Autism Reality

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

National Autism Political Strategy, Dartmouth, May 26, 2007











Yesterday began early up at 5, off to gas up and then on the road to the Dartmouth Holiday Inn to meet the folks from FEAT-BC as part of their national autism strategy tour. Above, the charming ladies at the registration desk got everybody signed in and welcomed. My sister, Belinda Doherty, and Chris (aka Jim aka Bruce ) Armstrong arrive from the Valley. (Annapolis Valley), Shawn Murphy, Senator Jim Munson and Andy Scott exchange pleasantries, Andy and Jean Lewis from FEAT-BC, Denise Cameron Scott TRIES to grab a relaxing moment after a long journey but is bothered by a pesky blogger, Brian Rimpilaenan travelled from Fredericton for the event, and last but far from least, Peter Stoffer, who with Andy Scott in presenting a national autism strategy motion in the House of Commons cleans up on the door prize a beautiful piece of art by a BC First Nations artist.

It was a great day and the message we all shared was crystal clear. It is time for the autism community in Canada to GET POLITICAL. The courts have, as was noted in some of the speeches, washed their hands of Canada’s vulnerable autistic citizens. For autistic children in Canada section 15 has been turned into an empty and hollow promise by the Supreme Court of Canada decisions in Auton and Deskin-Wyneberg. Political solutions are all that is left and political solutions, as past history in BC and Ontario has shown, will not come easy, with politicians, once elected, backtracking on and backing out of their promises. For some unknown reason judges and political leaders both feel free to disregard the compelling realities, needs and challenges of Canada’s autistic children and adults.

But politics remains the only solution and there has been progress, real progress, on the national political scene. The Scott-Stoffer motion put autism in the national political consciousness. The valian effort by Shawn Murphy was defeated on the votes but it continued that growth of political consciousness, and continued the momentum towards a true national political solution to Canada’s autism crisis.

The FEAT people intend to focus on ridings where the margin of victory in the last election was 2% or less and work on electing candidates with a commitment to autism. That looks like it will achieve some good results but it is not enough. Individual MP’s do not establish laws or otherwise govern in our party based parliamentary democracy. Parties, usually under tight Prime Ministerial direction, govern in Canada. That means the autism community must help elect parties that WILL introduce legislation to include ABA, and any other evidence based treatments for autism, in Canada’s national medicare coverage scheme. As Murphy, Munson, Stoffer and Scott all noted, that can be done in Canada’s cooperative form of federalism regardess of who has primary constitutional jurisdiction over Health care.

But our political history is clear on this subject. Medicare was an idea borne of the NDP (CCF) and was put into effect by the Liberals. More recently the Bloc Quebecois and Stephen Harper’s Neo-Con Conservatives all voted unanimously against including autism treatment in medicare. Any realistic national political strategy must acknowledge these realities. And we must be candid with the autism community and with Canadians. As a dad with an autistic son my party is the Autism Party which exists only in my mind and my heart, but guides my political actions. And it tells me that the best interests of autistic Canadians will be served by electing Liberals and NDP members of parliament so that one or either or both in a minority government situation, can actually pass legislation to include autism treatment coverage in Medicare. Let’s GET POLITICAL, let’s elect a government which will include autism treatment in Medicare so that autistic Canadians wherever they live will receive effective government funded autism treatment.

Thanks to Jim Young of FEAT-NS whose province hosted this event and the folks from FEAT-BC who have done so much for the cause of autism in Canada. Special thanks too, to the politicians with consciences, Andy Scott, Peter Stoffer, Shawn Murphy and Jim Munson, all of whom have made serious efforts to advance the cause of autism nationally.

May 27, 2007 Posted by | Andy Scott, FEAT BC, Jean Lewis, Jim Munson, Jim Young, national autism strategy, Peter Stoffer, Shawn Murphy, Stephen Harper | 1 Comment

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

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

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