Ontario overhauls autism program to attempt to eliminate wait list

By Allison Jones
THE CANADIAN PRESS

TORONTO - Ontario is overhauling its autism program, giving funding for treatment directly to families instead of regional service providers as the government attempts to clear a waiting list of 23,000 children.

Children, Community and Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod announced today that families would get funding until their child turns 18.

She says the amount of funding will depend on the length of time a child will be in the program, and support will be targeted to lower- and middle-income families.

MacLeod says a child entering the program at age two would be eligible to receive up to $140,000 for treatment, while a child entering the program at age seven would receive up to $55,000.

She says families on the waiting list can expect to receive funding within the next 18 months.

The government is also doubling the funding for five diagnostic hubs to $5.5 million a year for the next two years to address the diagnosis waiting list of 2,400 children, who currently wait on average for 31 weeks.