Pretty sure this takes the award for most honest thing to come out of Queen’s Park in the last year. Ford government deliberately spread misinformation about autism program, internal review says
The report, written by one of the government’s own members and obtained by The Globe and Mail through an anonymous source, is highly critical of the funding model for autism services developed by the Progressive Conservatives. It says that repeated assertions made by the government, including former community and social services minister Lisa MacLeod, that 23,000 children were on a list waiting for services was “unverified and is likely inaccurate.”
“This has been the toughest and most damaging file of our first year in office. Regretfully, to add fuel to the fire, our tone has been less than ideal. We are talking about children and families in need,” said the report, prepared by Toronto-area MPP Roman Baber.
“In my respectful opinion, a full reset is required, including a retreat from the February/March Plan to a needs based plan, predicated on accurate and non-confrontational messaging.”
Among his recommendations, Mr. Baber suggested a needs-based program to “treat as many children as possible given the capacity and monetary limitations of the program.” He also recommended that a prerequisite of funding would be a diagnosis by a developmental pediatrician or clinical child psychologist, not a family doctor, and that funding be capped at 30 hours a week.
The report says the government’s initial changes “resulted in absurdity.”
It says the previous funding cap of $5,000 a year for children who are 6 and older means “most families of children with [a] moderate to severe diagnosis would be destitute.”
In his report, Mr. Baber said the government’s messaging about the waiting list and spending on the autism program was “inaccurate.”
“I am prepared to elaborate upon request,” he stated in the report.
“There is no one wait list – that is a fiction,” he wrote.
He said the waiting list is really a combination of at least a dozen lists that the ministry compiled from regional providers of autism services.
“It is incorrect to say that 23,000 kids are languishing without treatment,” he wrote, adding that families have registered their children with more than one service provider or could be back on the waiting list after receiving a block of therapy.
“You can never clear the wait list,” Mr. Baber wrote, noting that every year more children become eligible for the autism services.
The government, of course, is not changing its tune in light of all of this logic and reason.
In a statement, Doug Ford said that now former minister in charge of this shitshow Lisa MacLeod’s work on this issue had his full support (remind me to start worrying if Doug Ford ever says I’m doing a fine job) plus through out that fake number again. PC spokesperson Kayla Iafelice also took the opportunity to make it clear that we can’t hear you tra la la la la, but you can feel free to keep talking if you’d like.
Kayla Iafelice, a spokeswoman for the Premier’s Office, said Mr. Baber’s suggestions are welcomed but the government’s plan will follow the advice of experts in the field. “The fact this report exists is yet another example of the Premier creating a culture of support and openness within caucus. The Premier encourages members of caucus to share their views and opinions on any topic at any time.”
She said public consultations, along with the panel, will help the government find the best way to allocate funding for needs-based support.
So they’re probably not done messing this up just yet, but it is at least somewhat heartening in the bigger picture to hear that people are still willing to speak up and say hard things that need to be heard.