Children, Community, and Social Services Minister Todd Smith faced backlash this Tuesday after he announced the Ontario government would be delaying its need-based autism program. The program, which was initially supposed to be up and running by April, will now be phased in slowly over the next two years.

“We heard loud and clear from the autism community that we needed to partner and redesign a program together - one that supports the needs of individual children and youth and puts them at the centre of care,” explained Smith in a statement.

“The changes we are making address the concerns we’ve heard from families, experts, and the autism advisory panel.”

According to Global News, the announcement caused a group of parents, who were watching the speech, to burst into tears with some of holding onto pictures of their children with autism as they began weeping and saying it's “not good enough.”

Despite the emotional reaction, Minister Smith continued to present key elements of the new program, which include a broad range of services that will eventually offer families more supports for their children’s specific needs.

The Minister also adhered to the panel’s recommendation for an implementation team by announcing the creation of an Implementation Working Group to help provide the government with input on several key design elements.

“Almost every parent I’ve met has asked for two things: services that address their child’s specific needs, and a plan from their government to get there,” added Smith.

“The work has started, and we are continuing to listen to experts and families. Thanks to the panel, we know where we have to go. And we have the right plan and the right people to help get us there."

Of course, some Twitter users have taken to the platform to express their concerns over the changes, despite the government's reassurance. 

One user even stating, "Absolutely atrocious. The Ontario government has screwed Ontario on so many levels." 

Ford’s government faced nearly six months of protests after unveiling their first changes to the autism program, which they overhauled back in July.

The previous version faced controversy after it was revealed that it would leave thousands of children who rely on the program without proper support.


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