November 30th, 2021

Ford withholds millions meant to help children with autism

QUEEN’S PARK – The Financial Accountability Officer revealed on Monday that Doug Ford withheld $137 million of planned spending on the Ontario Autism Program (OAP), which the NDP critic for Children and Youth Services Teresa Armstrong says is a deeply painful insult to families waiting years to access the program and finally get support for their children.

“Children with autism and their families have been waiting for years for Ford to replace the program he destroyed when he came into office,” said Armstrong. “Tens of thousands of families in Ontario have seen precious years of their child’s developmental potential slip away because Ford wanted to save money, and now the FAO has shown that Ford is still trying to save on the backs on these children and families yet again.”

After families coped with years of cuts and frustrations under the Liberals, the Ford government promised to eliminate the OAP waitlist in 2019, but instead made even deeper cuts. Now the list of children waiting for needs-based services has ballooned to over 50,000. To date, only 600 children have entered into the new Ontario Autism Program, which advocates and families say is not actually needs-based.

“Families don’t believe the Ford is willing to deliver an OAP that meets their children’s needs or clears the ballooning waitlist,” said Armstrong. “The Liberals failed to build a program that worked, and now Ford is dragging his feet and refusing to undo his big cuts and bad decision, he's refusing to help the thousands of kids waiting for support.

“With Andrea Horwath and the NDP we could finally fix the Ontario Autism Program and bring help and hope to thousands of families and their children who have been waiting far too long to get the support they desperately need.”