Autism Reality

FEAT-BC Response to Senate Autism Report



Monday, April 2, 2007

Vancouver, BC
– “The Senate report ‘PAY NOW OR PAY LATER, Autism Families in Crisis’, released to the public last Thursday is yet further evidence that, no matter how serious the public policy issue, there is absolutely no sense of urgency in Ottawa about it”, said Jean Lewis, a founding director of FEAT-BC [Families for Early Autism Treatment of BC]. “While the sub-title of the report acknowledges the existence of a crisis for those families [more every day in Canada] that have an autistic child or children, the Senate recommends that the federal government convene an inter-governmental ministerial conference and implement a national public awareness campaign. This report is worthy of Sir Humphrey Appleby of Yes, Minister fame.”

Despite the existence for 25 years in our country of a Charter of Rights, and the operation for even longer of an allegedly universal health care system, autistic children continue to be denied access to appropriate public-funding for medically necessary treatment. “The title of the Senate’s report, ‘PAY NOW OR PAY LATER’ speaks volumes”, states Dr. Sabrina Freeman, founder and executive director of FEAT-BC. “Why is this core health need continually addressed in financial terms when such is not the case with, for instance, AIDS/HIV, cancer, heart disease or orthopaedic surgery?”

Contrast the Senate recommendations, and the approach to date of the federal government, with what is happening in the United States. Last year, the US Congress unanimously passed the “Combating Autism Bill”, legislation that puts $945 million into the fight against this epidemic disease. In recent weeks, two US Senators have introduced another bill, one that will, if passed, pour a further $350 million into key treatments and services for autistic children and adults, together with their desperate, and often destitute, families.

Our Senate has missed the point with this report. It has, however, re-inforced the determination of parents of autistic children across Canada to participate aggressively in the upcoming federal election campaign in an effort to elect MPs, regardless of partisan affiliation, who will fight for Medicare coverage for autism treatment now.

Further information, contact:
Jean Lewis
604-925-4401
604-290-5737
jean.lewis@telus.net

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April 2, 2007 Posted by | autism disorder, autism treatment, Canada Health Act, Jean Lewis, national autism strategy | Leave a comment

Politics Blocs Help for Autism – Quebec



The motion by Charlottetown Liberal MP Shawn Murphy which would have amended the Canada Health Act to ensure funding for ABA treatment for autism was defeated by an alliance between the Harper Conservatives and the Bloc Quebecois. Mr. Harper and his Autism Front Man, Edmonton area MP Mike Lake, a father of an autistic child, argued that such an amendment would have constituted an intrusion into provincial jurisdiction. The Bloc in order to justify its existence in a federal parliament must be seen as fighting federalist intrusions into any aspect of Quebec life. But what did it cost Quebec children with autism for Quebec’s purported separatists to grandstand and obstruct in the name of political ideology? Are Quebec children with autism different than children with autism outside Quebec? Is the Quebec government so wealthy that all autistic children are fully funded for effective ABA treatment?

The answer to both of these questions is “No” as the following excerpt from the CASLPA Canadian Association of Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologists presentation to the Canadian Senate makes clear:

Quebec

The standard of care for ASD in Quebec is Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), but given that ABA is an intensive, one-on-one program involving roughly 20 hours of therapy a week, the province does not have sufficient resources to provide every autistic child with ABA when the treatment is needed.

In Quebec, the waiting list for ABA can be anywhere from six months to a year after diagnosis. This is challenging for hospital staff as speech-language pathologists are there to assist with the diagnosis but there is not any on-going mandate to provide treatment. Frustration with ABA waiting lists has caused speech-language pathologists and psychiatrists to seek out more cost-effective therapeutic alternatives, such as intervention programs that are designed to help parents support language development in their autistic children.

http://www.caslpa.ca/PDF/SenateCommittee_bried_nov2006.pdf

Unfortunately for Quebec’s autistic children politics Bloc’d a serious effort to provide funding for the effective ABA treatment their parents seek on their behalf.

March 25, 2007 Posted by | aba, applied behavioral analysis, autism disorder, bloc quebecois, Canada Health Act, Gilles Duceppe, Mike Lake, Stephen Harper | Leave a comment

Layton, Stoffer Slam Zero Conservative Support for Autism




NDP leader Jack Layton and NDP MP Peter Stoffer have slammed the Harper Conservatives for failing to provide any funding whatsosever for autism in its recent federal budget. The Conservatives did not ante up a single penny for autism.

