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Ottawa parents upset by changes to Ontario autism program funding

Parents gathered outside MPP Lisa MacLeod's office in Nepean to protest the new funding plan.

Ontario is overhauling its autism program to clear a wait list of 23,000 children, but families are worried the new funding is going into the wrong hands. 

The current plan saw funding go to regional service providers, who could provide therapy for children on the spectrum. 

The new Conservative plan will see funding going directly into the pockets of the parents.

Families will receive up to $20,000 a year until their child turns six. From that time until they are 18 it would be $5,000 a year. The maximum allowed will be $140,000, but Scott Corbett tells 1310NEWS that's nowhere near enough. 

"Somebody who needs full-time therapy costs over $8,000 a month." he said.

He was one of about 50 parents protesting outside Children, Community and Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod's Constituency Office in Nepean.

Corbett has two children, Sam is 12 and Will is 9 and says the new changes to the funding plan shows the Ford government doesn't care about the needs of children.

"For somebody who's over 6-years old, $5,000 would get you about two weeks of therapy and then what would you do the rest of the year?" he said

While the wait lists are expecting to be reduced, a behavioural scientist says it will have unintended consequences. Louis Busch drove from Toronto to take part in the protest and says Ontario schools will face an influx of 8,000 students, and they are not prepared for it.

"There may be kids who don't have basic communication skills, may not have toileting ability, don't have safety skills or may run into the road, and the school system in Ontario is not prepared for that. They're already expelling kids with autism and disabilities and it's going to be a complete train wreck." Busch said.

Busch says he works with adults who have been failed by the system, and in 10-20 years, he says current kids who don't learn safety skills will end up as locked in patients or end up in homeless shelters.

The current funding cycle will run out on March 31.

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