The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
Dear Honourable Prime Minister
I have read the arguments by members of your party stating that provincial constitutional jurisdiction over health care precludes amendment of the Canada Health Act to require funding of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) for autistic children in each province in Canada, one of the provisions featured in Charlottetown MP Shawn Murphy's private member's motion. With respect Mr. Prime Minister the argument is a non starter. Such amendments would be no more, nor less constitutional, than the Canada Health Act itself. There is no question that the federal government could not by force of law alone require specific treatments in the provinces, even to address a debilitating disorder which is beyond the scope of many provinces. But the federal government can legislate requirements for provincial receipt of federal funding and a requirement to address treatment for one of societies most vulnerable groups of citizens - autistic children - should offend no court's sensibilities. And it would not be unduly confrontational for the federal government to simply legislate that funding would be made available federally to each province which is prepared to provide costly, but effective, ABA treatment for autistic children.
The effectiveness of ABA as a treatment intervention for autism is backed quite literally by hundreds of studies and by the opinions of experts who actually work with autistic children including the experts who gave advice to the office of the US Surgeon General, state agencies in Maine, New York and California, and by the experts on the advisory board of the Association for Science in Autism Treatment. In the court proceedings in Auton the court's decision to require provincial funding of ABA for autism was overturned by the Supreme Court of Canada but the experts at trial were in agreement that ABA is the treatment of choice for autism - there is no effective evidence based alternative.
Mr. Prime Minister you have spoken often of values. I ask you that you release MPs in your party to vote their consciences and vote based on their values in today's expected vote on Mr. Shawn Murphy's National Autism Strategy vote. You are the Prime Minister for all Canadians including autistic children. I ask that you act in accordance with your title as the Right Honourable Prime Minister of all Canadians, and do the Honourable thing for autistic children. Let your MP's vote for them in accordance with their own values.
Harold L Doherty