This past week Minister Smith met with several families in northern Ontario to learn about their unique service needs. I appreciate the Minister taking the time to hear directly from families and for accepting my invitation to meet so that CCR could communicate your concerns and offer innovative solutions for the new Ontario Autism Program.
It is essential that we work together with the Province to ensure families have access to service in their home community and that we retain the talent in the North.

During the round table discussions, Minister Smith confirmed that childhood budgets will cease to exist beyond April 2020. He also confirmed that the North will require both a private and public option to ensure all families have access to quality service.
Minister Smith also committed to working with the Provincial Advisory Panel to ensure that the needs, concerns and solutions for northern families are clearly articulated and considered in the new program design.
Thank you to our parents for your tireless advocacy and to our community partners for your partnership and support.

At each session, families expressed the importance of ensuring the following:

  • stronger and diverse northern voice to support the Provincial Advisory Committee in designing a program for all children
  • commitment to ensure francophone services are available and accessible
  • support capacity-building initiatives to ensure families have access to skilled professionals in all communities (including rural and remote)
  • commitment to work with education and health to ensure therapists can work within school and childcare settings when required
  • to increase collaboration amongst health, education, developmental and behavioural service providers to ensure all children have a comprehensive plan
  • to honour the commitment of working as one Ministry towards a life span approach for children, youth, adults
  • to increase the dialogue and transparency related to communication, specifically updates or minutes from the Provincial Advisory Committee

Minister Smith committed to announcing the outcome of the Provincial Advisory Committee in October or November. We will proactively communicate any updates in the interim and keep expressing your concerns, hopes and needs for the new Ontario Autism Program.

We encourage Minister Smith to continue the dialogue with families and CCR to leverage the innovative, collaborative spirit of northern Ontario.

Sherry Fournier
Executive Director
Child & Community Resources