Thursday, November 08, 2007

Autism and the Saskatchewan Party Government

The Saskatchewan Party will now form the government of Saskatchewan which, despite a booming economy, has done nothing of substance to help autistic children receive treatment. The defeated NDP government did nothing to address autism treatment issues and many Saskatchewan residents have moved next door to Alberta so their autistic children could receive treatment.

One thing that is abundantly clear in Canada over the past decade is that autism is not a partisan issue. Governments of all political stripes, including the just defeated NDP government of Saskatchewan, have been indifferent at times to the plight of autistic children and adults. Here in New Brunswick it was the previous Bernard Lord Conservative government that first began to take serious steps to help autistic children with pre-school funding for evidence based autism treatment, and that effort is being carried forward now by the Shawn Graham Liberal government in New Brunswick schools where Teacher Aides and Resource teachers are receiving quality autism training at the UNB-CEL Autism Intervention Training program.

Federally the Chretien-Martin Liberals did nothing to help autistic children or adults in Canada while in power. And the NDP did nothing to push a minority Liberal government to address autism issues. In opposition the Liberal Party led by Andy Scott and Shawn Murphy and the NDP led by Peter Stoffer have committed to implementing a National Autism Strategy. Now it is the current Conservative government and an obstructionist separatist party which has indicated they will do nothing of substance to help address autism issues.

Autism was not discussed by campaigning political candidates in the Saskatchewan election as it was in Ontario recently. The Saskatchewan Party is reported to be a right of center party. That may mean something, or it may mean nothing, in terms of its willingness to help the autistic population of Saskatchewan. The one lesson that is clear from history is that autism is NOT a partisan issue. All parties have ignored autism issues for years but change has begun for the better in several jurisdictions by governments bearing different political labels.

Hopefully autistic children and adults will be included in the Saskatchewan of the new Saskatchewan Party government of Premier-Elect Brad Wall.

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