The Ford government and the Ontario Association of Optometrists are in a standoff right now, and a big reason is that both sides have much different opinions on what they consider to be “fair and reasonable.”

As a quick primer, here’s the eye care services that are covered by OHIP, as seen here in this Ministry fact sheet:

Kids, seniors, and some adults are typically “covered” by OHIP for their exams.

I use the quotes, though, because the amount that the government reimburses an optometry office is not even close to the cost needed to provide that service.

Those OHIP…

It’s nearing 2 years since former minister Todd Smith received the OAP Advisory Panel Report to help redesign the autism program … the program that Lisa MacLeod completely destroyed in the PC government’s first crack at an overhaul back in February 2019. MacLeod was demoted in June 2019.

Smith moved with zero sense of urgency, and failed to deliver a functioning program during his tenure. He was shuffled away in June 2021.

Now we have another new minister, and no clear timeline on when we may see real progress. Minister Fullerton also seems wholly uniformed about the program.

I’m here…

A poster you’re likely to see up in every optometrist office in Ontario right now

The Ontario Association of Optometrists has recently launched a campaign to help push the provincial government to fix a big issue that’s been brewing for decades.

For some context, if you go to the government website discussing OHIP coverage for optometry, look at the first sentence:

With consultations well underway, I wanted to put together a brief version of what I believe a National Autism Strategy could look like.

Canada’s Next Step March in Ottawa, March 31st 2019, calling for a National Autism Strategy

In February of last year I wrote a piece about how I thought the National Dementia Strategy looked to be a model of what we might expect from the autism strategy.

There‘s clearly a similar process: A government-recognized plan to create a strategy, the formation of an advisory group to guide the process, a consultation period, a budget commitment, and then the creation of a report that will ultimately inform the strategy.

From the “What We Heard…

CAHS Consultation Plan

The consultation process for the National Autism Strategy is underway, and I’m going to take you through what’s happening, and how you can get involved.


It was in late 2019 that the federal government officially committed to developing and implementing a National Autism Strategy.

In Minister of Health Patty Hajdu’s mandate letter we saw the following:

“Work collaboratively with provinces, territories, families and stakeholders toward the creation of a national autism strategy”

The Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, also had this in hers:

“Support the Minister of Health toward the creation of a national autism…

Invitation emails for the new core services pillar of the program finally started to go out yesterday (March 19th, 2021), beginning the first phase in the launch of core services (or at least the pilot program).

Did the Ministry make any kind of announcement to share this information?

Of course not.

This was only discovered by families sharing this information with each other.

Minister Todd Smith announced way back on February 3rd, 2021 that:

“ … approximately 600 children and youth from across the province, who represent a diverse sample of Ontario Autism Program registrants, will be invited to participate…

On the 15th of every month a new set of numbers gets posted on the ministry website in a section titled “Information about the waitlist.”

Screenshot from the OAP website

If you click on the “monthly numbers “ link, it gives you this:

With the latest announcement from Minister Todd Smith, we know a little more about how core services are going to work in the autism program, as well as their plan to offer more interim funding while they slowly roll out the new program.

It’s time to estimate how much they’re going to spend (or more likely, under spend) this coming fiscal year.

How has the funding changed through the years?

This becomes easy to do thanks to the latest FAO report on Autism Services.

Source: 2020 FAO report on Autism Services

The program has been in a constant state of flux lately, and the spending profile has changed right alongside it.

In the 2015/16 year…

After taking some time to digest the information from Todd Smith’s latest announcement, it’s time to dive in and see if there was enough in there to work with.

Here were the key pieces to the announcement:

  • 600 kids to be invited into a pilot program to test out the new needs assessment tool for core services. It will include various ages, regions, and funding situations. It’s not clear how those kids will be chosen.

“The feedback from families on their experience will be critical in helping the province evaluate and refine delivery of the program.”

  • Renewal of Interim…

Minister Todd Smith, from his Oct 2020 program update video

If we look back to when Minister Todd Smith received the OAP Advisory report on Oct 30th 2019, he said:

“I am confident the panel’s recommendations will serve as a strong foundation for the new Ontario Autism Program. Implementation of the new program is planned for April 2020.”

Well, that didn’t happen.

Just 6–7 weeks later, the Minister announced that the program would be delayed.

The first phase of implementation will begin in April 2020, to be followed by additional phases throughout 2020 and 2021.

The current “program” is a messy patchwork of previous failures and current half-measures, with very…

Patrick Monaghan

Dad to 2 kids on the spectrum. Autism Advocate.

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