Meanwhile Mike Lake, the Conservative MP and father of an autistic child, who opposed the Shawn Murphy attempt to ensure autism coverage in the Canada Health Act, has not offered any public comment on the failure to provide a single penny for autism in his party’s budget. Emails sent to his office are responded to by a staffer who informs that Mr. Lake has received too many emails on the subject of autism to respond personally.

http://www.ndp.ca/page/5057

Stoffer slams federal government for not providing autism funding in budget

Fri 23 Mar 2007

OTTAWA – NDP Leader Jack Layton and Peter Stoffer (Sackville-Eastern Shore) slammed the federal government today for not providing funding in the federal budget to help families with autistic children.

“Families with autistic children are in crying need of support,” said Layton. “They are very disappointed that the Conservative government has ignored their needs in the budget. Providing support for these families should be a bigger priority for the federal government than corporate tax cuts.”

“It is also hypocritical that the Harper government is ignoring the autism motion M-172 passed by the House of Commons last December,” said Stoffer. “When Harper was in Opposition, he constantly criticized the Liberal government because it did not respect the votes of the House of Commons. It is surprising how quickly the Conservatives have become just like the Liberals.”

M-172 requires the federal government to work in cooperation with the provinces and territories to establish national standards for treatment and delivery of services, study funding arrangements, create a national surveillance program, and provide more funding for health research on autism.

“The federal government must work with the provinces and territories to find a way to include autism therapy in the health care insurance plan of every region across this country,” said Stoffer. Stoffer introduced a private members bill (C-211) to this effect last fall.

Stoffer also expressed his profound disappointment with the federal government in failing to recognize the Veterans First Motion and ignoring the issue of Agent Orange and Agent Purple in the budget. The Veterans First motion was passed in November 2006 and suggested five key reforms that would deliver long overdue fairness and security for Canadian Forces veterans and their families.

“With a $14.2 billion dollar surplus, how can the federal government not provide more funding and services for families with autistic children and for veterans and their families? It is absolutely shameful. It is time for the federal government to be proactive in the lives of Canadian families living with autism.”

March 24, 2007 Posted by | autism, budget, Canada Health Act, Jack Layton, Mike Lake, NDP, Peter Stoffer, Stephen Harper | 2 Comments

Will Michael Lake, Harper’s Autism Front Man, Resign from Conservative Caucus?



March 21 2007

Michael Lake
MP, Edmonton

Dear Mr. Lake

As the parent of an 11 year old boy with Autism Disorder living in New Brunswick I was very disappointed in you, as the father of an autistic child, acting as a front man for the Harper government in the defeat of Charlottetown MP Shawn Murphy’s private member bill calling for amendments to the Canada Health Act. That bill would have ensured that autistic children would have received much needed ABA treatment regardless of where they live in Canada. Families would not have to move to your home province of Alberta to ensure receipt of services as they are now doing in significant numbers. Members of the Canadian Armed Forces, and other national organizations, with autistic children would not be turning down postings to New Brunswick as they are now doing.

As an autism parent you were of great use to Mr. Harper; you were on full display as the father of an autistic child in fighting AGAINST a measure that would have helped so many autistic children, regardless of where they lived in Canada. Of course if you were from one of the poorer provinces with little in the way of funded treatment for autism, rather than affluent Alberta with its well funded treatment, your role in the Conservative-Bloc Quebecois defeat of measures for autism could have been even more prominent.

As it was you claim to have stood on principle. You claimed that it was contrary to the provinces’ constitutional jurisdiction over health care for the federal government to help autistic children across Canada. That is why I am sure you are upset over the budget announcement by Finance Minister Flaherty that the Harper government would fund the creation of a Canadian Mental Health Commission. It must be very difficult for you, the autism dad who fought against a national autism strategy, in order to defend the sanctity of provincial jurisdiction over health care, to see your own party now turn on you and violate that principle by the creation of a Canadian Mental Health Commission.

Will you be resigning from the Conservative caucus to sit as an Independent?

Respectfully,

Harold L Doherty
Fredericton New Brunswick

March 21, 2007 Posted by | autism disorder, Canada Health Act, Mike Lake, Shawn Murphy, Stephen Harper | Leave a comment

Harper Budgets $0 for Autistic Canadians



StatsCanada estimates that Canada’s population will hit 32,950,734 by July 1, 2007. With the CDC figure of 1 in 150 persons having an autistic disorder there are approximately 219,672 autistic Canadians. Many autistic persons require expensive health, education and residential care services. For Autistic Canadians Prime Minister Harper’s government set aside the grand sum of …… $0

Some lesser politicians might have tried to fake it and pretend that they were concerned about Canada’s autistic population. Stephen Harper, to his credit, does not try to pretend. He does not give a damn about your autistic loved one and he does not care who knows it. He does, at least, have the virtue about being honest about his disregard for autistic Canadians.

$O. Thank you so much Mr. Harper.

