The Ontario parents and advocates who came together in Queen’s Park last week to protest against the Progressive Conservative Government’s changes to the autism program got some good news today. Education Minister Lisa Thompson announced that school boards will now receive an average of $12,300 for each new student on the autism spectrum. The government will also be fully subsidizing a qualification course for teachers.
The increase in funding and resources for children with autism entering the school system comes after a band of protesters raised awareness about the recent charges to the program. Ford’s government had previously announced that it would be clearing a waiting list of 23,000 kids by dividing the money raised for them and spreading it across all of the children diagnosed with autism, axing the possibility of a fully-funded treatment for each child.
As a result of the changes, families will now receive $20,000 for children under the age of six and a mere $5,000 for those above that age range. The cuts infuriated parents who perhaps knew from experience that intensive autism therapy could sometimes cost upwards of $80,000.
The consolidation of the treatment funding meant that families of over 8,000 children with autism would no longer be able to afford proper care. Both full time and part time treatment programs would be financially unavailable to most children on the spectrum.
Signs at the autism protest at Queens Park. pic.twitter.com/0MjdPgXzPE
This latest development out of Ottawa might not be exactly what the families had hoped for, but it is undoubtedly a significant improvement. Children with autism entering the school system will now be able to attend after-school skills development, a brand-new project that will be expanded to all 72 school boards.