Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Autism Class Action Lawsuit - Ontario Court of Appeal

Autism Class Action Lawsuit

at the Court of Appeal for Ontario

(Appeal hearing on a preliminary motion)

A crucial day in court that will determine whether

we will be allowed to continue the fight for full and timely access

to ABA/IBI intervention and in the schools

Monday February 11, 2008

at 10:30am

130 Queen Street West, Toronto

(at University Avenue , just west of City Hall)

Please join us to show your support for the families

For more information, please contact: t.sagharian@sympatico.ca



Autism Class Action Lawsuit (Sagharian)

In 2004, five families representing six children with autism filed a class action lawsuit against the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Children and Youth Services, and seven school boards in Ontario for failing to provide or fund ABA/IBI (Applied Behaviour Analysis/Intensive Behavioural Intervention) in the education system or without excessive and detrimental delays.

The plaintiffs have spent their savings, mortgaged and down-sized their homes, borrowed money and taken extra jobs to fund the services that their children require. They have had to make tough decisions about which services to access when they could not get both.

The case highlights key short-comings of services to children with autism. The families are suing the government and school boards for forcing the families of children with autism to make the impossible choice between the specialized services that help children with autism develop, and their right to a public school education. The families are also challenging the extensive waitlists for the AIP (Autism Intervention Program). The families want to ensure better access to publicly funded and quality services for children with autism in Ontario . They seek a change to the current approach to autism services, as well as compensation for the expenses that they have incurred as a result of the government and school boards’ past errors.

In 2006, the government and school boards brought a motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim, and in March of 2007 a judge of the Superior Court of Justice, Mr. Justice Maurice Cullity, did strike portions of the claim. In response, the plaintiffs have appealed this decision to the Court of Appeal, with the hearing scheduled for February 11, 2008 at 10:30am.

In the aforementioned motion to strike, the government and school boards went after these families for $85,000 in legal costs. Fortunately for the families, Justice Cullity ruled in June 2007 that they should not have to pay these costs because they were raising an important public interest issue. In his decision, he stated:

"The public interest was involved not merely because this was Charter litigation but also because the community as a whole has a legitimate concern and interest in the welfare of disadvantaged children who are particularly vulnerable members of Canadian society.... It is not disputed that many of the parents have made significant financial sacrifices and have suffered serious financial consequences because of the lack of public funding for the programs they consider to be necessary for the educational and social development of their children. The fact that the Crown has now accepted a number of their contentions illustrates the value of this kind of public interest litigation and... the objectives of behavioural modification and access to justice are, I believe, sufficiently engaged to bear on the question of costs."

Autism Program in Ontario

In 1999, the province of Ontario, initially through the Ministry of Community and Social Services and now through the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, introduced the Intensive Early Intervention Program for Children with Autism (the “IEIP”, renamed the Autism Intervention Program "AIP" in August 2006) to provide services to children with autism. Initially, the program was only available to children under the age of six.

Both an Ontario Ombudsman report released in April 2004 and the report of the Office of the Provincial Auditor for Ontario in November 2004 identified several significant problems with the administration of the IEIP, including the difference between what it pays to the families and the actual cost of the treatment.

When Justice Kitely ruled in Wynberg/Deskin that the IEIP age cut-off violated the Charter’s equality guarantee under section 15(1), the government suspended the age cut-off (as of April 2005). This decision was over-turned by the Court of Appeal. Nevertheless, the IEIP/AIP has operated without discriminating based on age since Justice Kitely’s decision.

Unfortunately, the IEIP/AIP has long had a considerable waitlist that continues to result in eligible children not receiving necessary services. When the age cut-off existed, the waitlist was already so long that children would become ineligible for the program based on their age before ever receiving services. Since the elimination of the age six criterion for cut-off, the waitlists have become much lengthier, with the result that children with autism continue to be effectively denied necessary care.

The province spends millions of dollars every year on special education. In Ontario , all other children who require therapeutic or medical services are able to access services in a harmonized fashion alongside or with their education. However, when children with autism reach school age, they must either, enter a public school system that does not provide adequate education or support, where they will inevitably fail to improve and may regress, or enrol in a private program at considerable expense to their families and without the benefit of an integrated classroom setting. In contrast, children with autism in the United States are able to access ABA/IBI through the education system until the age of 21, and have been doing so for over 15 years.

