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Autism Program at CHEO

On the heels of the Minister’s announcement about the new changes to the Ontario Autism Program, we will post regular updates here so that families in particular know what to expect – and how to contribute – as it relates to the redesign of the CHEO’s Autism Program.

March 21, 2019 

Today, the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS) made the following announcement: “Ontario enhancing support for children with autism.” These are significant changes to their plan announced on February 6. The ministry will soon be issuing directions to regional autism providers like CHEO regarding next steps. We know that families are trying to make plans for the coming months so it is our intention to announce our spring and summer programs as soon as the ministry provides more details about the changes announced today.

According to today’s news, families currently in-service will be eligible for extended services. If you are currently in-service, please contact your family support worker next week as by then we’ll have more information from the ministry about this to support you.  

March 13, 2019

We have been advised by the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS) that they will shortly be providing information packages to families‎ about childhood budgets and will begin to transition to the new model of funding for the OAP. 

While CHEO will continue its role providing diagnoses through the diagnostic hub, in the new system CHEO is being removed from its previous responsibility of managing the referral process and waitlist for the Ontario Autism Program. Therefore, the information package will include details on how to register for the new program. We are here to support you through this process.

Meanwhile, CHEO is negotiating with MCCSS regarding our 2019-20 budget and performance obligations. Throughout this process, we continue to advocate for increased funding and support for kids with ASD and their families. By April 1, we expect to be in a position to announce our Autism Program’s service offerings for spring and summer. We recognize that this transition period is very difficult for families and will do everything we can to support you.

After April, we will begin the process of working with families, staff and the community to co-design CHEO’s longer-term service offerings. If you would like to be involved in these discussions, please email

February 26, 2019

The Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services informed us that they've updated their website to include more detailed information about the childhood budget and the income test.

February 25, 2019

Today, the Deputy Minister of Children, Community and Social Services issued a statement to clarify its instructions to autism agencies in October 2018. It is common practice to receive a directive from the government about the autism program. Last fall and again today, the government identified which children can access evidence-based behavioural services (priority groups). This directive will change, yet again, with the rollout of the new OAP after April 1, 2019. While CHEO does not make any of the decisions that lead to access challenges in the OAP, we do have to explain the Ministry's directives to families. If in attempt to explain the government's directives, we have contributed to a family's frustration about their situation - we apologize. Our only goal is to support families as best we can within the parameters we are given.

February 13, 2019

CHEO leadership reached out to the Autism Family Advisory Committee to indicate that family consultations will be integral to help reshape our program in the current environment. We will share more information about opportunities to share public feedback about our programs, after we learn more information from the Ministry.

February 7, 2019

CHEO leadership met with staff to indicate that our delivery model for offering behavioural interventions needs to change to fit within the government’s new parameters. We don’t have the answers about what this will look like, yet. We have been told by the government that 2019-2020 is a phase-in year although we do not yet have the details of what that means or how it will work. We have been advocating to the Ministry for high-quality, evidence-based autism services.

In-service families

CHEO staff are sharing the government’s FAQs (frequently asked questions) with families currently in service. More information is found here.

Operational planning for CHEO’s diagnostic hub

We are pleased to receive funding to expand the regional diagnostic hub for Eastern Ontario that we manage, which covers a large area from Oshawa to Hawkesbury. Based on direction from the Ministry, we are already working with our partners including Kids Inclusive (Kingston) Quinte Children’s Centre (Belleville), Five Counties (Peterborough) and Grandview Kids (Oshawa) to ramp-up diagnoses across the region. More details to follow.

Operational planning for autism behavioural intervention services and supports (2019-20 and 2020-21)

We have not begun detailed operational planning yet, as we are still awaiting more information and guidance from the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services. We expect to meet soon with its Regional Office to understand what’s next for CHEO in particular.

February 6, 2019

In response to the news, our CEO provided the following statement about the investment in diagnostic hubs, “At CHEO, we’ve worked hard to cut the wait for an autism diagnosis from well over a year to 24 weeks. With today’s announcement, we will be able to further speed up diagnosis.” With respect to the announcement, Alex Munter said, “We look forward to working with Minister MacLeod, families and our staff to see how CHEO can be part of the new provincial autism strategy.”

More updates to follow as information is available. Please bookmark this page for future reference.

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