanks to this government’s ineptitude, they wait five to seven years to access funding which they must then try to use in an over-crowded market. 

The Ontario government cannot continue to refer to the OAP as a “world-class” program when it can only functionally serve 1:5 children who have registered for it. The Ontario Autism Coalition (OAC) community is understandably upset. They have been vociferous for decades, asking for the bare minimum—timely access to the basic support/therapies necessary for their children to have a fighting chance. We ask the government of Ontario to stop obfuscating the truth about the state of the program, it has been laid bare for all to see. It’s time for action. 

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