An Ontario budget watchdog says the Ford government could eliminate autism service waiting lists — but to do so it would either have to more than double its $600 million annual budget, or cut in half the amount of support provided to each child and youth requiring it.

Here’s a breakdown of some more of the numbers from the Financial Accountability Office (FAO) report.

27,600 — the number of children and youth in Ontario waiting to access public autism services in 2019/20. That’s up from 24,900 in 2018-19.

$1.4 billion — how much the government would need to spend annually (current budget: $600 million) to maintain 2018 service levels and eliminate the waitlist.

25,100 — the number of children with autism in Ontario who did not receive one-time funding to bridge the Ford government’s autism policy flip-flop by the end of the fiscal year on March 31. That’s $174 million of unspent funds compared to $97 million that was spent on 8,100 children.

$8,100 — the average amount the Ford government spent on ‘childhood budgets’ per child in 2019 and 2020, compared to $29,900 the previous Wynne government spent under the Ontario Autism Program in 2018 and 2019, and the $19,800 (in today’s dollars) spent on a different program in place from 2011 to 2017.

$95,000 — the upper end of annual costs that families pay to get behavioural therapy to build language, communication and social skills.

17,860 — the number of youth with autism who could be provided with 2018 levels of support with a $600 million budget. That would be 8,700 more than in 2019-20 and bring the waitlist down to 22,900.

42,000 — the number of children and youth the FAO estimates live with autism in Ontario.

While autism can be diagnosed before some children turn two years old, the median age of diagnosis in Ontario is three. Photo by Derek Thomson on Unsplash

Ontario's budget watchdog @InfoFAO said the province's autism waiting list has grown and @fordnation has been slow to get interim funding out.

Alastair Sharp / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer