Statement from the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services Todd Smith
Supporting Ontario Children and Families Living with Autism
This morning, the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, Todd Smith, stood with his colleagues, Christine Elliott, Minister of Health, and Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women's Issues, to announce our government's support for infant hearing testing.
Following the announcement, Minister Smith took the opportunity to update Ontarians and outline his priorities in his new role with regards to the autism file.
- To build trust between the ministry and the public, we need to be open and transparent. Families and the public deserve to know how we are working to provide care. This is one of my top priorities.
- The most recent numbers available to us show that 10,365 children are currently in service in the Ontario Autism Program, while 24,924 children are waiting for service.
- I am also committing to providing monthly updates, verified by our ministry officials, on the number of children waiting for services, as well as the number of children currently in services.
- As of today, $4.4 million has flowed to 260 families, who have come off the waitlist and begun receiving Childhood Budgets.
- This file is far too important to be dealt with in isolation. There is a need for a national conversation, about how all levels of government can bring more to the table to help children and youth with autism. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss how we address the patchwork of services across Canada, to improve the lives of children and their families.
“I am privileged to have been appointed to this important role. I'm also humbled, as my new ministry is responsible for helping families across this province, through community and social services, programs for children and youth, working to reduce poverty, the responsibility for citizenship, immigration and women's issues (such as fleeing sex trafficking and violence), protecting the rights of LGBTQ people, and veterans' affairs.
I am also pleased to be working with Simcoe North's Jill Dunlop as our new Associate Minister. Minister Dunlop brings tremendous insight and compassion to her new position. Between us, I know we will accomplish important things for the people of our province. We are also joined in this effort by two Parliamentary Assistants: MPPs Amy Fee (Kitchener South-Hespeler), and Jeremy Roberts (Ottawa-West Nepean). These two colleagues bring years of experience and tremendous talent to our table.
I want to thank the families, advocates and professionals - who have such a stake in the work we do — for welcoming me into this role. Together we will continue to fix the ineffective, disjointed patchwork of supports we inherited from the previous government, and ensure children and families living with autism receive care.
Lastly let me just say that as we confront these challenges, my team and I will always be available to talk. You can reach us at (416) 212-7432 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My door is always open.’