Autism Reality

An Autism Question for the Hon. Stephane Dion

 

 

2007-06-05

The Hon. Stephane Dion, P.C., M.P.
Leader of the Official Opposition
Liberal Party of Canada

Dear Mr. Dion

An Autism Question

I am the father of two sons one of whom has classic Autism Disorder, with profound developmental delays, and I have been an autism advocate for the last eight years. This year I watched hopefully, but with no illusions, as Liberal MP Shawn Murphy of Charlottetown introduced Bill C-304, a Private Member’s bill, which would called for amendment of the Canada Health Act to provide coverage for autism treatments. As expected, Bill C-304 was defeated by the governing Conservative Party and its partner, the Bloc Quebecois. The Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party both voted, by and large, in support of Bill C-304. You personally cast a vote in support of the Bill.

Autism is a serious neurological disorder which affects 1 in 150 Canadians, including 1 in 94 male Canadians. Persons with an autism disorder can display a wide range of deficits including intellectual, communication, behavioural and social deficits. While no known cure exists, a treatment which has been empirically demonstrated in hundreds of studies to decrease the negative autism deficits, and in some cases virtually eliminate, these deficits exists. Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) has been demonstrated to improve the abilities in all these areas and improve the quality of life of autistic persons in hundreds of studies. Effective, early and intensive intervention with ABA, in addition to being effective in treating autistic children, has also been shown to save governments very substantial sums of money in provision of government services over the life of an autistic person.

Despite these facts, governments in Canada have an atrocious record in dealing with the Autism Crisis which confronts Canada and in helping these very vulnerable people. In British Columbia and Ontario governing parties reversed election campaign promises to provide medicare coverage for autism choosing instead to spend hundreds of thousands of tax payer dollars to fight in court the parents of autistic children they had pledged to help. Mr. Dion I hope that you will not follow these shameful precedents, I hope you will not forget your vote in support of Bill C-304.

Mr. Dion, will you tell me, and other parents and caregivers of autistic children and persons, if the Liberal Party of Canada will, once elected, introduce legislation in the first year of your taking office as Prime Minister, to include autism treatment in medicare for all Canadians with autism regardless of residence and regardless of income?

Respectfully,

Harold L Doherty
Fredericton
New Brunswick

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June 10, 2007 Posted by | advocacy, applied behaviour analysis, auitsm disorder, autism advocacy, autism treatment, Bill C-304, Canada Health Act, Liberal Party, Stephane Dion | Leave a comment

Four Strong Autism Winds


Four strong winds that blow slowly
Seven seas that run high
All these things that don’t change come what may
Now our good times are all gone
And I’m bound for moving on
I’ll look for you if I’m ever back this way

Guess I’ll go out to Alberta
Weather’s good there in the Fall
Got some friends that I can go to workin’ for
Still I wish you’d change your mind
If I asked you one more time
But we’ve been thru that a hundred times or more

– Ian Tyson

Ian Tyson’s Four Strong Winds is viewed by many as Canada’s unofficial national anthem, a tale of Canadian migration to Alberta in search of work. Today Alberta continues to draw Canadians in search of work. But it is also a magnet attracting Canadian families with autistic children in search of its government funded autism treatment. In neighboring Saskatchewan meanwhile government funding for autism is virtually non-existent.

In Parliament the Scott-Stoffer private member’s motion calling for a National Autism strategy to deal with this national health crisis was passed while the Shawn Murphy bill seeking inclusion of autism treatment under medicare was defeated by the Harper Conservatives and the Bloc Quebecois on spurious jurisdictional arguments. Canada would not have a national medicare system at all if this feeble rationalization was employed consistently. Indeed why do we even have a federal Health Minister, at present Tony Clement, if the federal government has no role to play in health issues? The reality is that prior to the election of the Harper Conservatives Canadians had long recognized the need for federal provincial cooperation to address health issues of national magnitude that might be beyond the ability of smaller or poorer provinces to address.

To most Canadians the hundreds of studies documenting the effectiveness of ABA in treating autism should be enough to justify extending a federal hand to ensure that Canadians do not have to move to Alberta to seek treatment for their autistic children. To most Canadians the fact that 47-50% of autistic children can be rendered indistinguishable from their peers by school age, with intensive behavioral intervention, would be enough to justify federal involvement. For most Canadians the improvement in quality of life, the increased ability to communicate, to function in society, to avoid self injurious behavior would be compelling motivations justifying an effective national autism strategy. Since Stephen Harper is Prime Minister though a different argument, one which does not rely upon empathy or compassion, must be found – studies show that autism treatment saves governments very substantial sums of money, in reduced government services, over the life of an autistic person.

