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A win-lose situation with autism changes

(Cartoon by George Longley)

When it comes to political decisions, there are always winners and losers.

Regarding the PC government’s announced changes for funding of autism services in Ontario, nothing could be further from the truth.

The reality is that when financial decisions are made that affect the care of children, there will always be winners and losers. So, while some will benefit from this restructured funding for autism, it will come as a loss for others.

On the positive, if everything goes as planned, the massive list of 23,000 children awaiting services will drop drastically in the next year-and-a-half.

But on the negative, some argue the approximately 9,000 children who are receiving services could possibly see their care reduced.

Instead of doling out funding to regional service providers such as Grandview Children’s Centre, money will now go directly to families.

But there are a few catches.

How much a child receives will depend on when they begin getting services, as well as their family’s income. Households with incomes more than $250,000 a year will no longer be eligible to receive funding.

While this may seem acceptable to some, depending on the severity of a child’s autism and their needs, a family could realistically spend a quarter to half of their total income on services.

And with the funding changes, caregivers will have to be more selective of which services they want to receive.

The Conservatives are also doubling funding for autistic diagnostic hubs, which may see children move through the system faster.

Eliminating the long wait list for children is a positive first step for the government to take, and yes, some families will be making a sacrifice for the benefit of the others. Unfortunately, it’s a hard fact of life.

Hopefully, this will begin to level the playing field for some and in time work towards a way to find more money to fund this cause and all of the others that are ailing our children in this cash strapped province.