March 20, 2007 Posted by | autism disorder, autism education, budget 2007, Canada Health Act, residential care, Stephen Harper | Leave a comment

FEAT BC Response to Betrayal of Autistic Children by Mike Lake & Conservatives

Personally I found the actions of Alberta MP Mike Lake in voting down Bill C-304 one of the more disheartening aspects of that defeat. Mr. Lake is a parent of an autistic child in Alberta where the province has the money to fund treatment for autism. He pretends to have the cause of autistic children at heart. Yet he was the front man for the Conservative Party which killed a bill which would have opened up funding for autistic children to receive evidence based effective treatement wherever they reside in Canada. Mr. Lake’s wisdom and advice? Go after your provincial governments! What Mr. Lake does not mention is that not all governments have the cash resources to provide the treatment. And he has the nerve to smear Charlottetown MP Shawn Murphy for daring to bring the bill to the floor of the House of Commons? You can claim to care and advocate for autistic children in Canada Mr. Lake. Few parents of autistic children in Canada will believe your audacious claim.

The response of FEAT BC to Mr. Lake’s audacious betrayal of autistic children follows:

Ottawa’s Ongoing Refusal to Provide Autism Health Care
Why Federal Conservatives and Mike Lake MP are Wrong in Killing Bill C-304!

On February 21, 2007, MPs were asked after several hours of debate at Second Reading to vote on whether to refer Bill C-304 to the Committee Stage for detailed examination or whether to kill the Bill. Regrettably, the Conservative and Bloc Quebecois MPs ganged up to kill it, along with any hope that families with children afflicted by autism may have had that the discrimination against them in Canada’s Medicare system may come to an end within the foreseeable future. On that day Alberta MP Mike Lake issued a “Media Statement” explaining his motives for voting against Bill C-304 and many Conservative MPs have been sending it to parents of autistic children as an explanation of why they refused to allow the Bill to be examined by a House Committee and opted instead to defeat it. The Media Statement is a disingenuous, flawed and misleading text that must be refuted. The words in bold below are those of Mike Lake. The text in italics is the annotation.

As background, please consider this:
• The cause and cure of autism are not yet known.
• The medical and scientific community have known for over twenty years that the early diagnosis of autism combined with the immediate application of Intensive Behaviour Intervention (IBI) therapy treatment based on the principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) can lead to as many as 48% of autistic children developing to such an extent that they become indistinguishable from average kids. IBI/ABA constitutes the core healthcare need of autistic children.
• The “universality” of Medicare, one of they key five principles of the Canada Health Act (CHA), does not apply to autism. Regrettably, not one province offers the treatment under Medicare. While some provinces offer nothing, or next to nothing, others offer treatment programs under social service departments that are plagued with lack of resources and expertise, as well as unconscionable waiting lists and discriminatory age cut-offs. Of all the provinces Alberta is considered to be the most helpful to parents in terms of financial assistance and access to treatment, and many parents have opted to move to Alberta solely because of their child’s autism.

MEDIA STATEMENT of MIKE LAKE, MP dated February 21, 2007

To Whom It May Concern,

Tonight, I will vote on a Private Member’s Bill titled “An Act to provide for the development of a national strategy for the treatment of autism and amend the Canada Health Act.”

I have a son with autism. I have heard from countless other parents of children with autism, virtually all of whom are wholeheartedly encouraging me and my colleagues in all parties to support this bill. There is nobody who wants to help these families more than I do. Nobody.

Mr. Lake here conveniently omitted making any reference to the reason why “countless” parents were encouraging him to support Bill C-304. Any discussion of whether and how to address a problem has to begin with some discussion of the nature of the problem. The fact is that Medicare has a huge discriminatory gap. Between the time that Bill C-304 was tabled (May 17, 2006) and defeated, the U.S. Centres for Disease Control (CDC) has reported that the prevalence rate of autism has increased (again). 1 in every 150 children can be expected to be diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In response to this growing public health crisis the U.S. government passed the ”Combating Autism Act” which will pour an additional $1 billion over five years into improved autism diagnosis, treatment and research. In contrast, the Canadian government adopted an ostrich approach to crisis management.

If I were to vote to support Bill C-304, some parents of children with autism would be very happy with me; my colleagues who disagree with me would support me because of my unique family experience; my constituents would applaud my compassion and sympathize with me; and there seemingly would be no downside.

The problem is this. Bill C-304 is bad legislation. It proposes an ad hoc amendment to the Canada Health Act that changes the entire meaning of the document. It would set a precedent that would eventually undermine the entire Canadian health care system when taken to its logical extension.

If there are some flaws with a proposed piece of legislation, but its underlying purpose and intent are valid and good, then why not try to fix it at the committee stage and propose amendments? Why not offer positive alternatives, instead of killing the Bill?

