The Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador (ASNL) is pleased to see the recently unveiled provincial budget includes money to hire more health-care professionals to assess and diagnose children with the neurological disorder.
Close to $4 million will be spent over the next two years to hire 30 additional developmental pediatricians, speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists.
In a news release, ASNL said the new hirings will have a positive impact on the issue of lengthy waitlists for assessment and diagnosis.
However, ASNL added it was disappointed to see the policy to use an IQ of 70 or less among adults to determine the need for services and supports remained in place.
“It is a measure used to deny services that are desperately needed,” ASNL said in the release.
A 12 per cent reduction in core funding from government in 2013 resulted in ASNL staff reductions and changes to services and programs. ASNL said the new budget keeps core funding at the same level compared to its last fiscal year, but a growing need for its services may lead to further reductions.
“Present challenges are made much more difficult with inadequate core funding from government,” it said. “In addition, it increases the need for staff to engage in even more community fundraising to try and address the shortfall.”