Ontario autism services waitlist grew to 27,600 children in 2019-2020: FAO

AUTISM

Ontario's fiscal watchdog says the waitlist for child autism services in the province grew to 27,600 children last year.

The Financial Accountability Officer says the increase came as the province shifted funding for behavioural therapy programs.

The changes announced by Premier Doug Ford's government in 2019 sought to eliminate waitlists, but reduced the average amount paid to families to support their children.

Following a backlash, the government announced last year it would create a needs-based program starting in 2021.

The FAO says the province has committed to $600 million in funding for the new program next year.

He says at that level,  which would provide an average child with $29,900 annually for therapy, the waitlist would still be nearly 23,000 children.