Barrie autism service provider expects to lay off 30 per cent of workforce due to PC program changes

One day after repeating his slogan of "promise made, promise kept" regarding how there would be no front-line job losses under his government, a Barrie autism service provider is calling out Premier Doug Ford.

"It's lies and that's all that comes to my mind," said Amanda Baysarowich, founder and CEO of IBI Behavioural Services in Barrie. "Lies and letdown for Ontario."

Baysarowich employs roughly 135 people, mostly full-time staff, to provide therapy to 175 children with autism.

Under the new program funding framework, she says they'll have to let go of 25-30 full-time staff and 10-15 part-time staff.

The PCs changes have been heavily criticized by the opposition, experts and parents, who have held several protests in front of Queen's Park, something Ford previously said wouldn't happen.

On Wednesday while discussing provincial health care changes, Ford said there would be job losses, but they would be limited to highly-paid CEOs, executives and vice-presidents of health agencies.

Ford maintained repeatedly throughout the campaign, there wouldn't be any kind of public sector loss.

Baysarowich says because some of her clients will be getting much less funding going forward, they'll have to take their kids out of IBI's programs and she won't able to maintain her current staffing levels.

She added beyond the economic impact on her staff, are the severed bonds between children who will have to leave the program and their therapists.

"Those relationships are essentially being extinguished and crushed by the Ford Government, for these parents, for these families," she said. "These therapists are pillars for these families, they are strong and I'm not kidding you when I tell you that they hold marriages together."

The PCs inherited a waitlist of roughly 23,000 children that are not receiving funding and in order to get all families money, the government implemented changes that will take effect April 1st.

Instead of funding based on the kind of therapy required, money will be distributed based on a sliding scale of age.

A child will be eligible of up to $140,000, including installments annual installments of $20,000 from the ages of two to six, followed by $5,000 until the age of 18.

A panel of autism experts spoke at Queen's Park Thursday to urge the government to pause their plan.

But throughout the criticism, Ford and Children's Community and Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod have maintained the changes will remain in place.

"It's the toughest file I've ever dealt with in politics," he said Wednesday. "But when we opened the books, we found out the system was bankrupt, we didn't have any money."