Parents of children with autism are taking to the front lawn of the Ontario legislature today to protest a decision to defund intensive therapy for children five and older.
The Liberal government recently announced a new Ontario Autism Program with $333-million in funding, which will integrate Intensive Behavioural Intervention and Applied Behavioural Analysis therapies, currently in two separate streams, into a flexible service.
But the changes include limiting IBI to children between two and four, which the government says is based on expert advice, to focus on children in that developmental window.
The government says 16,000 more children will receive services – mostly ABA – and that IBI wait times will go down, but parents say that comes at the expense of children who are or will soon be five years old.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says the government needs to take a step back and listen to the concerns being raised, not just from parents, but from school board associations and other groups.
Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown says as public knowledge grows about this situation, the government will feel increasing pressure to back down on the changes.