How about it Mr. Harper, how about offering a real national autism strategy to address Canada’s autism crisis? You have clearly said no. Still I wish you’d change your mind, if I asked you one more time.


Autism funding drawing parents to Alberta

Last Updated: Monday, January 16, 2006 | 9:37 AM MT

CBC News

Alberta’s coverage of an intensive therapy for children with autism is prompting some families to move to the province to receive additional care for their children.

“I used to see easily a kid a month that came to Alberta for autism services,” Calgary pediatrician Dr. Neil Cooper said. “Probably it’s been 10 years that we’ve been in this office that we’ve seen kids come from other provinces, mostly because of the funding.”

The therapy – known as intensive behavioural intervention – is time consuming and expensive, but parents like Kim and Mike Stafford say it’s worth it.

The Moose Jaw couple moved to Calgary 18 months ago because Alberta’s health care system pays for the therapy, which they say has led to a big difference in their son.

When six-year-old Trey was diagnosed with autism, a developmental disorder which can be accompanied by severe problems with social interactions and language, three years ago, it seemed he had retreated into his own world, his parents say.

However, since he’s been involved in intensive behavioural intervention, his progress has been remarkable, they say.

For example, although now Trey spends part of each morning spelling words, he could barely even say them a year ago, Kim Stafford said.

“Now he knows all the kids’ names in his class. He can write down the names, he can spell them. It’s really wonderful to see,” she added.

The treatment involves speech therapy, physiotherapy, music and games – between 20 to 30 hours per week. It costs around $60,000 per year.

The Saskatchewan Health Department would only pay for one hour a week, which the Staffords say was inadequate, so they moved to Alberta. Almost immediately, Trey began receiving the full 30 hours, the Staffords said.

Roger Carriere, executive director of the Saskatchewan Health Department’s community care branch, said the therapy is expensive and there are questions about its effectiveness. He also noted there are many other priorities competing for Saskatchewan’s health dollars.

May 31, 2007 Posted by | aba, Alberta, Applied Behavior Analysis, autism disorder, bloc quebecois, Canada Health Act, Conservative Party, Saskatchewan, Stephen Harper, Tony Clement | 1 Comment

Autism Advocacy – FEAT BC Makes A Big Splash on the East Coast


The people from FEAT BC put a lot on the line with this tour. They invested money, sweat, credibility and time, including precious time away from their families, to make this trip across Canada and out to the East Coast to fuel a national effort to get autism covered by medicare. They did not come in to preach to the locals though. They came to talk and encourage all of us to get together and GET POLITICAL. If you are a Canadian parent seeking medical treatment for your autistic loved one NOW is the time to get involved. You can contact Jean Lewis via email at jean.lewis@telus.net. Or you can reach me at dohertylaw@rogers.com. NOW is the time not tomorrow.

If you are a member of a local or provincial autism group which receives government funding to operate they may discourage you from getting involved. Don’t let them discourage you. Act for your child and get involved. Feel free to contact Jean Lewis or me. Other contacts will also be provided soon. Contact your Member of Parliament and ask him or her to support autism coverage in Medicare. Just call them, write them or email them and let them know that is what you want. There is no need to debate them unless you want to do so but they know the need and they know effective treatment is available. Make your MP or anyone seeking to become your MP know that your vote depends on them making a commitment to include autism treatment in medicare coverage. NOW is the time to get involved, and GET POLITICAL.



Group pushes for autism funding
B.C. organization wants Ottawa to set standard for treatment

By MELANIE PATTEN The Canadian Press

A British Columbia-based group pushing to have costly treatments for autistic children covered under medicare has brought its fight to the East Coast.

Representatives from Families for Early Autism Treatment of B.C. met with dozens of parents and their autistic children in Dartmouth as part of a cross-country tour.

The non-profit organization has been calling on Ottawa to work with provincial and territorial governments to set a national standard for autism treatment.

The group also wants intensive therapy, known as applied behaviour analysis, covered for all Canadian children regardless of where they live or their family’s income.

“This is a health-care issue; this is science-based, effective treatment,” said Jean Lewis, a founding director of the group.

“It needs to be funded through health care so that it doesn’t matter if you live in British Columbia or Newfoundland, your health care is looked after in the same way as everyone else’s.”

