Nearly 300 employees at a GTA autism treatment facility received layoff notices on Monday amid an ongoing reorganizing of autism funding by the Progressive Conservative government.

Staff at the Erinoakkids Centre for Treatment and Development were brought into a meeting this morning and told that due to a lack of funding 291 positions would be eliminated over the next 12 weeks.

The move affects frontline therapists, supervisors and applied behavior analysts – virtually every autism-related employee at the facility at locations in Mississauga, Brampton and Oakville. Employees were told the facility would then re-hire 178 people on contracts – meaning at least 113 full-time jobs will be eliminated.

Employees affected by the layoffs tell CTV News Toronto there was a “very somber mood” as staff were given a management presentation on the reasons behind the move.

“These are good people,” said one employee, who spoke to CTV News Toronto on the condition of anonymity out of fear of jeopardizing their severance package. “We’re just trying to help out families of children with autism.”

In a statement, ErinoakKids says the centre was “significantly impacted” by the controversial autism funding changes ushered in by Premier Doug Ford’s government earlier this year.

Instead of directly funding autism treatment centers and therapists, the government created Childhood Budgets, giving money directly to families to choose customizable treatment options.

While the government promised the funding would be delivered as of April 1, Social Services Minister Lisa MacLoed confirmed the “cheques are going out” this week.

ErinoakKids says the new funding model forced them to make “significant” staff reductions.

“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,” the centre said in a statement.