Monday, April 02, 2007
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.
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