Oakville-Based Children’s Health Facility Gives Layoff Notices to Close to 300 Employees
A well-known children’s health facility that operates locations in Mississauga, Brampton and Oakville has been forced to give layoff notices to close to 300 employees.
ErinoakKids Centre for Treatment and Development, Ontario’s largest children’s treatment centre for children with disabilities and their families, recently announced that it has been “significantly impacted” by changes to the way the Ontario government funds autism services.
“ErinoakKids Centre for Treatment and Development is one of the largest providers of clinically-based autism services in Ontario, and as such, has been significantly impacted by recent changes to the way the Ontario government funds autism services,” Jennifer Arnott, a spokesperson for ErinoakKids, said in an email statement to insauga.com.
“Agencies like ErinoakKids are no longer funded to administer and deliver these services through the public sector, as we have done since the inception of the original program in 2000, for successive governments. Instead, families of children with autism are being provided with a Childhood Budget, which they can spend with any provider of their choice.”
The children who receive treatment at ErinoakKids have a wide range of physical and/or developmental disabilities and communication disorders. Many of the centre’s clients have autism, and some of the children the centre cares for are blind and/or deaf.
The centre serves the Halton, Peel and Dufferin regions.
“In order for our organization to be able to continue to provide much-needed services to children with autism and their families in this new environment, we have had to make some significant staffing reductions, which were announced to staff today,” Arnott said.
ErinoakKids says that 291 positions have been affected.
Staff will receive a combination of working notice and severance in accordance with Ministry of Labour regulations.
“These were very difficult decisions, and we would like to thank all of our dedicated staff for the excellent care that they have provided to children during our time as a transfer payment agency for the delivery of autism services,” Arnott said.
The news comes about a year after the opening of brand new, state-of-the-art facilities in Mississauga and Brampton.
The new facilities were part of a multi-site project supported by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services under former Premier Kathleen Wynne. The project involved the replacement of 10 outgrown and rented facilities with three new buildings - one in Mississauga, another in Halton and a third in Brampton.
Monique Taylor, the NDP critic for Children and Youth, spoke out against the changes in autism funding in a statement.
“Organizations like ErinoakKids provide critical supports to kids with autism and their families. Now, thanks to Doug Ford’s callous cuts, 291 of those caring front-line workers will be taken away from the children that need them. Doug Ford’s attack on autism services for children is despicable, people deserve better, and the Ontario NDP will keep up the right to give children with autism and their families the services and supports they need.”
The province responded by saying that care decisions will be left in the hands of parents and that no cuts will be made to the Ontario Autism Program.
“Our government believes parents know best. That’s why we are providing funding directly to parents, not agencies. We know we need a flexible system that empowers parents to make decisions specific to the needs of their child,” Lisa McLeod, minister of children, community and social services, said in a statement to Global News.
“Let’s be clear, there is no cut in funding to the OAP.”
While a significant number of frontline workers will be laid-off, ErinoakKids says children with autism will still be able to connect with skilled staff members at the facilities.
“We would also like to assure families that we are retaining a sufficient number of highly qualified staff to continue to meet the needs of both families who are currently receiving service from us and those who would like to purchase services from us as they receive their Childhood Budgets. ErinoakKids remains committed to helping children and youth with disabilities and special needs, including those with autism, grow, develop and reach their full potential,” Arnott said.
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