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Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, responds to a question on changes to Ontario's autism program at Queen's Park in Toronto on March 21, 2019.

Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press

Ontario’s Social Services Minister says her redesigned autism program will cost at least $600-million per year.

That’s a significant increase from the current $321-million budget.

Lisa MacLeod announced changes last week to the autism program, after parents protesting her original plan said it would leave kids without access to the levels of therapy they need.

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Parents said that by making funding for therapy dependent only on a child’s age and family income, the program was ignoring that autism is a spectrum disorder, and children have vastly different needs.

Ms. MacLeod announced last week that she was eliminating income testing and will explore how the program can provide additional supports to families based on need.

Those changes are expected to bring significant costs, and Ms. MacLeod has said this week in the legislature that the government will ultimately spend over $600-million and up to double the current budget.

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