Ontario Autism Consultations

What happens after the consultations?

The information gathered through the consultations will be reviewed by the Autism Advisory Panel. They will review the information gathered through the consultations and provide advice on developing a new needs assessment process and approach to supporting children and youth with complex needs.

Advisory Panel

The Autism Advisory Panel is made up of parents with lived experience, autistic adults, educators, and experts from a range of disciplines like psychology, behavioural analysis, rehabilitation services, developmental pediatrics and research. The panel has been asked to develop recommendations for a new, needs-based and sustainable Ontario Autism Program with the goal of helping as many children as possible. The panel is examining results from online surveys, telephone town halls and written submissions as well as considering relevant evidence, science and data to submit its advice for the end of summer. The ministry is aiming for implementation of a new program April 1, 2020.

Panel Mandate / Delivery

Mandate and Scope of Work

The Panel will be responsible for:

  • Reviewing and analyzing the results and input received from the province-wide survey of families including, caregivers of children/youth with autism, and a series of telephone town halls.
  • Providing input and advice on:
    • the development of a consistent approach to describing children’s functional abilities and needs in domains such as communication, cognition, social skills, executive functioning and self-regulation based on best practice and evidence;
    • an approach to addressing need in a consistent, transparent and cost-effective manner within the fixed envelope of funding for the OAP ($600 million with the objective of maximizing child and youth outcomes;
    • a consistent approach to determining the needs of children and youth to determine their roles, responsibilities and qualifications of clinicians and/or others conducting needs assessments; and
    • a proposed implementation approach for the above.
  • Providing advice to the ministries on how best to coordinate services and leverage investments in the OAP, education and child development sectors and health system to facilitate a child-centered approach.

Deliverables

By the end of Summer 2019, the Co-Chairs will submit to the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services a summary of their input, perspectives and advice on the design of a needs-based program that is:

  • sustainable within an annual budget of $600 million;
  • serves as many children and families as possible; and
  • aligned and coordinated with school and the health system to facilitate a child-centered approach.

The summary submitted to the Minister should be based on Panel consensus where possible. Where consensus is not achieved, this should be summarized and presented along with dissenting opinions and presented as a supplementary appendix.

Advisory Panel Meeting Summaries

June 20 & 21, 2019

The following is an overview of the discussions held during the first two in-person meetings of the Ontario Autism Program Advisory Panel:

  • The Advisory Panel Co-Chairs welcomed and thanked members for their participation.
  • Panel members introduced themselves and briefly touched on the perspectives that they bring to the Panel.
  • Members shared their individual goals, aspirations and measures of success for the work of the Panel.
  • Staff from the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services provided an overview of the orientation information distributed to members.
  • Panel members reviewed the Terms of Reference of the Panel and discussed their mandate and scope. Consideration and integration with health and education sectors was highlighted as a key concern and necessary focus of the Panel’s work.
  • The Panel reviewed the importance and expectations for confidentiality, discussed communications expectations including a process for sharing updates about the panel’s work with members’ organizations or stakeholders on a regular basis.
  • The Honourable Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, and Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues joined the first meeting, to thank members for their commitment to this work.
  • Deputy Minister Janet Menard attended part of the second meeting. She thanked the panel members for their participation, recognized the complexity of their work, and noted her interest and enthusiasm for the work ahead.
  • Over the two days, members were provided with preliminary results of consultation data which generated a robust discussion and follow-up requests for additional data. Background information on how other jurisdictions define need was shared with members.
  • Members brought their personal experiences and perspectives to an in-depth discussion on two key questions:
    • How do you define need?
    • What factors need to be considered when determining a child’s needs?
  • Members collectively took a goal-oriented and strengths-based approach to discussing need, moving away from a focus on deficits alone.
  • Members recognized that the work ahead will be complex and challenging, but acknowledged the positivity, passion and dedication of all members to the process.
  • The panel was supported by staff from the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services with representation from the ministries of Education and Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

The next Advisory Panel meetings will take place on July 4 and 5, 2019.

July 4 & 5, 2019

The following is an overview of the discussions held during the third and fourth in-person meetings of the Ontario Autism Program Advisory Panel:

  • The Honourable Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario, the Honourable Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, and the Honourable Mike Lake, Member of Parliament for Edmonton-Wetaskiwin joined the meeting briefly to greet members and thank them for their dedication to this important work.
  • Members reviewed the work plan including key design parameters and questions.
  • Members worked in small groups to revisit and validate their definition of need informed by consultation data and stakeholder submissions.
  • On the second day, staff from the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services shared foundational data regarding current and projected demand for the Ontario Autism Program.
  • Members again participated in a moderated small group exercise to test their definition of need to several case examples.

