Autism spending may be delayed

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]SHANNON HAGERMAN

The Daily Gleaner

Family and Community Services Minister Tony Huntjens said Monday it is possible some of the $2.8 million budgeted for autism treatment won’t be spent this fiscal year.

Huntjens said Monday he is hopeful an Applied Behavioural Analysis
(ABA) treatment program will get off the ground before March, but he
is not giving any guarantees.

“I am certainly hopeful,” he said. “I can’t give you timeliness at
this moment, because I need to know first of all who can provide it
and how quickly they can provide it.”

The government has promised to offer ABA to autistic children between
the ages of two and five. To date, the program hasn’t started.

A committee is still trying to figure out what kind of program will
be delivered. Then, individuals will have to be trained in the
program components, the minister said.

“How can I spend $2.1 million if we don’t have a program in place? We
have got to have it in place first,” the minister said. “Maybe,
between now and March we may only spend, let’s say, $500,000. That’s
fine. As long as we get the program started and get it in place.”

It is estimated there are about 114 children, between the ages of two
and five, who would qualify for the program. Of the $2.8 million
budgeted, $400,000 has been set aside for community-based programs
and another $300,000 will pay case managers to oversee individual
treatment plans.

Huntjens said if the remainder of the autism money isn’t spent this
fiscal year, that money will go into other areas, namely health-care
services.

“Nothing is lost. Remember if you don’t spend it, it doesn’t mean the
money is lost. It (just) means you haven’t spent it and you can use
it for other health care services that are necessary,” he said.

Huntjens said parents should be patient. “We are doing this as
quickly as possible. It needs to be an organized program.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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