ONTABA Statement regarding the Ontario Autism Program (OAP) announcement on December 17, 2019 by Minister Todd Smith from the Ministry of Children Community and Social Services (MCCSS):
The proposed phased implementation that will not take full effect until 2021 is devastating news to families and will cause many pre-school children to miss the opportunity to access evidence-based services during critical developmental periods, and will severely limit necessary treatment for older children and youth.
The Ontario Association for Behaviour Analysis (ONTABA) Board of Directors shares the concerns of families that will continue to wait for the core services (i.e., needs-based component) of the program and recognizes that the one-time payments based on age are not adequate replacements for timely evidence-based services. Capacity that has been destroyed in the sector over the past year will take time to rebuild and many children and youth will continue to be affected. Delaying implementation until 2021 and asking people to rely on insufficient childhood budgets will create tremendous stress within families unable to access treatment services at the levels required to make meaningful gains.
The interim plan creates a greater need for public protection due to the lack of commitment to needs-based evidence-based interventions. ONTABA trusts that the Ministry of Health will remain committed to public protection and ethical practice with activities such as professional regulation, which will be exceedingly important in the upcoming months. Given that childhood budgets are insufficient to support intensive behavioural intervention at levels necessary to achieve lasting results, families may settle for providers who lack the necessary education, credentials, and supervised experience. ONTABA remains committed to supporting the people and families that are seeking access to evidence-based behavioural services.
Given the enormous task at hand, ONTABA strongly encourages the Minister to appoint a panel of expert clinicians and researchers from related fields to guide the work of its proposed implementation committee. ONTABA leadership, insights and ideas have unfortunately been under-represented on the implementation working group even though 80% of parents indicated preference for ABA in online services according to the OAP advisory panel report.
The government must move with a sense of urgency to ensure greater access to evidence-based services.
ONTABA, the Ontario Association for Behaviour Analysis, is an Affiliate Chapter of the Association for Behaviour Analysis International. ONTABA currently has members from professions such as education, nursing, health care and psychology.
Fostering a culture of excellence, integrity, and expertise for the advancement and promotion of the science of behaviour analysis.
To demonstrate leadership, knowledge, and innovation in education, training, and research for the ethical and effective application of behaviour analysis.