The treatment, which can include one-on-one time with a trained professional, can cost up to $60,000 a year.

Without a national standard, coverage for autism treatment differs across the country. In Prince Edward Island, for example, coverage is assessed by income.

“That’s not the way they deal with a cancer patient, that’s not the way they deal with a cardiac problem,” said Shawn Murphy, the Liberal MP for Charlottetown. “And that’s not the way they should deal with this particular issue.”

Murphy said Ottawa has agreed to meet with the provincial and territorial governments by the end of the year to create a strategy.

Both levels of government will have to pitch in funding for treatment, support and diagnosis, said Murphy, who was recognized by the association for his public support for a national autism framework.

New Brunswick Liberal MP Andy Scott, Nova Scotia New Democrat MP Peter Stoffer, and Liberal Senator Jim Munson, were also recognized.

Jeff Reeves of Charlottetown, whose five-year-old son Owen has autism, attended the event to push Ottawa to provide more funding for autistic children.

Reeves said his son was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. He said Owen finally began treatment after sitting on a waiting list for nearly 18 months.

“Owen is very intelligent, but it’s his social interaction . . . eye contact, how to play with kids correctly,” said Reeves, 33, who is married and works in the IT industry.

“He’s made strides that we can’t believe . . . but if he would have gotten (treatment) at three, he could have been much further ahead.”

Owen’s treatment costs more than $10,000 a year, and Reeves said the province covers about 60 per cent. The family also pays for supplemental treatment out-of-pocket.

“The federal government has to do something about the funding for (the treatment),” said Reeves.

“The earlier they intervene, the better off these kids will be.

“If they leave them until they’re 18, 20 years old, they’re going to become drains on the system.”

Calgary Sun, May 27, 2007

B.C. autism group tours the nation

UPDATED: 2007-05-27 01:14:36 MST

Push for early treatment takes group to East Coast

By CP

DARTMOUTH, N.S. — A B.C.-based group pushing to have costly treatments for autistic children covered under medicare took its fight to the East Coast yesterday.

Representatives from Families for Early Autism Treatment of B.C. met with dozens of parents and their autistic children in Dartmouth, N.S., as part of a cross-country tour.

The non-profit organization has been calling on Ottawa to work with provincial and territorial governments to set a national standard for autism treatment.

The group also wants intensive therapy, known as applied behaviour analysis, covered for all Canadian children regardless of where they live or their family’s income.

“This is a health-care issue; this is science-based, effective treatment,” said Jean Lewis, a founding director of the group.

“It needs to be funded through health care so that it doesn’t matter if you live in British Columbia or Newfoundland, your health care is looked after in the same way as everyone else’s.”

The treatment, which can include one-on-one time with a trained professional, can cost up to $60,000 a year.

Without a national standard, coverage for autism treatment differs across the country.

In Prince Edward Island, for example, coverage is assessed by income.

“That’s not the way they deal with a cancer patient, that’s not the way they deal with a cardiac problem,” said Shawn Murphy, the Liberal MP for Charlottetown. “And that’s not the way they should deal with this issue.”

Murphy said Ottawa has agreed to meet with the provincial and territorial governments by the end of the year to create a strategy.

http://calsun.canoe.ca/News/National/2007/05/27/4211713-sun.html

May 27, 2007 Posted by | autism advocacy, autism disorder, Canada Health Act, FEAT BC, Jean Lewis | Leave a comment

Autism Supporter & Election Candidate – Stewart C. Paul (L) Tobique-Mactaquac


The current Conservative government of Stephen Harper, backed by the separatist Bloc Quebecois, voted down the Shawn Murphy motion to amend the Canada Health Act to ensure that autistic children, regardless of where they happened to live in Canada would receive government funded proven effective ABA treatment for their autism. The budget brought down by the Harper government gave $0 ZERO dollars for autism. Conservative MP’s across Canada have marched in lockstep uniformity to deny federal government assistance for autism even elminating funds for a well respected autism summer camp in Ontario. The next election will be critical for the success of efforts to put in place a serious national autism strategy in Canada and it is important to identify and support candidates who are prepared to support a national autism strategy. One such candidate is Stewart C. Paul the Liberal candidate for Tobique-Mactaquac here in New Brunswick.

