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Update from the Ontario Autism Program Advisory Panel Co-Chairs

October 8, 2019

We believe all Ontarians stand with the families of children and youth on the autism spectrum and their right to receive the highest quality care and treatment.

In spring 2019, the Ontario government engaged in a province-wide public consultation process and appointed a new 20-member Ontario Autism Program Advisory Panel. This Panel, which we co-chaired, was comprised of parents with lived experience, autistic adults and experts from a range of disciplines like psychology, behaviour analysis, rehabilitation services, education, developmental pediatrics and research. We met for 17-full days over the summer months.

Our panel was tasked with providing recommendations to the government on the design of a needs-based, sustainable Ontario Autism Program that serves as many children as possible within the increased $600-million funding envelope.

There has been a tremendous amount of work completed by the panel to date. Our meeting summaries only scratch the surface when it comes to the depth and length of our conversations and deliberations over the past several months. Thank you to the Autism Spectrum Disorder community, including Northern Ontario providers, Indigenous partners and political representatives, families and other experts for submitting reports and recommendations for the consideration of the panel. Countless hours were spent reviewing and discussing your material, and our recommendations will reflect this.

While our regularly scheduled panel meetings have concluded, we wanted to take this opportunity to update the community on our work. Our panel is in the drafting phase of our final report. While our work is taking slightly longer than expected, it is imperative that we, as a panel, take the time we need to make informed recommendations to the Minister for a sustainable program that meets the needs of children and youth on the autism spectrum and their families.

We are working tirelessly to finalize our set of recommendations by the end of this month, so the report may be presented to the Minister by early November at the very latest. This will allow for the government to consider our recommendations while moving forward with the re-design and implementation of the new needs-based, sustainable Ontario Autism Program.

It has been our honour and our privilege to lead the work of the Ontario Autism Program Advisory Panel. We applaud the government for inviting members of the ASD community to not only sit at the table but be avid participants in the redesign.

We look forward to submitting our recommendations for a needs-based, sustainable Ontario Autism Program that supports as many children and families as possible.

Your Co-Chairs,

Margaret Spoelstra & Marie Bountrogianni