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Wynne leaves door open to changing implementation of Ontario Autism Program

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne makes an announcement in Kingston, Ont., on March 31, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg

TORONTO — Premier Kathleen Wynne is leaving the door slightly open to changing the way the Ontario government implements its controversial new autism program.

The Liberal government recently announced a new Ontario Autism Program with $333 million in funding, which will ultimately integrate Intensive Behavioural Intervention and Applied Behavioural Analysis therapies, currently in two separate streams, into a flexible service they’re calling enhanced ABA.

But the changes include limiting IBI to children between two and four, as the government says expert advice is to focus on children in that developmental window.

READ MORE: Parents protest changes to Ontario autism funding at legislature

Parents of kids who are removed from the IBI wait list because of those changes are getting $8,000 to pay for private treatment ahead of the new program’s full rollout in 2018, but parents say that will only pay for a few months of intensive therapy.

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Wynne says parents have told her they would benefit from more direct funding, and she says “absolutely there is room to consider” how the best and individual services are provided to children.

The government says its new program will mean 16,000 more children will receive services – mostly ABA – and that IBI wait times will go from a current average of 2 1/2 years to six months by 2021.

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