Wednesday, October 14, 2015

October 18, 2003: Andy Scott Called for a Strong National Autism Strategy; Will October 19, 2015 Deliver A Government That Will Make It Happen?

Andy Scott called for a REAL National Autism Strategy that would ensure treatment for autism 12 years ago,  Munson, Thibeault, and Stoffer have continued the fight tirelessy. Will October 19 bring Canadians a government prepared to make it happen?

Some good work has been done during this current election campaign in drawing politicians attention to the need for a REAL National Autism Strategy.  The Medicare for Autism Now's 1 in 58 campaign has produced considerable discussion in a number of selected ridings.  In Saskatchewan Shannon Hill and the PAAT group have engaged federal and political politicians.  Hopefully the government elected October 19 will do more than shell out money for a do nothing committee with no serious mandate like the Harper Party did during the past year.  The Green, NDP and Liberal Parties have all expressed some support for a National Autism Strategy that includes efforts to ensure that evidence based ABA treatment for autism will be covered by Medicare across Canada as Andy Scott called for 12 years ago. 

Following is text from a commentary I posted in 2010  which records  Andy Scott's call as reported by Tali Folkins in the Telegraph Journal and also acknowledges the tireless efforts of Senator Jim Munson, Nova Scotia NDP MP Peter Stoffer and former NDP MP Glenn Thibeault as reported by 


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.”, Ottawa, March 31, 2010

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.

Glenn Thibeault,  March 30 2010

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.”

Peter Stoffer, March 30 2010

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