Stewart is a long time friend, and professional associate, who has been very supportive of my efforts on behalf of my son Conor and of the cause of autism generally. He has pledged to support a national autism strategy if elected and he has the background to know how to offer effective support on the national scene. Stewart Paul is the Liberal candidate for Tobique-Mactaquac and a supporter of the cause of autistic persons on the national scene in Ottawa. If you live in the Tobique-Mactaquac area and have an autistic child or know someone who is autistic or if you are yourself autistic remember Stewart Paul when you cast your ballot in the next federal election.

http://www.nblib.nb.ca/stewart_paul.html

Born and raised in the riding of Tobique – Mactaquac, in Tobique First Nation, Stewart Paul graduated from Perth High School, where he was active in student life and served as President of the Student Council.

As a young person, he was moved by the difficult social conditions and economic disparities evident in his home community, and developed an early interest in issues related to social justice, economic development, and education.

He attended the University of New Brunswick, where he took an undergraduate degree in arts (majoring in history and sociology), then a law degree. In addition to his BA and LLB degrees, he earned a Diploma in Social Leadership from the Coady Institute at St. Francis Xavier University. He is a 25-year member of the Canadian Bar Association and the Law Society of New Brunswick.

His first jobs were as an education consultant with the NB Department of Education in Fredericton, and as a Policy Analyst with the Assembly of First Nations in Ottawa. In the early 1980’s, he co-founded the Mi’kmaq-Maliseet Institute in the Faculty of Education at the University of New Brunswick, a respected organization dedicated to the training and professional development of Native educators. He practiced law for several years in Fredericton before returning home in the late 1980’s to enter political life. He served several terms as Chief of the Tobique First Nation during which time much about the community was transformed. He maintained a private law practice in Perth-Andover throughout this time and to the present day.He also presently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Peace Hills Trust, a national financial institution. He has been married for 40 years. He and his wife, Sandra, have four children and nine grandchildren.

He brings experience to the table that spans job creation, education, health, natural resources, business development, and community infrastructure. He has strong skills related to leadership, management, and government administration. He has worked in regional and national policy development, and has experience with complex legal and financial negotiations. He is also familiar with Ottawa and the provincial government.

As a lifelong resident of Tobique-Mactaquac, he is committed to the entire region. He has been an active member of the Liberal party in this region for nearly 20 years, and he understands the challenges facing the region, and the aspirations of its people. He has much to offer, and would be a strong representative of the people in Ottawa. He is a seasoned political leader, a strong campaigner, and a hard worker.

He was nominated as the Liberal candidate for the Electoral District of Tobique – Mactaquac on April 28, 2007.

May 18, 2007 Posted by | autism disorder, Canada Health Act, election, Liberal Party, national autism strategy, Stewart Paul, Tobique-Mactaquac | Leave a comment

Put ABA back in HB 1224 – A Perfectly Cromulent Blog

The attached excerpt and link are from Put ABA back in HB 1224 on Pete’s blog A Perfectly Cromulent Blog Pop culture related smart-assery . The article is written in the blogger’s irrevent style and is a textbook example of the need to include specific reference to ABA in legislation governing provision of health care coverage for autism. Whether it is Canada or Texas governments and lobbyists do not want legislation to require that Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) be covered as a health care intervention for autism. Even though ABA is THE proven effective intervention for autism, even though autism reates are soaring, and even though studies document huge long term savings to governments and society ABA is still resisted while almost any other treatment for any other ailment receives coverage. Pete’s commentary is very well written, gets to the point and tells a tale of government unresponsiveness to autism which is as true of the Government of Canada as it is of the Government of Texas.

“Which is what makes the amendment to HB 1224 so maddening. After all, if I was feeling a little down in the dumps, my health plan would cheerfully cover the cost of my happy pills. If I drunkenly jawed off to Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipović in a Zagreb bar and he broke my jaw, insurance would cover the emergency room visit and my subsequent weeks of pain meds. Hell, if I was an 80-year old man having trouble getting a goddamned hard-on, insurance would cover my boner pills, but therapy to help my daughter become a functional and productive member of society and not just another ward of the state after her parents die? We can apparently fuck right off.

So we’re choosing to tell our daughter’s story now, after being quiet about it for the last 16 months: to emphasize how important it is that this bill pass in its original form. If it seems opportunistic or self-serving, well…there’s not much I can say about that, except that things like ABA and other therapy programs would seem to be the point of insurance: to insure the well-being of these kids who otherwise would be without hope for a future.

