TORONTO — Ontario is putting children, youth and vulnerable people first by strengthening the oversight of behavioural clinicians who provide Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), a therapy that primarily supports people with autism. As recommended by experts and supported by families, regulation of ABA behavioural clinicians will set standard expectations for quality therapy across the province. Consultations on how best to implement regulation are set to begin this fall.

“We are acting on the clear direction we’ve received from experts and families of children with autism,” said Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. “Across Ontario, hundreds of men and women go to work every day to help children and youth. Our commitment is that behavioural clinicians will be regulated like other health professionals.”

ABA therapy helps people with autism develop new life skills, communications skills and social skills. By improving oversight of ABA clinicians, the government is taking further action to improve outcomes for children and youth with autism and others receiving this type of therapy. Helping to ensure quality care from autism providers is part of Ontario’s plan to help as many families as possible through redeveloping the Ontario Autism Program.

“Parents who are choosing a behavioural clinician deserve to have peace of mind knowing they are choosing from qualified professionals,” said Smith.

The Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, will begin consultations with key stakeholders to seek feedback on the oversight framework.

Oversight and regulation of ABA behavioural clinicians will result in:

  • Consistency in ethics and professional standards to promote a higher level of trust between families and practitioners.
  • Clearly defined educational and ongoing quality assurance requirements for clinicians to improve consistency in treatment.
  • A mechanism for families to report complaints about providers to reduce the risk of harm.

“Our government is building a modern, sustainable and connected service system that supports children and youth with autism and their families,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “With the advice of key stakeholders, we are taking necessary steps to improve the care that families are receiving and ensure that they have continued confidence in their service providers.”

Quick Facts

  • Behavioural clinicians provide services to a wide range of clients, including children, youth and adults with developmental disabilities and autism, those with mental health challenges or behavioural difficulties, seniors with dementia, and those in substance abuse treatment, brain injury rehabilitation and rehabilitative programming in correctional facilities.
  • Currently, if there are issues with services, clients and families have limited mechanisms to make a complaint about a provider because the majority of clinicians are not regulated and do not have a local governing body to handle complaints or discipline.
  • The Health Professions Regulatory Advisory Council report recommends ABA providers in a clinical supervisory role be regulated as part of a health regulatory college, governed by the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991.
  • This year, Ontario is investing an additional $278 million in the province’s autism program, bringing the total amount of funding to $600 million annually.