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The Changing Landscape of Autism and Behavioural Services Funding in Ontario

Written by: Heather Coulter and Michelle Goldsworthy

Some important changes have been underway for funding of autism and behavioural services in Ontario. In March 2016, the province announced the creation of the new Ontario Autism Program, which

  • ”will provide all children, regardless of age, with more flexible services based on each child’s individual needs;
  • significantly reduce wait times for therapy;
  • deliver diagnosis earlier in the child’s development; and,
  • increase the number of treatment spaces available to serve more children and accommodate the rising prevalence in autism diagnoses” (Government of Ontario, 2016).

The new Ontario Autism Program will begin in June 2017; one year ahead of the scheduled plan. Currently, the Ontario Budget invests $190 million to autism services for children and youth annually. The 2016 Ontario Budget committed to an additional $333 million over five years for the new Ontario Autism Program, and in June announced that there will be an additional $200 million invested over four years for additional supports for this population.

In his June 28th 2016 statement, the Minister of Children and Youth Services, Michael Coteau, reported that children will get the services they need, and that decisions about service reduction will be determined based on those needs.

The new Ontario Autism Program will provide one entry point for autism and behavioural services for all children with autism, regardless of age. The child will be assessed when they enter the program, and receive supports that are based on their individual needs.

Children who are five years old or older, who are currently receiving Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) services, will continue to receive those services until their 6-month clinical IBI progress assessment, at which time their Autism Intervention Program service provider will develop an individual service plan that will bridge the child into the new Ontario Autism Program.

Children who are on the IBI waitlist and are five years old, or turning five years old, will be transitioned off the waitlist, and receive direct funding/a lump-sum payment to purchase eligible community services and the option to receive additional successive payments of $10,000 per child or priority access to ABA services and supports until the child secures a spot in the new Ontario Autism Program that comes into effect in June 2017. If you have a child who is five years old or older and applying for IBI, you will apply for the new Ontario Autism Program, which will deliver individualized treatment.

For more information on what this means for your child and family, visit the Ontario Autism Program website here, or review this “Transition to the New Ontario Autism Program” flyer.

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