The next Advisory Panel meeting will take place on July 11, 2019.

July 11, 2019

The following is an overview of the discussions held during the fifth in-person meeting of the Ontario Autism Program Advisory Panel:

  • The Honourable Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services joined the meeting to discuss the panel’s mandate and scope of work.
  • The Minister asked the panel to provide advice on a new needs-based and sustainable Ontario Autism Program with the goal of helping as many children as possible.
  • Members noted the importance of aligning and coordinating the OAP with education and health systems to facilitate a child centered approach.
  • Members discussed their priorities for the program design work and associated critical path to accommodate the revised scope.
  • MCCSS reviewed survey results and data regarding the services and supports that families have received and/or would like to access.
  • Staff from the Child and Parent Resource Institute reviewed research and data on the range of needs of children and youth with ASD.

The next in-person Advisory Panel meeting is scheduled for July 25, 2019.

July 24 & 25, 2019

The following is an overview of the discussions held during the sixth and seventh in-person meetings of the Ontario Autism Program Advisory Panel:

  • Members revisited the measures of success they identified at their first meeting and revised, as required to use as a guide for their expanded mandate.
  • Members worked in small groups to discuss the consultation data and stakeholder submissions related to challenges in the current program. Members then identified key design priorities to address the challenges.
  • Members reviewed consultation data and jurisdictional information on the range of services and supports desired by families or currently offered. Using their shared definition of need, members began to discuss the considerations related to the range of services and supports offered through the OAP.

The next Advisory Panel meetings will take place on August 8 and 9, 2019.

August 8 & 9, 2019

The following is an overview of the discussions held during the eighth and ninth in-person meetings of the Ontario Autism Program Advisory Panel:

  • Members discussed and considered options for the eligible services and supports available through the program.
  • Members reviewed and discussed information from other jurisdictions regarding different approaches to determining need.
  • Working in small groups members began to discuss considerations related to how varying needs might be determined in the program.

The next Advisory Panel meeting will take place on August 13, 2019.

August 13, 2019

The following is an overview of the discussions held during the tenth in-person meeting of the Ontario Autism Program Advisory Panel:

  • Staff from the Ministry of Education presented information on the services and supports available for students with ASD.
  • In small groups, members continued their discussion on how varying needs might be determined in the program using client scenarios.

The next Advisory Panel meetings will take place on August 21 and 22, 2019.

August 21 & 22, 2019

The following is an overview of the discussions held during the eleventh and twelfth in-person meetings of the Ontario Autism Program Advisory Panel:

  • Members continued discussing services and supports that may be eligible through the new program and confirmed areas of consensus.
  • Staff from the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services shared several examples of needs-based funding approaches and members considered the pros and cons of those approaches.
  • Members reviewed and discussed possible recommendations for the OAP from Indigenous stakeholders, Northern, rural and remote communities, and immigrant and ESL communities.
  • Representatives from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care presented on existing mental health services for people on the autism spectrum and opportunities for integration.

The next Advisory Panel meeting will take place on August 27, 2019.

August 27, 2019

The following is an overview of the discussions held during the thirteenth in-person meeting of the Ontario Autism Program Advisory Panel:

  • Members discussed mental health services for individuals on the autism spectrum. Members considered the role of mental health services in the OAP.
  • At the request of the panel, staff from the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services presented draft program options, based on previous feedback from the Panel, to conceptualize key program design considerations and stimulate discussion.
  • Members had an in-depth discussion on program design components and discussed the benefits and risks of potential options.
  • Members agreed to continue meeting until mid-September in order to complete their work.

The next Advisory Panel meeting will take place on September 5, 2019.

September 5, 2019

The following is an overview of the discussions held during the 14th in-person meeting of the Ontario Autism Program Advisory Panel:

  • The Honourable Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health attended the meeting to thank members for their commitment to this work and welcomed input regarding mental health services for individuals on the autism spectrum.
  • Members continued their discussion on program design components from the previous meeting and discussed the benefits and risks of potential options.
  • It was confirmed by MCCSS that the final report submitted by the Panel will be released on the ministry’s website following the Minister’s review.

The next Advisory Panel meetings will take place on September 13 and 14, 2019.


Panel Co-Chairs

Panel Members

Additional Resources