Finally, the only thing that really gave me pause about posting this was something that was said to me about the possibility SWSNBN might read this later on in her life and be mortified. My only response to that is this: I’m not a religious person, so prayer is out of the question, but I hope beyond anything I have ever hoped in my miserable life that my daughter, at some point in the future, is able to read this blog and yell at her father about it. I want that so badly it physically hurts.”

http://www.whiterose.org/pete/blog/archives/010441.html

May 13, 2007 Posted by | A Perfectly Cromulent Blog, aba, Applied Behavior Analysis, autism disorder, Autism Society Canada, Canada Health Act, government, HB 1224, legislation, Texas | Leave a comment

Dear Prime Minister Harper – Autism and You; An Open Letter Asking You to Open Your Mind, Open Your Heart



Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Dear Prime Minister

I am writing to you as the father of a severely autistic 11 year old boy living in Fredericton, New Brunswick and as an autism advocate for the past 8 years here in New Brunswick. Recently I was disappointed, bitterly disappointed, by two actions by your very tightly controlled government – the rejection of MP Shawn Murphy’s motion to amend the Canada Health Act to ensure autistic children, wherever they reside in Canada, would receive government funded treatment for their autism. Canada as a nation has long ago rejected the notion that accidents of geography should determine whether Canadians receive life sustaining or life enhancing medical treatment.

The arguments about constitutional jurisdiction advanced in justification are specious and you sir, with all due respect, know that. Canada has long operated on the basis of a model of cooperative federalism which has developed many legislative tools to ensure that narrow constitutional boundaries do not impair the quality of life in this great country. I will mention no specific examples because there are far too many for this to be a serious issue of contention.

Autism is a serious neurological disorder borne by 1 in 150 Canadians by currently accepted estimates. It also impacts on the lives of parents, siblings, grandparents and other caregivers. There is no known cure but there is a widely acknowledged, evidence based treatment available, Applied Behavioural Analysis, or ABA, which is supported by literally hundreds of studies, including recent studies, which document the effectiveness of ABA in improving the IQ, the linguistic skills and comprehension, the ability to function in the real world, of children with autism. In my son’s case, even with the limited ABA therapy which was available in New Brunswick at the time because of a shortage of trained personnel, he has made tremendous gains. From a child who could only scream and tantrum he became a child who can communicate using words, who is reading, albeit at a level below his chronological age, and who in fact almost daily pulls out books on his own initiative to real aloud for his own enjoyment. This is the ABA which parents seek across Canada, the USA and the world for their autistic children.

There are those who oppose ABA based on personal preferences, outdated and ill founded misconceptions about what ABA involves and quite simply on the basis of paranoid, conspiratorial beliefs that somehow they as human beings, as functioning adults, will be deprived of their personalities if someone else’s autistic children are taught fundamental living skills by use of ABA. They make stretched and tortured arguments about ABA turning children into robots. This is nonsense as they happy joyful pictures of my son which I will provide a link for in this letter can rebut with finality. They also make disingenuous attacks on the studies which have documented ABA based gains for autistic children ignoring the fact that literally hundreds of such studies exist all showing substantial gains. Critics also focus on costs of providing ABA ignoring the studies that have shown the huge financial savings to government in reduction of service provision over the lives of autistic persons who have benefited from ABA.

I do not actually expect you to personally read this email Prime Minister. I hope though that a conscientious staffer or, through the marvel that is the internet, a family member or friend, will see fit to read this and implore you to take action on behalf of Canadians with autism. You can make a difference in the lives of 1 in 150 Canadians Prime Minister. You can make a difference in the lives of their loved ones and care givers and you can save Canadian governments enormous sums by reducing the level of services required as a result of early intensive ABA intervention.

Please open your mind Prime Minister, open your heart, and do the right thing.

Respectfully,

Harold L Doherty
Fredericton New Brunswick

May 9, 2007 Posted by | aba, Applied Behavioural Analysis, autism disorder, autism treatment, Canada Health Act, Shawn Murphy, Stephen Harper | 3 Comments

FEAT-BC Goes Coastal!!!


FEAT-BC is coming to Atlantic Canada.

FEAT and the families involved with FEAT have actively led the fight for autism treatment and services on the legal and political fronts in Canada. Atlantic Canadians with an autistic family member, autistic persons and persons with an interest in autism are encouraged to attend this event if at all possible.

