Sunday, August 24, 2008

Tony Clement's Empty Autism Rhetoric

At a stop in Big River Saskatchewan alleged federal Health Minister Tony Clement took questions on federal health care initiatives including some from Carolyn Forsey the mother of an autistic child. Ms Forsey had previously written to Health Minister Clement urging the federal government to create a strategy for autism.

Minister Clement responded, as reported on Meadow Lake Progress:

Minister Clement said that there’s some initiatives the federal government have been working on, but the partnership must be created with provincial health care entities first.

“We do have national focuses, but it’s not as if we can take over what the provincial responsibility is,” he said.

“We create a table where we can share best practices, we can work on surveillance together, on human resources together. We still focus on research end of things and the provinces focus on the treatment. That’s how our tables work. It’s the way our national cancer strategy is working and our national diabetes strategy is working.”

The fact is the current federal government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Health Minister Tony Clement has done little to help autistic children and adults in Canada. Constitutional authority for health care is primarily provincial. But the federal government has substantial spending power which it is not prohibited from using in health care areas. That is how we have a Canada Health Act.

Canadians do not need the federal government to "share best practices". That is pure nonsense. Best practice information is readily available on the internet and from world sources. The "national autism symposium", rescheduled from an earlier date to avoid participation from autism parent advocates, was a sham, a "facilitated" discussion with strong parent advocates excluded, the results of which do not resemble the internationally known and respected sources such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the New York State Department of Health, the MADSEC (Maine) Autism Task Force Report and the US Surgeon General's Office.

What the federal government could do to be helpful in addressing Canada's autism crisis is exactly what is needed. It could use the federal spending power. It could loosen federal purse strings and use its spending authority to make funding available to the provinces for evidence based interventions for autism. That would be a huge step forward in ensuring that autistic Canadian children across Canada would receive the help they need - regardless of where their parents live at any given moment.

Instead of the funding help that is needed to ensure that autism interventions can be offered across Canada the alleged Health Minister, Tony Clement, prefers to do nothing. While autistic children grow older, without the help they need, federal Health Minister Tony Clement offers nothing but empty rhetoric.

No comments: