Is MCCSS fabricating the OAP waitlist numbers?

* * Warning: There’s a decent amount of math in this one, but the result is worth the ride * *

It was back on March 15th, 2020 when the Ministry elected to change their monthly “waitlist” numbers from something like this:

Feb 15th Ministry update

… to this:

March 15th Ministry update

A little different, right?

The old format proved useful, because you could calculate the number of kids in the old version of the program (the so-called “legacy kids”).

When doing that though, it showed a concerning trend: A steady decrease, month after month.

Here’s my version of the numbers, based on the data released up until the end of January:

The waitlist didn’t go away, and fewer and fewer kids had access to needs-based ABA therapy every month.

Not a good look.

So the ministry changed their numbers release format, only sharing the current month numbers. They also chose to report the number of funding invitations, but not the number of kids who were actually receiving support.

It made the new numbers they released fairly meaningless.

Then the FAO report came out on the OAP, and it confirmed a few assumptions of mine, so I got to thinking – Maybe there was a way to still calculate the number of legacy kids.

At the end of March 2020 (end of the fiscal year), we knew that there were ~39,600 kids registered in the OAP.

Here were the numbers that the FAO shared:

  • 6400 in service under the old program
  • 8100 received either a childhood budget (CB) or interim one-time funding (IOTF) cheque
  • 19200 were sent an invite for funding, but hadn’t received a cheque yet
  • 5900 waiting for an invite

To get a little more exact, we can look at the update the ministry posted on April 15th:

Apr 15 Ministry update

To get the useful information, you need to read between the lines. If you subtract all the kids that have been invited to apply for either a CB or IOTF:

39618 – 10434 – 16877 = 12307

This represents what I refer to as the “unaccounted for.”

It’s a combination of those waiting for a funding invite, and the kids still in service in the old program (legacy kids).

So for the end of March, if you subtract the 6400 legacy kids from the 12307 unaccounted for, you get 5907 waiting for an invite. This is going to be our starting point for an interesting ride.

Okay, so let’s think through this logically.

There are a few numbers we can calculate each month, by knowing what the previous month’s numbers were:

  • The number of new registrations to the program
  • The number of new funding invites

For example, if we want to see what happened in April 2020, we compare the posted numbers from May 15th (representing the situation at the end of the previous month) to the April 15th numbers.

Ministry numbers for the months of March and April 2020

New registrations: 40295 – 39618 = 677

New CB invites: 11105 – 10434 = 671

New IOTF invites: 19195 – 16877 = 2318

Here’s a compilation of all the ministry updates since the format change, including their uncorrected numbers from the mid July update (July 15th):

I’ve gone ahead and calculated the numbers we’ll need for the next step:

The calculation of legacy kids

Okay, so we know that 5907 kids were waiting for an invite at the end of March, and 677 new kids were registered in April (who are also now waiting for an invite). We also know that several thousand funding invites went out (671 CB, 2318 IOTF) — meaning those kids are no longer waiting for an invite.

So we can calculate how many kids are waiting for an invite at the end of April:

5907 previously waiting + 677 new registrations – 671 CB invites – 2318 IOTF invites = 3595 waiting for invites

Still with me?

The last step is to subtract this number from the “unaccounted for” from April, which was 9995, to get the number of legacy kids left at the end of April.

9995 – 3595 = 6400

The exact same number as the previous month.

“Huh,” I thought, as I calculated that the first time. “It’s the same.” (knowing that hundreds of kids had received an invite for a CB, meaning there should be hundreds of less legacy kids, so this already didn’t make sense).

Okay, let’s do the next month (end of May)

Unaccounted for: 6447

New registrations: 1026

New CB invites: 0

New IOTF invites: 4574

3595 previously waiting + 1026 – 0 – 4574 = 447 waiting for an invite

6447 unaccounted- 447 waiting = 6000 legacy kids

“Huh.”

It was down by 400 this time, even though no CB invites went out, and was once again a nice even number.

“Weird.”

Let’s do the next one (end of June)

Unaccounted for: 2519

New registrations: 846

New CB invites: 240

New IOTF invites: 4534

447 previously waiting + 846 – 240 – 4534 = -3481 waiting for an invite

There was somehow a very large negative number as the amount of kids waiting for a funding invite now. Impossible, yes, but here’s where it gets weird:

2519 unaccounted for – (-3481 waiting) = 6000 legacy kids

Exactly 6000. Again.

Now, this was the same month where the Ministry admitted they miscounted the IOTF invites, and “fixed” their numbers (after being called-out on twitter by Scott Corbett and I)

It apparently wasn’t 4534 they sent out. It was actually only 37.

WHOOPSIE.

It’s super easy to miscount by 4497. Honest mistake, I’m sure.

Okay, now watch what happens with their corrected numbers:

Unaccounted for (fixed): 7016

New registrations (unchanged): 846

New CB invites (unchanged): 0

New IOTF invites (fixed): 37

447 previously waiting + 846 – 0 – 37 =1016 waiting for an invite

7016 unaccounted for – 1016 = 6000 legacy kids

Seeing a pattern yet?

Next up, the end of July.

Unaccounted for: 6330

New registrations: 863

New CB invites: 15

New IOTF invites: 1534

1016 previously waiting + 863 – 15 – 1534 = 330 waiting for an invite

6330 unaccounted for – 330 waiting = 6000 legacy kids

Oh hey, there’s that number again!

Last one (end of August).

Unaccounted for: 4729

New registrations: -593

New CB invites: 84

New IOTF invites: 924

330 previously waiting + (-593) – 84 – 924 = -1271 waiting for invites

4729 unaccounted for – (-1271) = 6000 legacy kids

Wouldn’t you know it? It’s 6000 again!

(The total number registered actually decreased this month for the first time, and was “explained” in the footnote to the latest update)

September 15 Ministry update

So if you put it all together, here’s a summary of all the latest updates, with the “unaccounted for” kids now … “accounted for”:

The calculations from the ministry numbers suggest that the amount of legacy kids has been exactly 6000 for each of the last 4 months.

There’s also multiple instances of them claiming to be sending out more invites than there were even kids waiting.

This doesn’t smell right.

There’s no way the legacy numbers are accurate here, which means that some part of the numbers the ministry are reporting have to be wrong. I don’t know which ones are wrong, but there’s definitely something fishy going on here.

How many actual legacy kids are there left?

How many funding invites have they actually sent out?

How many cheques have been cashed?

Can we trust ANY of the numbers they are giving us?

I say no.

I challenge the Ministry to explain what’s going on here, because I see no reason to believe anything they say anymore.

Dad to 2 kids on the spectrum. Autism Advocate.