This is huge folks. This is a great opportunity to thank political leaders like Shawn Murphy, Andy Scott, Peter Stoffer and Jim Munson who have cared; who have tried to help and are still trying to help persons with autism in Canada. Let’s greet the folks from BC and show them “the very best”. Lets thank Andy, Peter, Jim and Shawn. And let’s send a clear and strong message to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and federal Health Minister Tony Clement that their callous disregard for the health and well being of autistic Canadians will not go unchallenged.

I have already made my reservations at the Holiday Inn Dartmouth and I hope to see everyone there!!


“Families for Early Autism Treatment of BC Goes Coastal”

Vancouver……Ottawa……Toronto……Halifax

An Invitation to join Families for Early Autism Treatment of BC

(F.E.A.T. of BC) to say THANK YOU to:

Shawn Murphy, MP

Andy Scott, MP

Peter Stoffer, MP

Senator Jim Munson

For their dedication and commitment to improving the lives of
Canadians affected by autism…

….AND….

To hear about F.E.A.T. of BC’s exciting plans to “go coastal” with
our national political initiative to achieve universal health care
coverage for EVERY Canadian affected by autism.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Holiday Inn, Harbourview

101 Wyse Rd.

Dartmouth, Nova Scotia,

B3A 1L9

2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

$25.00 per person – Refreshments will be served

Please make cheques payable to:

F.E.A.T. of BC, c/o Louise Witt, 2135 – 129th St., Surrey, BC, V4A 8H6

R.S.V.P. by May 20th. to Louise Witt, email: taylorwitt@shaw. ca or
call 604-538-1370.

For local enquiries: Luigi Rocca – luiroc@gmail. com 506 869-5444 (B) or
506 382-2239 (h)

*Donations are needed and welcomed! All donations will be used to
assist in F.E.A.T.’s national political initiative to achieve our
goal – universal health care coverage for EVERY Canadian affected by
autism.

Cheques should be payable to F.E.A.T. of BC, c/o the above address.

“We owe it to these families, to society and ourselves to share not
only the burden of autism, but also the collective responsibility to
act.”

– Senator Jim Munson

“The access Canadian children with autism have to the treatment they
need sould not depend on how much money their parents have, nor in
which province they live.”

– Shawn Murphy, MP

“We have the opportunity to positively change the lives of thousands
of autistic children and their families and ensure these Canadians
will achieve their potential.”

Andy Scott, MP

“In a caring and progressive Canada, children with autism have a
right to health care.”

– Peter Stoffer, MP

May 6, 2007 Posted by | Andy Scott, autism awareness, autism disorder, Canada Health Act, FEAT BC, Halifax, Jim Munson, Peter Stoffer, Rally, Shawn Murphy | Leave a comment

Autism Champ? NO! Mike Lake Champions Bigfoot! LOL




Politicians must pick their battles carefully, decide which causes to champion, decide on which issues they will invest their energies and political capital. For Edmonton Area MP and Autism Dad Mike Lake the choice is clear cut. Lake did NOT support the cause of autism in voting against MP Shawn Murphy’s motion to amend the Canada Health Act to include treatment for autism. Mr. Lake did not protest his party’s decision in the recent federal budget to fund ZERO dollars towards the cause of autism in Canada. In fairness to Mr. Lake though he does have a more important cause to champion- BIGFOOT!!!! Yup, Mr. Lake is the official BIGFOOT Champion. Mike Lake Bigfoot Champion!!

Bigfoot risks extinction, says Canadian MP

Wed May 2, 1:52 PM ET

OTTAWA (AFP) – Bigfoot, the legendary hairy man-like beast said to roam the wildernesses of North America, is not shy, merely so rare it risks extinction and should be protected as an endangered species.

So says Canadian MP Mike Lake who has called for Bigfoot to be protected under Canada’s species at risk act, alongside Whooping Cranes, Blue Whales, and Red Mulberry trees.

“The debate over their (Bigfoot’s) existence is moot in the circumstance of their tenuous hold on merely existing,” reads a petition presented by Lake to parliament in March and due to be discussed next week.

“Therefore, the petitioners request the House of Commons to establish immediate, comprehensive legislation to affect immediate protection of Bigfoot,” says the petition signed by almost 500 of Lake’s constituents in Edmonton, Alberta….”

