There’s a local member on the province’s newly announced Autism Advisory Panel.

North Bay Recovery Home Executive Director Wendy Prieur is one of 20 members who will collectively provide recommendations to Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, on the best way to incorporate consultation feedback into the Ontario Autism Program.

Prieur tells BayToday she’s very compassionate to community and is in a learning phase right now, having taken part in town hall sessions.

“That’s a real passion for me, is to be able to bring the interest from a local level to hopefully change in policy that is positive to meet client needs,” she says.

The province says they intend to double the current level of funding to ensure children with autism receive the appropriate supports.

“We continue to hear from families about how the Ontario Autism Program can better address the needs of children with autism,” said MacLeod. “This advisory panel brings together people well-versed on autism to provide important advice and guidance.”

The panel will be co-chaired by former cabinet minister Dr. Marie Bountrogianni and the executive director of Autism Ontario, Margaret Spoelstra.

Bountrogianni is formerly the dean of the Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University and served as Ontario’s minister of Children and Youth Services from 2003-05.

Spoelstra has worked with the Geneva Centre for Autism and Autism Ontario and has been a member of the Order of Canada since 2011.

In addition to the co-chairs, the autism advisory panel includes parents of children with autism, clinicians, autism self-advocates, service providers, former public servants and others who have knowledge of and experience with autism.


File photo: Queens Park photo courtesy