Quebec to spend $29M on new autism strategy
Published Tuesday, March 21, 2017 7:48AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, March 21, 2017 6:55PM EDT
Quebec will spend $29 million from 2017 to 2022 on its action plan on Autism Spectrum Disorder.
The government said it hopes, in particular, to reduce waiting lists for certain services, including specialized therapy for young children with autism, by 45 per cent.
Quebec Public Health Minister Lucie Charlebois said 39 measures will allow 500 more Quebec children with autism to receive early treatment, adding that 700 are currently on a waiting list.
Quebec will earmark $11.2 million of the funding into early therapy.
Here's how the investment will break down by age group:
- 0-5 years: $11.2M for increase in rehabilitation services and intensive behavioural intervention
- 6-18 years: $5M for increase in adaptation services
- 18 years and older: $3M for increase of socioprofessional, community and rehabilitation services
All ages: - $3.8M for creation of new respite spaces and financial support for families
- $6M for specialized support for people in their living environment and for the development of residential services
An additional $1.25 million will go to research, training and producing autism intervention tools.
The announcement was made Tuesday morning by Charlebois, Health Minister Gaétan Barrette and Education Minister Sébastien Proulx.
The English Montreal School Board hopes it will mean less children entering elementary school undiagnosed.
"Because sometimes they age out before they even reach school, and then we're left having to do the diagnosis for these children," said Joanne Charrone of the EMSB.
Parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder have long been fighting for a plan; they say their children face unacceptable wait times in order to be diagnosed and to begin receiving treatment.
"It's going to be a challenge. It's a lot of children to integrate into the system," said Warren Greenstone of the Myriam Foundation.
Pressure has been put on the government by parent groups like Autism Alliance of Quebec, who are fighting for better services for their children.
They say the wait time for Applied Behaviour Analysis is unacceptably long, and that many families that are paying for private therapy instead of waiting for government help.
The Coalition said they want the government to speed up diagnosis and treatment.
"We're fed up. We're tired of being ignored and treated like third-class citizens and especially our children being ignored and slipped through the cracks," said Tina Chapman, who co-founded the Autism Alliance of Quebec, in an interview last month.
Her son was diagnosed with autism at age three but was only eligible for government-funded treatment a year later. At age five, he is no longer eligible.
Charlebois was supposed to have an action plan for autism prepared three months ago, and apologized last month for not yet completing the task.
"You're going to see what's going to be in it and you're going to be surprised. It will be a good plan," said Charlebois at the time.
Last year, Charlebois organized a forum with autism experts to discuss priorities and goals for the government's plan.