The clairvoyance about the death of Medicare is a shameful attempt at fear mongering that is akin to saying the doomsday clock will move a minute closer to midnight if autistic children get access to public health insurance. Bill C-304 contains two parts. The first, which Mr. Lake completely omitted making any reference to, would require the Minister of Health to meet with his provincial counterparts and develop a National Autism Strategy and require that he table the plan of action. If this part of the Bill was not a problem, then why not support it or at least propose an amendment or alternative Bill that would contain this part? Candour would necessitate that at least this first element of the Bill be recognized for what it is: something that is long overdue and that would be good if it finally happened.

Regarding the proposed amendment to the CHA, what is this “logical extension” that Mr. Lake is referring to? He provides no explanation of why such an amendment would undermine the “entire” Medicare system or justification for his hyperbole. The sky will not fall any more than the institution of marriage collapsed after the legalization of same-sex marriage.

If this Bill were to pass, autism would be the one and only disorder or disease named in the Canada Health Act. Cancer is not named. Neither is diabetes or cardiovascular disease. Why autism and not these? Why not Down Syndrome? Why not Schizophrenia?

In the interpretive section of the CHA, there are named services specified under “extended health care services”. Moreover, the regulations provide some of the operational rules for the CHA. If it had the will to fix the autism treatment problem, the federal government certainly has more than enough levers, legal and financial, to get the job done.

Mr. Lake misses the point about adding autism treatment to the CHA. Cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, etc. are already dealt with and covered by Medicare. If you feel sick you go to the hospital and if you are diagnosed with cancer you get treatment. Medicare covers the core healthcare needs of those Canadians who suffer from those medical problems. However, autism is not covered. Medicare discriminates against those who suffer from autism by not providing the recognized core treatment. That’s why the autism community has pursued every avenue it could to get autism treatment into Medicare, including this one.

Under the Canada Health Act, the provinces are clearly responsible for decisions on which medical treatments they will fund. If we are to maintain the integrity of the Act, only the provinces can make those decisions.

While it is true that the provinces have the right to decide which treatments to cover, they do not have the right to decide which people to cover or not cover. Everyone must be in Medicare for his or her core health needs. The functional effect of not funding autism treatment is that the provinces exclude from Medicare an entire (and growing), identifiable group of Canadians.

Mr. Lake argument here is a classic illustration of obstinate thinking. If a statutory amendment will affect other parties, the traditional Canadian procedure is to consult with those parties and attempt to develop consensus. Negotiations occasionally result in surprising and positive outcomes, as was the case with the Health Accord of September 2004, which involved billions of dollars and specified specific medical services (except autism). There is a crisis, which by any measure is an epidemic, and the federal government has had 11 consecutive years of budget surpluses. There is no reason why the federal Minister of Health could not raise this matter and the potential amendment with his provincial counterparts. If this element of the Bill is so problematic, why not have the Standing Committee on Health examine the Bill and explore alternatives such as the “Combating Autism Act” in the U.S.? Regrettably, now that Bill C-304 is dead no House committee will have a chance to explore the feasibility of this process or alternatives.

In my opinion, it is completely unacceptable for any province not to fund Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) for those who need it. If voters feel as strongly as I do about this, they must let their provincial governments know and then hold them accountable at election time.

This argument is clearly specious. It is exceedingly difficult for a minority (e.g. families struggling with autism) to “hold government accountable” for any specific policy failings, including the healthcare neglect of their children. They simply do not have enough votes to do what Mr. Lake says.

The autism community has nonetheless been letting the provincial governments know for years about the need for ABA in Medicare and the responses have always been inadequate. Time and again, in practically every province, and with every political party, the matter has either been ignored, or excuses have been proffered with crocodile tears, or, as was the case in Ontario during the last election, promises were made that were broken. For example, former Opposition Leader Dalton McGuinty stated in writing during the last election in a letter to a mother of an autistic child that the age six cut-off from treatment in Ontario was discrimination and that if he was elected he would do away with it. Once he became Premier he not only continued the practice, he continued litigating a case on the issue. When the government lost at the Superior Court he immediately announced an appeal to the Court of Appeal. When the “Auton”case from BC was heard before the Supreme Court of Canada in 2004 every province and the federal government intervened against the kids being able to access treatment in Medicare. The fact is that the provinces have been negligent and irresponsible on the autism file and federal leadership is needed. If Mr. Lake feels as strongly about this as he says, what has he done to address the crisis (apart from contributing to the death of Bill C-304)?

The sad thing is that Shawn Murphy, the Liberal Member of Parliament who is sponsoring this Bill, knows all of this. He has been in Parliament since 2000 and would never have supported this piece of legislation when he was in government.

Children with autism need treatment. Accusatory personal arguments among politicians is not going to help. The autism community is not naïve. Political parties frequently make promises and fail to fulfill them. What any MP would have done yesterday is not relevant to the February 21, 2007 vote on whether to refer Bill C-304 to the Committee stage. The autism community is grateful that Bill C-304 was tabled in the House and that its contents had to be addressed.

