Ontario Helping More Families with Autism in Durham Region

 Will clear waitlist for autism services and provide direct financial supports for Ontario families of 23,000 children previously denied funding in Ontario Autism Program 

Bowmanville, ON – On Wednesday, February 6, Ontario’s government for the people announced it is bringing relief to 23,000 children and their families across Ontario, including in Durham Region, who are currently on a waitlist for autism services. 

In an announcement at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Parliamentary Assistant Amy Fee and Minister of Children, Community and Social Services Lisa MacLeod outlined the reforms to the Ontario Autism Program that will restore fairness, equality, and sustainability to the program. 

“Thank you, Lisa MacLeod, and your team [for] the recent changes [to] the Ontario Autism Program. I am truly grateful to any financial help the government could provide us with instead of sitting endless years on a waitlist,” said a Bowmanville mother of a 2-year-old seeking to access support. “I hope to continue to see more improvements and changes over the next few years but my family thanks you for getting some help for my two-year-old today.” 

The government’s proposed reforms will clear the waitlist for funding in 18 months. It will ensure people are treated with fairness and equality while making the system financially sustainable, accountable and guaranteeing that support is there for families with the greatest needs, now and well into the future. 

“For too long, many children requiring care have languished on waitlists. Our government is committed to ending that practice, and putting children first to ensure that our system is fair, accountable and sustainable,” said MPP Peter Bethlenfalvy. “We will make sure communities across the province, including Pickering-Uxbridge, get access to the care they need – when they need it.” 

“My motivation is to ensure every family in Durham who needs support for their child with autism, gets support. No child should have to age-out of the Ontario Autism Program on a waitlist. No family in need should have to wait years on end for such critical support. Our government is changing that,” said Lindsey Park, MPP for Durham. 

These changes will increase program access and ensure that every child will receive assistance. 

With the proposed changes, families may receive a Childhood Budget until their child turns 18. Supports will be targeted to lower and middle-income families. The amount of the budget will depend on the length of time a child will be in the program. For example, a child entering the program at age two would be eligible to receive up to $140,000, while a child entering the program at age seven would receive up to $55,000. 

Whitby MPP Lorne Coe said, “I am encouraged that at long last, the issue of wait lists, for those dealing with autism in their families, is being addressed. We are a Government for all of the people, not some of the people, and it’s time to end the wait for those who have languished for so long, without treatment.” 

“The reform of the Ontario Autism Program will bring equality and sustainability to autism services. Our Government has listened to the more than 23,000 families who are waiting for treatment, bringing them off a lengthy, unfair waitlist to get the right diagnosis and support for their children,” said Ajax-Pickering MPP Rod Phillips. 

“The Ontario government invests $321 million dollars each year in autism supports that under the current system leave three out of four children behind,” said Macleod. “I cannot in good conscience continue this Liberal plan that was more about politics than the people it should be supporting.” 


1. To be eligible for the Ontario Autism Program, a child must have a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder from a qualified professional. Families are eligible to apply for program funding for children and youth up to age 18. 

2. Today, there are over 2,400 families waiting for a diagnostic assessment, and more than 23,000 families waiting for behavioural services through the Ontario Autism Program with demand continuing to grow. 

3. Evidence shows that children who receive behavioural intervention therapies between two and five years of age have the best long-term outcomes. 


Helping Families by Improving Access to Autism Services 


Media Contacts

Rachel Strong

Office of Peter Bethlenfalvy

MPP, Pickering – Uxbridge



Kristen Cucan

Office of Lindsey Park

MPP, Durham



Rob Morton

Office of Lorne Coe

MPP, Whitby



Andrew Brander

Office of Rod Phillips

MPP, Ajax