BELLEVILLE — The Ontario government is investing $240 million over four years to increase access to critical rehabilitation services for children and youth with special needs and help them live happier and healthier lives. This investment is part of the 2021 Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy.
Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services and Todd Smith, Minister of Energy, and MPP for Bay of Quinte, announced the details of this new investment today at the Quinte Children’s Treatment Centre. As part of this investment, $60 million in new funding will be provided to Children’s Treatment Centres and Preschool Speech and Language programs annually starting this year, to enable more children to have access to services when they need them and improve access to critical services like early intervention.
“We know early intervention leads to better long-term outcomes for children and youth. By improving access to assessments and early intervention services, children can begin receiving the services they need sooner,” said Minister Fullerton. “We are making these investments, so every young person has the best opportunity to achieve their life goals and be set up for success.”
This funding will build additional service capacity and reduce wait times in the children’s services sector, enabling providers to serve up to 10,000 more preschool-aged children with speech and language needs and up to 47,000 more children and youth with rehabilitation needs annually. It will also support equitable access to service by addressing local challenges to recruitment and retention of clinical staff in northern, remote and/or rural communities.
“Increasing access to rehabilitation services will ensure children and youth with special needs in our community have access to supports when they need them,” said Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte. “This funding recognizes the incredible work done by clinicians and staff at the Quinte Children’s Treatment Centre, and at Children’s Treatment Centre’s across the province, that are helping our young people reach their full potential.”
“I want to acknowledge the tremendous provincial leadership in understanding, and investing in, children and youth with special needs. $240 million is an unprecedented investment for this hardworking sector and there is no better investment than in the future potential of children and youth right across the Province. Our dedicated team at the Quinte Children’s Treatment Centre are remarkably innovative and focused on the children, youth and families they serve. These additional dollars are vital to helping our team meet the growing demand for these services in our area.”
– Stacey Daub, President and CEO, Quinte Health Care
“Empowered Kids Ontario and our members thank the Government of Ontario for this commitment to kids with disabilities and their families. This support helps ensure the high-quality care they deserve will reach more kids and will begin to address the significant and growing wait times for care at home, in schools and in communities across the province.”
– Jennifer Churchill, CEO, Empowered Kids Ontario-Enfants Avenir Ontario
Healthy people are essential for a healthy economy. With vaccination, hope is on the horizon. Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy provides the resources necessary to finish the battle with COVID-19, by building on the government’s record investments to protect health and jobs during the global pandemic.
When children in Ontario begin school, almost 30 per cent have at least one developmental vulnerability that could pose a risk to their lifelong health, learning, and behaviour.
In 2019-20, more than 53,000 children received services through Ontario’s Preschool Speech and Language Program.
Children’s Treatment Centres provided School-Based Rehabilitation Services for 71,000 students in publicly-funded schools in 2019-20. Over 110,000 children and youth received rehabilitation services (occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech-language pathology) through Children’s Treatment Centres in community-based settings.
This investment builds on our government’s significant investments that are already supporting the construction of new facilities at Grandview Children’s Centre in Ajax, the Children’s Treatment Centre at CHEO’s campus in Ottawa and the Health Sciences North Children’s Treatment Centre in Sudbury, and a new Children’s Treatment Centre of Chatham Kent.
Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy, brings total investments to $16.3 billion to protect people’s health and $23.3 billion to protect our economy. Ontario’s COVID-19 action plan support now totals $51 billion.