What he apparently doesn’t understand is that this is not an appropriate “wedge issue” to exploit for political gain. These are real people, with real challenges, who are absolutely desperate for real solutions. This Private Member’s Bill gives false hope to families who deserve so much more than to be treated as pawns in some political game.

It is highly inappropriate to call the wholesale healthcare neglect of tens of thousands of Canadian children a “wedge issue”. This trivializes and minimizes what is in fact a catastrophic issue for families who are going broke and/or falling apart trying to pay for medically necessary autism treatment on their own.

Before Mr. Lake starts to accuse anyone of spreading false hopes he should take a look at his own Party. They are the governing party now with the hands on the levers of power. They cannot blame anyone else if they used false hopes to get into power with no intention of using it as stated. The Conservatives ran in the last election (2006) on Healthcare and Childcare. Autistic kids need both. The Conservative platform certainly provided hope. Now we know it was false.

Before the election many of his Conservative colleagues attended autism rallies on Parliament Hill and spoke about the need to do something, including speaking at press conferences, including Colin Carrie, Steven Fletcher, Pierre Poilievre, Gary Goodyear, Peter Goldring, Guy Lauzon, Stockwell Day, Randy Kamp, Gord Brown, James Lunney, Mark Warawa, Scott Reid, Carol Skelton, and Marjory LeBreton.

Pierre Poilievre had an Op-Ed article of his published in “The Hill Times” in March 2005 in which he accused the then government of a “shameful low in Liberal hypocrisy” for intervening in the “Auton” case against autistic children. He further went on to say ”So what can be done? We must amend the Health Act so Medicare will include effective, scientifically validated autism treatment for children with autism;” Now that Pierre Poilievre is a Cabinet Minister and voted against this amendment with his caucus, shall we call it a “new low in Conservative hypocrisy”?

On the first anniversary of the “Auton” decision Alberta MP Peter Goldring spoke at an autism rally on Parliament Hill and issued a November 17, 2005 press release titled “Golding calls for funding for early autism treatment: federal government has national role” in which he stated “the current situation of no financial contribution from the federal government, specifically dedicated to the early treatment of autism, is unacceptable”. He further added, ”The true measure of a government is in how it treats its citizens who are most in need. At present, in terms of the needs of the many autistic children across Canada, our federal government measures very poorly. Things must change, soon”.

Similarly, B.C. MP Randy Kamp also attended the rally and issued a press release (November 21, 2005) in which he stated “Minister Dosanjh has been unsupportive of autism groups since his days as Premier of B.C. I understand their frustration with him. As the federal Health Minister, he now has an opportunity to do the right thing and I call upon him to have compassion for autistic children and move forward with a National Autism Strategy”.

On a more positive note, in 2006 Mr. Murphy’s Liberal colleague, Andy Scott introduced a Private Member’s Motion, M-172, on a national strategy for autism. To his credit, Mr. Scott designed his motion not to divide the House, but to build consensus among members of all parties. Mr. Scott’s carefully considered motion chose to focus on areas within the federal realm, and the Government (and the vast majority of members of the House) agreed with him – with a few minor amendments.

The fact is that a motion is not binding and is not law. The motion was watered down by the Conservatives who insisted on amendments to the original motion in order to make it palatable enough to support. The passage of the motion was historic but no one is expecting it to result in any government action and certainly no meaningful improvements with respect to access to treatment.

What is interesting in terms of action is that after almost a full year of sending letters to parents saying that autism is a provincial issue and has nothing to do with the federal government, the day before a previously announced FEAT BC autism rally on Parliament Hill in late November, 2006, the federal Health Minister Tony Clement held a press conference which he began by stating that the autism situation is now so serious, that doing nothing was “not an option”. He proceeded to outline five new autism initiatives that by his own description are “modest”. To many in the autism community, that is an inflated exaggeration. “Exploring the establishment of a research chair”, holding a “symposium” and creating a website will not help a single autistic child get access to treatment anytime soon. The autism community is tired of feigned consultation, showcase conferences, website window-dressing and motions with no teeth. Our kids need treatment.

When I first saw Mr. Murphy’s Private Member’s Bill I suggested to him that perhaps he might consider changing his course and introduce something that would build on what was done by Mr. Scott rather than play politics. Mr. Murphy’s actions obviously demonstrate that he is not focused on helping families dealing with autism. My sincere hope is that every other Member of Parliament will put the interest of these families ahead of their own political ambition.

Rhetoric and personal attacks aside, why won’t Mike Lake change his own course and actually do something for autism? What has Mike Lake done to promote the interests of the autism community besides standing with his autistic son next to Minister Clement during the November 2006 press conference or providing MPs in his party with this empty letter to justify the continuation of what most Canadians consider intolerable.