May 5, 2007 Posted by | autism disorder, bigfoot, Canada Health Act, Conservative Party, Mike Lake, Stephen Harper | 5 Comments

Autism Advocacy in Impending Federal Election


FEAT-BC, which has been at the forefront of autism advocacy in Canada, has heard the message from the Supreme Court of Canada. With two SCC decisions in Auton and Deskin-Wynberg denying the courts as effective avenues for seeking equality protection for autistic children in hand the time is now for political action and FEAT-BC is prepared to jump into the fray – again. The strategy recognizes the need for an effective concentration of effort and resources by targeting ridings of vulnerable politicians who have acted against the cause of autism in Canada. As the attached article from MacLean’s illustrates, FEAT-BC is very interested in one Tony Clement, the federal Health Minister who has fought against Federal government help for autistic persons in Canada , and who did not win by much in his last election.

Watch Out Tony! What goes around comes around!

Warning to low-hanging politicians

Parents of autistic kids take aim at Tony Clement

JOHN GEDDES | April 23, 2007 |

Imagine a Tory who won a seat in the last election by only a few votes. Who would such an MP least want to have to fight, alongside the usual opposition rivals, to survive in the coming campaign? How about enraged, well-organized parents who accuse Ottawa of failing to assure their children of essential medical care?

They might not know it yet, but this unsettling scenario faces certain carefully targeted Conservatives. Parents of autistic children plan to take aim at selected government MPs who squeaked in last time by two per cent of the vote or less. And the most vulnerable MP of all could be the architect of the federal autism policy that has the parents so upset — Health Minister Tony Clement, who won his Ontario riding of Parry Sound-Muskoka last time by a mere 29 votes.

Autism groups are cagey about revealing details of their plan of attack before an election is on. But one Ontario activist told Maclean’s, “Clement is like a pear ready to drop from the tree.” B.C.’s Families for Early Autism Treatment was active in a few closely fought B.C. ridings in 2006. Some of the group’s core members, including director Jean Lewis, are scheduled to attend a meeting in Halifax on May 26 to pass along tactical lessons to East Coast parents of autistic children.

But if Stephen Harper’s minority falls before then, the B.C. firebrands plan to cancel their Halifax event and make a campaign detour to Ontario of up to two weeks. “We will certainly be in Parry Sound-Muskoka,” Lewis said. The B.C. group and their allies demand federal action to extend medicare coverage to full early autism treatment, which can cost $35,000 a year for young children.

Successive federal Liberal and Tory governments have held that deciding what conditions are insured is up to the provinces. Lewis says autism activists will back individual candidates who support their position, but not parties. “When the Liberals were in power,” she said, “they were as pathetic as the Conservatives are now.”

http://tinyurl.com/2d9965

April 20, 2007 Posted by | autism advocacy, autism disorder, autism health, autism treatment, Canada Health Act, FEAT BC, Jean Lewis, Stephen Harper, Tony Clement | Leave a comment

Vancouver Province Calls for National Autism Strategy

The Vancouver Province has issued a call for a national autism strategy, including an amendment to the Canada Health Act to include autism as an insured health service. One omission from the Province’s statement is the need to address the plight of autistic adults particularly those living a custodial existence in mental health care and residential facilities. Still the Province’s call for a national autism strategy provides much needed support in the struggle to improve the lives of Canada’s autistic population and is appreciated by this father of a severely autistic boy.

A national strategy is urgently needed for autism victims

The Province

Published: Sunday, April 15, 2007

Advocates for the estimated 200,000 Canadians suffering from the neurological disorder known as autism suffered another setback last week in their campaign for greater government support.

A court battle launched by 28 Ontario families to try to get their provincial government to fund treatment for their autistic children ground to a halt when the Supreme Court of Canada declined to hear arguments in the case.

….

The help they get depends on where they live. Alberta, for example, pays up to $60,000 a year to age 18 for treatment. But B.C. pays $20,000 a year to age six and only $6,000 a year thereafter.

B.C. Liberal MP Blair Wilson, who campaigns for autism victims, says such inequity is unacceptable. We agree, and endorse a Senate committee’s call last month for a federal-provincial conference to develop a national strategy for autism, which now affects one in 200 children.

The plan should include an awareness campaign, plus more money for research and tax breaks for victims’ families. One sweeping solution would be to amend the Canada Health Act to include autism as an insured health service.

We are well aware that the additional burden on health costs would be considerable and would have to be weighed against competing priorities.

But, as a caring nation, we have a moral obligation to do what is right.

http://tinyurl.com/32naeo

April 15, 2007 Posted by | autism disorder, autism treatment, Canada Health Act, national autism strategy, Supreme Court of Canada, Vancouver Province | Leave a comment