Monique Taylor MPP, Hamilton Mountain

Government of Ontario

Taylor: Yet again Doug Ford has broken the trust of families of children with autism

Published on January 5, 2021

HAMILTON – Monique Taylor (Hamilton Mountain), the Official Opposition critic for Children and Youth Services, says new information from the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services shows that Ministry-hired coordinators, not qualified clinicians, will be deciding whether children with autism get the services they need.
“Yet again, Doug Ford has broken the trust of families desperately waiting for a needs-based Ontario Autism Program,” said Taylor. “Ford’s own advisory panel recommended that clinicians determine the services that children receive, based on their professional assessment of a child’s needs, not administrators working off one-size-fits-all benchmarks.
“Clinicians – not bureaucrats – must decide what services a child needs. Families deserve an autism program based on clinical expertise that is actually responsive to children’s needs,” said Taylor. 
The new information was released as part of a Request for Proposals (RFP) process to hire an external organization to manage intake for the program. The Ministry’s document specifies that “care coordinators” will determine the needs of the child and corresponding funding allocation. The document also states that RFP applicants should budget for only one day of training for care coordinators.

“It’s been over a year since Minister Todd Smith announced a needs-based autism program, and nearly two years since the Ford government dismantled the old autism program without replacing it. Since then, children have been forced to wait to access services that meet their needs, and parents are watching the developmental potential of their children slip away, day after day, while they wait,” said Taylor.

Nancy Silva-Khan, a mother of twins with autism
“I am disillusioned and heartbroken that all the work we did in 2016 fighting the Liberal benchmark system feels like it was for nothing. It is especially disappointing after waiting all this time for information about the development of the new Ontario Autism Program.”
Amanda Mooyer, a mother of two children with autism
“Goal setting is extremely beneficial for children receiving therapy, but only when those goals are tailored to their needs. Implementing a program with benchmarks will strip our children of adequate and individualized learning plans. All children will be given a one-size-fits-all plan based on a checklist created by bureaucrats, not experts. These clinical decisions need to be made by experienced and qualified clinicians, not by bureaucrats, and should be based on assessments based on scientific evidence. Only they will be able to properly assess our children. Benchmarks are not what we advocated for. Benchmarks are not needs-based. Benchmarks will fail our children, just like they failed all those children in the past.”