In a December 2004 Ipsos-Reid public opinion poll 84% of Canadians indicated that they supported the inclusion of autism treatment in Medicare. Has Mike Lake organized any information/education sessions for other MPs about autism and the needs of the autism community? Has he contacted autism groups with a view to consulting on a strategic approach to advancing the community’s interests? Has he tabled any motion or Private Members’ Bill of his own? Has he lobbied to get the treatment of autism on the agenda of the Standing House Committee on Health? Etc… If so, he has not made it public.

What we do know is that in 2004 an autism treatment petition was drafted and posted at http://www.CanadaAutism.com and that the community supplied thousands of signatures on the petition to MPs for tabling in the House. The petition calls on the government to create a graduate level teaching chair in IBI/ABA at a university in each province and to include autism treatment in Medicare. The petition was tabled 88 times by dozens of MPs. Shortly after his arrival in Ottawa Mike Lake met in his new offices with two members of the community. He was presented with several signed pages of the petition. Although tabling a petition is not synonymous with supporting a petition, Mike Lake is the only MP we are aware of who took a look at the autism petition and immediately gave it back stating that he refused to table it.

Personally, I am determined to fulfill my commitment to families dealing with autism as stated in my maiden speech in the House of Commons, “that I will do everything that I can do to promote action to the full extent that the federal government can play a role within its area of authority.”

And what has Mike Lake done to date? What specifically will Mike Lake do in the future? What action is he referring to (besides voting against Bill C-304 and criticizing the MP who tabled it)?

As I mentioned in the opening paragraphs of this statement, the easy decision for me would be to vote in favour of this legislation. However, I was not elected to make the easy decisions. I was elected to make the right decisions, and in this case the right decision is to vote against Bill C-304.

Wrong. The easiest thing is to vote against change and to preserve the status quo. The hardest thing is to promote change and improvement in institutions where the culture is one of a herd mentality. Doing what the Party leaders tell you to do is easy. Voting against their wishes is what takes courage and is considerably harder. The right decision would have been to vote in favour of sending the Bill to the Committee Stage for a review and examination there of the problem and whether the Bill is the best means to solve it. By voting against the Bill, we will have no National Autism Strategy and certainly no treatment in Medicare anytime soon. However, since the Conservatives came to power, the federal government has on a regular basis been announcing the creation of a National Cancer Strategy, a National Heart Health Strategy, a National Spinal Cord Rehabilitation Research Strategy, etc. Why is it that certain medical conditions are more attractive to the federal Conservatives and more deserving of special status than autism? The autism community is seeking equality and equal access. Nothing more, nothing less. If disabled children cannot count on Mike Lake and the Conservative Party for equality, can you?

For more information about the discriminatory exclusion of children with autism from Medicare,
please call Families for Early Autism Treatment of British Columbia (FEAT BC) at 604-534-6956
http://featbc.org

March 8, 2007 Posted by | autism disorder, Canada Health Act, Conservative Party, FEAT BC, medicare, Mike Lake | Leave a comment

Harper & Duceppe Defend Canada, Quebec Against Autistic Children


Above are pictures of Stephen Harper, who stood up for Canada yesterday, and Gilles Duceppe, who defended the Nation of Quebec yesterday, against the threat posed by autistic children in need of treatment by ordering their troops to vote down MP Shawn Murphy‘s private member’s motion calling for a National Autism Strategy. The motion sought amendment of the Canada Health Act to ensure that autistic children in Canada, no matter where they resided, would received funding for treatment. Congratulations to these two brave and compassionate leaders for fending off this horrendous challenge to the integrity of their respective nations.

February 22, 2007 Posted by | autism disorder, Bill C-304, Canada Health Act, Gilles Duceppe, national autism strategy, Quebec, Shawn Murphy, Stephen Harper | 3 Comments

Bill C-304 Defeated, Conservatives, Bloc Quebecois Spurn Help for Autistic Children

Bill C-304, the private member’s motion brought by Charlottetown Liberal MP Shawn Murphy was defeated by the Harper Conservative-Bloc Quebecois coalition party in the House of Commons today. The Bloc and Conservatives spurned this attempt to seriously address the plight of autistic children in Canada today. Amongst those who stood firm against help autistic children were New Brunswick Conservatives Rob Moore (Fundy Royal), Greg Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest) and Mike Allen (Tobique-Mactaquac). Well done gentlemen, you may have abandoned the autistic children of your ridings but you stood proudly for your party above all. And what could be more important?

HOUSE OF COMMONS OF CANADA
39th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION CHAMBRE DES COMMUNES DU CANADA
39e LÉGISLATURE, 1re SESSION
Journals

No. 115 (Unrevised)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007
1:00 p.m.

