Day 177: The confusing mess of multiple Ontario Autism Programs

Existing Liberal System(s) — DSO and DFO — 2016 to Present

  1. Waitlists were (and continue to be) long.
  2. The range of options for children was limited.
  3. Arguably (depending on who you ask), the DSO system had inefficiencies and was expensive.

Conservative System I — Introduced Feb. 6 2019, Killed Mar. 21 2019. Never implemented.

  1. Waitlists would be (eventually) eliminated entirely, because every child would receive a cheque instead. Of course, there was no relationship whatsoever between the size of the cheque and a child’s needs. Even the largest cheques would only cover a small percentage of full-time ABA. Furthermore, there was no guarantee that there would be services available for purchase.
  2. There would be an increased number of options, though the Conservatives were not specific about what these would be.
  3. The plan, had it been fully implemented, would have killed DSO entirely and would be a significantly altered version of the DFO system. Because of the widened range of options for Childhood Budgets, parents (and service providers and analysts) wondered if parents would be forced to pay income tax on those Childhood Budgets, a question which still has not been answered.

Conservative System II — Introduced Mar. 21, 2019, Became Live on Apr. 1, 2019, First Childhood Budgets Received June 2019. Currently Live.

  1. The autism tax is dead. The government has eliminated the income test, which was full of all kinds of unintended consequences.
  2. Eliminating the income test makes this program more expensive. Under the previous proposal, I couldn’t see any possible way the government was going to spend all of their 321M a year target. Now they might.
  3. The 20K/5K model remains. Or maybe it doesn’t. The size of the Childhood Budget is still apparently determined by the age of diagnosis of the child, with ages 2–5 having 20K/yr flow into the budget and ages 6–17 having 5K/yr flow into the budget.
  4. The government has increased the range of available services, but we still don’t know the full list. “Through Childhood Budgets, families will have access to a broader range of eligible services, such as speech language pathology, physiotherapy, and occupational therapy. Full details on eligible services will be posted on the ministry’s website in early April.”

Conservative System III— Introduced Mar. 21, 2019, Killed Jul. 29, 2019. Never Implemented.

Conservative System IV— Introduced Jul. 29 2019, Details to be Released in Fall 2019. Planned Launch Date: April 2020.

Where we are now: A summary

  • Most children currently receiving support are receiving DFO or DSO.
  • The Conservatives admit that their own Conservative System II was a failure, but instead of immediately scrapping it and putting more children into DFO and DSO, they will keep it live until April 2020.
  • I showed back in May why Conservative System II was such a waste, now we’re seeing it first hand. One child, with no current clinical need, just received a cheque for $20,000 while so many other kids, including the brother of that child, go without.
  • Parents don’t understand the live Conservative System II and are worried that if they accept it, they will get retroactive tax bills, get audited, or be put at the bottom-of the waiting list for the April 2020 Conservative System IV. As it currently stands,“ [a]fter receiving a Childhood Budget application letter, the percentage of people who actually applied is somewhere in the 20–25% range.” Parents are loudly and clearly rejecting the system because they don’t understand it and there’s too much risk.
  • We have no idea what the transition will look like from Liberal DFO, DSO and Conservative System II to Conservative System IV and parents under those systems are worried they will go to the bottom of the waiting list during the transition.
  • We know almost nothing about Conservative System IV, other than it’s “needs based” and has $20 million less allocated to it than Conservative System III did.




Senior Director, Smart Prosperity. Assistant Prof, Ivey Business School. Exhausted but happy Dad of 2 wonderful kids with autism. I used to do other stuff.

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Mike Moffatt

Mike Moffatt

Senior Director, Smart Prosperity. Assistant Prof, Ivey Business School. Exhausted but happy Dad of 2 wonderful kids with autism. I used to do other stuff.

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