Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Renewed Calls for a Real National Autism Strategy

Canada does not have a real national autism strategy but it is not for lack of trying by some dedicated federal politicians  including  Liberal  Senator Jim Munson and  NDP MPs Glenn Thibeault and Peter Stoffer who     have renewed calls for a real National Autism Strategy for Canada.

The struggle for a National Autism Strategy began many years ago including here in New Brunswick where Andy Scott issued a public call for a National Autism Strategy on October 18 2003:

""Fredericton MP Andy Scott said Saturday he has been lobbying prime- minister-to-be Paul Martin for a federal program to help young children with autism. "I desperately want a national autism strategy - and let me just assure you that Paul Martin knows it," Mr. Scott told supporters at a party celebrating his 10th anniversary as an MP in Fredericton Saturday evening.

Early work by therapists with young autistic children, Mr. Scott said, can make a big difference in their capacity to lead fulfilling lives as adults - and can save money in the long run. But the costs of starting such early intervention programs are high and should be borne directly by Ottawa rather than each individual province, he said. "We have responses and therapies and so on that I genuinely believe can work," he said. "You're going to save millions of dollars over the lifetime of an autistic adult. If you can get in at the front end, you can make enormous progress.

"But it's very expensive, and there's not a lot of stuff being added to Medicare, generally - that's why we have catastrophic drug problems and other things," he said. "In the province of New Brunswick, P.E.I., or even Quebec or Ontario it's very, very expensive. The feds are going to have to step up to the plate." "

Tali Folkins, Telegraph Journal, October 20, 2003

Mr. Scott was successful in getting a commitment by the federal government to a National Autism Strategy recognized in principle but the strategy at that time did not commit to the hard action necessary to provide assistance to all parts of Canada in providing early autism intervention programs.  Even the National Autism Symposium which came out of that commitment was a sham, pure and simple, a sham.  Public autism advocates, including me were excluded from the Symposium.  Those in attendance were all screened by federal health agency involved with organizing the event to ensure that they would go along with the government's do nothing to help autistic children agenda.

Senator Munson has been literally crossing the country for several years fighting for a real national autism strategy  and he has not given up on his efforts.  He organized and  spoke in Ottawa yesterday at an event to mark World Autism Awareness Day this Friday, April 2, 2010:

“There’s no reason why we cannot treat autism within our own communities equitably across the nation,” said event organizer Senator Jim Munson. “There is a crisis and I know that we can come up with a plan to deal with the issue that is so important to all of us.”

The event was also co-hosted by  NDP MP's Glenn Thibeault and Peter Stoffer who spoke at the event.  Mr. Thibeault also  introduced a private member's bill, seconded by tireless autism advocate Peter Stoffer,  to create a real national autism strategy, one that would actually help autistic children and their families by having the federal government work with the provinces:

"Autism doesn’t discriminate based on geography.  It’s time for federal leadership to ensure that no matter where a child is born with autism, they receive equal treatment and services of the highest caliber.

I’m very pleased that my colleague has done this.  We’ve been asking for many years for the federal government to work with the provinces to develop a national autism strategy. I hope this will become a reality in the near future.

Senator Munson and MP's Thibeault and Stoffer have been fighting for a National Autism Strategy for several years.  

As World Autism Awareness Day approaches this "autism dad" says thank you.

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1 comment:

AutisticWisdom said...

Unless the federal government uses their spending powers and delivers money directly to parents to spend on autism treatments, a "national" strategy will fail. Most, if not all of the provinces in Canada have autism intervention. The problem is timely and fair access, an issue with medicare in general. Any "national" program will have the provinces opting out, taking the cash, and continuing with their current programs, using the money to help restraint their out-of-control deficits. The federal government is not the solution to this issue - we have to get the provinces to follow the example of jurisdictions like British Columbia, or we need a federal government willing to send money to parents (more likely) or fund a national agency to do this (and don't think Quebec and Alberta won't go the SCC if they tried). The "national strategy" is doomed in our fragmented federation where the provinces beat their chests to control their fiefdoms.