Journaux

No 115 (Non révisé)

Le mercredi 21 février 2007
13 heures

Private Members’ Business
Affaires émanant des députés

Pursuant to Standing Order 93(1), the House proceeded to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion of Mr. Murphy (Charlottetown), seconded by Mr. Szabo (Mississauga South), — That Bill C-304, An Act to provide for the development of a national strategy for the treatment of autism and to amend the Canada Health Act, be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Health.

Conformément à l’article 93(1) du Règlement, la Chambre procède au vote par appel nominal différé sur la motion de M. Murphy (Charlottetown), appuyé par M. Szabo (Mississauga-Sud), — Que le projet de loi C-304, Loi prévoyant l’élaboration d’une stratégie nationale pour le traitement de l’autisme et modifiant la Loi canadienne sur la santé, soit maintenant lu une deuxième fois et renvoyé au Comité permanent de la santé.

The question was put on the motion and it was negatived on the following division:

La motion, mise aux voix, est rejetée par le vote suivant :

(Division No. 122 — Vote no 122)

YEAS: 113, NAYS: 155

POUR : 113, CONTRE : 155

YEAS — POUR
Alghabra
Angus
Atamanenko
Bagnell
Bains
Barnes
Beaumier
Bélanger
Bell (Vancouver Island North)
Bevilacqua
Bevington
Black
Blaikie
Bonin
Boshcoff
Brison
Brown (Oakville)
Cannis
Chamberlain
Chan
Charlton
Christopherson
Coderre
Comartin
Cotler
Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley)
Cuzner
D’Amours
Davies
Dhaliwal
Dion
Dryden
Easter
Eyking
Folco
Fry
Godfrey
Godin
Goodale
Graham
Guarnieri
Holland
Ignatieff
Julian
Kadis
Karetak-Lindell
Karygiannis
Keeper
LeBlanc
Lee
MacAulay
Malhi
Maloney
Marleau
Marston
Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca)
Martin (Winnipeg Centre)
Martin (Sault Ste. Marie)
Masse
Mathyssen
Matthews
McCallum
McDonough
McGuinty
McGuire
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
McTeague
Merasty
Minna
Murphy (Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe)
Murphy (Charlottetown)
Nash
Neville
Owen
Pacetti
Patry
Pearson
Peterson
Priddy
Proulx
Ratansi
Redman
Regan
Robillard
Rota
Russell
Savage
Savoie
Scarpaleggia
Scott
Sgro
Siksay
Silva
Simard
Simms
St. Amand
St. Denis
Steckle
Stoffer
Stronach
Szabo
Telegdi
Temelkovski
Thibault (West Nova)
Tonks
Turner
Valley
Volpe
Wasylycia-Leis
Wilfert
Wilson
Wrzesnewskyj
Zed
Total: — 113

NAYS — CONTRE
Abbott
Ablonczy
Albrecht
Allen
Allison
Ambrose
Anders
Anderson
Arthur
Bachand
Baird
Batters
Bellavance
Bernier
Bezan
Blackburn
Blais
Bonsant
Bouchard
Boucher
Bourgeois
Breitkreuz
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Barrie)
Bruinooge
Brunelle
Calkins
Cannan (Kelowna—Lake Country)
Cannon (Pontiac)
Cardin
Carrie
Carrier
Casey
Casson
Chong
Cummins
Davidson
Day
DeBellefeuille
Del Mastro
Demers
Deschamps
Devolin
Doyle
Dykstra
Emerson
Epp
Faille
Fast
Finley
Fitzpatrick
Flaherty
Fletcher
Freeman
Galipeau
Gallant
Gaudet
Gauthier
Goldring
Goodyear
Gourde
Gravel
Grewal
Guay
Guergis
Guimond
Hanger
Harris
Harvey
Hawn
Hearn
Hiebert
Hill
Hinton
Jaffer
Jean
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret’s)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Khan
Komarnicki
Kotto
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Laframboise
Lake
Lauzon
Lavallée
Lemay
Lemieux
Lessard
Lévesque
Lukiwski
Lunn
Lunney
Lussier
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Manning
Mayes
Ménard (Hochelaga)
Ménard (Marc-Aurèle-Fortin)
Menzies
Merrifield
Miller
Mills
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Nadeau
Nicholson
Norlock
O’Connor
Obhrai
Oda
Ouellet
Pallister
Paradis
Perron
Petit
Picard
Poilievre
Prentice
Preston
Rajotte
Reid
Richardson
Ritz
Schellenberger
Shipley
Skelton
Smith
Solberg
Sorenson
St-Cyr
St-Hilaire
Stanton
Storseth
Strahl
Sweet
Thibault (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques)
Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest)
Thompson (Wild Rose)
Toews
Trost
Tweed
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Vellacott
Vincent
Wallace
Wappel
Warawa
Warkentin
Watson
Williams
Yelich
Total: — 155

