Sunday, April 15, 2007

Vancouver Province Calls for National Autism Strategy

The Vancouver Province has issued a call for a national autism strategy, including an amendment to the Canada Health Act to include autism as an insured health service. One omission from the Province's statement is the need to address the plight of autistic adults particularly those living a custodial existence in mental health care and residential facilities. Still the Province's call for a national autism strategy provides much needed support in the struggle to improve the lives of Canada's autistic population and is appreciated by this father of a severely autistic boy.

A national strategy is urgently needed for autism victims

The Province

Published: Sunday, April 15, 2007

Advocates for the estimated 200,000 Canadians suffering from the neurological disorder known as autism suffered another setback last week in their campaign for greater government support.

A court battle launched by 28 Ontario families to try to get their provincial government to fund treatment for their autistic children ground to a halt when the Supreme Court of Canada declined to hear arguments in the case.


The help they get depends on where they live. Alberta, for example, pays up to $60,000 a year to age 18 for treatment. But B.C. pays $20,000 a year to age six and only $6,000 a year thereafter.

B.C. Liberal MP Blair Wilson, who campaigns for autism victims, says such inequity is unacceptable. We agree, and endorse a Senate committee's call last month for a federal-provincial conference to develop a national strategy for autism, which now affects one in 200 children.

The plan should include an awareness campaign, plus more money for research and tax breaks for victims' families. One sweeping solution would be to amend the Canada Health Act to include autism as an insured health service.

We are well aware that the additional burden on health costs would be considerable and would have to be weighed against competing priorities.

But, as a caring nation, we have a moral obligation to do what is right.

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