PAIRED — PAIRÉS
Barbot
Benoit
Bigras
Clement
Duceppe
Laforest
Lalonde
Malo
Mark
Scheer
Tilson
Verner

February 21, 2007 Posted by | autism disorder, bloc quebecois, Canada Health Act, conservatives, national autism strategy | 4 Comments

ASNB President Asks MP’s to Support C-304 Autism Strategy Bill

Peter Mackay, Rob Moore, Greg.Thompson, Mike Allen,
Mark Eyking, Andy Scott, Charles Hubbard

Dear Member of Parliament,

Re: Support for Bill C-304 Autism Strategy Bill

As a mother of an autistic child, I ask you to vote in support of Bill
C-304 when the Bill is subject to a vote in the House of Commons. Bill C-304,
the “National Strategy for the Treatment of Autism Act” is of critical
importance to families with members who suffer from autism. The Centres
for Disease Control in the U.S. just recently reported that the prevalence
rates of Autism Spectrum Disorders have increased to 1 in 150. By any
standard this is a national public health crisis. Yet, not one province offers
the core healthcare treatment for autism under Medicare and there is no
National Autism Strategy to deal with this growing epidemic.

The government has recently made announcements of a National Cancer Strategy, National Heart Health Strategy, National Spinal Cord Rehabilitation Strategy, etc.
Although the federal government announced some autism consultation initiatives
in November 2006 and supported a motion for a National Autism Strategy in
December 2006, these are non-binding and largely symbolic window
dressing. Words are not enough. We need action. Please vote to refer Bill C-304
to the next stage in the approval process and let the Committee examine the
Bill and do its work. Please urge your fellow MPs to support the Bill. Thank
you.

To use the excuse, autism health care falls under provincial
jurisdiction is no more than a cop-out.

Respectfully,

Lila Barry, President
Autism Society New Brunswick

February 18, 2007 Posted by | autism disorder, c-304, Canada Health Act, jurisdiction, national autism strategy, public health | Leave a comment

Dear Conservative MP’s – Please Vote FOR Autistic Children

M. Allen, B. Casey, G. Keddy
P. Mackay,R. Moore, G. Thompson
F. Manning, L.Hearn

Dear Honourable Members of Parliament

As Conservative Members of Parliament you will probably be directed to vote NO to Charlottetown Liberal MP Shawn Murphy’s private member’s motion calling for a National Autism Strategy including amendments to the Canada Health Act to help ensure that, regardless of where they live in Canada, autistic children will have access to government funded early interventions which are evidence based and proven effective in dramatically improving their lives. Senior members of your party have indicated that constitutional jurisdiction precludes endorsing this proposal. With respect, I think you all know differently. Cooperative federalism has long ago rid this country of self imposed timidity in the face of challenges which although originating in fields within provincial jurisdiction reach across provincial boundaries and abilities limit all Canadians. Without cooperative federalism there would be no Canada Health Act to begin with and Atlantic Canada would look much different today and not for the better.

The truth is that 1 in 150 children in YOUR riding, based on Center for Disease Controls most recent estimates, have some form of autism spectrum disorder. Autism, despite movies about individuals who have accomplished great feats, is, for most persons with autism, a debilitating disorder marked by very limited communication skills, aggressive , even life threatening, self injurious behaviour and a life of institutional care. Many of the 1 in 150 children with autism disorder in your riding will be confronted by these realities.

I have a son with classic autism disorder who is described by his pediatrician as profoundly autistic but I choose to speak of some of these painful realities because I believe that his life and others like him can be improved dramatically by facing these realities and providing evidence based treatment and education. Hugs are good, but hugs are not enough. Kind words are appreciated but kind words work no miracles. Evidence based interventions, supported by literally hundreds of serious studies, will dramatically improve the lives of the autistic children in your riding. But such intervention is expensive and requires government funded assistance to ensure that all children receive this medically necessary help.

Although your party will undoubtedly instruct you to vote no, I ask you to vote your conscience on Shawn Murphy’s national autism strategy motion. Atlantic Canadian conservatives have historically shown both independence of thought and action and a keen social conscience. From Robert Stanfield to Richard Hatfield Atlantic conservatives have not been reluctant to help those who most needed help. I ask you to consider that tradition of social conscience and help the autistic children in your riding by voting YES to Shawn Murphy’s private member’s motion for a National Autism Strategy and amendments to the Canada Health Act.

Respectfully,

Harold L Doherty
Fredericton NB
Conor’s Dad

February 17, 2007 Posted by | Applied Behavior Analysis, autism, autism disorder, autism interventions, Canada Health Act, national autism strategy, Shawn Murphy | Leave a comment