Following the February 2007 recommendation in the Report of the Ministers’ Autism Spectrum Disorder Reference Group, Education Minister Kathleen Wynne announced that the Ministry would be directing school boards to provide ABA in their schools. This was an acknowledgment by the Minister that ABA was not previously being provided in school, that it could be, and that it should be. However, in a memo to school boards shortly afterwards, the Ministry indicated that ABA was already being used in some schools and that it would not be directing the use of IBI.

Then during the election campaign in the fall of 2007, the Liberal Party included in its party platform document the following promise:

“Helping more students with autism by providing $10 million to prepare schools to deliver IBI therapy on-site for the first time, a step forward made possible by our earlier decision to scrap the age-six limit for children with autism.”

Previous Autism Litigation in Canada

Auton: In 1998, families in British Columbia filed a lawsuit arguing that ABA is a medically necessary treatment and should be covered through the health care system. Although this case succeeded in the two lower courts in BC, it lost at the Supreme Court of Canada . The Supreme Court stated that the government did not have to provide ABA as ABA professionals are not registered health care practitioners and ABA is not delivered in a health care setting such as a hospital. Under provincial health care legislation, ABA could only be included as an add-on health service, in which case it would be at the discretion of the province as to how much to fund, which children would receive funding, and whether the province would fund the service at all.

Wynberg/Deskin: In Ontario, the Deskin case was filed in 1999 by a single plaintiff. This was followed by the Wynberg case filed in 2000, which eventually included 28 families. The cases were against the Ministries of Health, Education, and Social Services and were based on the Auton case. The families challenged the age cut-off in the IEIP as discriminating based on age and disability. They argued that the government acted negligently in the design and implementation of the IEIP. They also argued that the government breached their rights to life, liberty and security of the person by denying their children the benefit of an education.

When the 2004 Supreme Court decision in Auton was released, the Ontario cases had to reframe their claims, removing health and refocusing on ABA as an education issue. The Court allowed them to refocus their case, but prevented them from bringing evidence in support of this change in focus.

The Wynberg and Deskin cases succeeded at the trial court but then lost at the Ontario Court of Appeal. In denying their claims, the Court of Appeal specifically noted that it lacked significant evidence relevant to the case, including evidence related to ABA and education. It also stated that it was unfair for the comparatively small group of families participating in the case to get compensation while other families of children with autism languished. The trial judge, Justice Kitely, noted that the government had indicated that the school boards were the proper defendants to the claim and should have been a party. The families sought and were denied leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada .


Anonymous said...

[c]hildren with autism in the United States are able to access ABA/IBI through the education system until the age of 21, and have been doing so for over 15 years.

That is a gross overestimation and oversimplification of what happens in the US. Parents here go to court all the time to get ABA/IBI funded by local school districts and the services available vary widely by area.

Unknown said...

anonymous 6:43

Thank you for your comment.

Anonymous said...

You are a human being.
You are not a person, you “have” a person.
A person is your agent in commerce,. A fictitious entity to which rights and duties are ascribed.
To the government and industrialists you are an indentured slave or as the media refers to us, “consumers”.
Before you enter into the world arena let alone the Austim arena you must see where, as an individual, you stand.
Here in Ontario Canada there are over 1000 citizen children on a shameful waitlist to receive funding for ABA/IBI therapies. Time is their enemy. After four years and the Senate / Eggleton paper “Pay Now or Pay Later” and the Canadian National Autism Strategy lies dormant. (Although it is a good document , worth reading)
Canada is founded upon the principles that recognize the Supremecy of God and the Rule of Law.
Both of which are being broken by the Canadian governments both Federal and Provincial.
The Magna Carta, the British North American Act, The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the U.S. Constitution were all written to protect us from the Sovereign.

To all of us parents in the front lines all over the world “Hallelujah to Ya !
At the end of the day it’s just us, our little team and the clinic we run from our homes.

Why is the focus always only on thimerosal?
Included on this list of chemical concerns should also be formaldehyde, M.S.G., aluminum, Butylated hydroxytoluene or B.H.T. and many others.
Don’t let the mainstream media and pharma spin doctors lull you into only focusing on the thimerosal.
Remember these corporations would no doubt lose everything if a connection is made between the preservatives and the world wide vaccine programs.

Our great grandparents our grandparents and our parents were all infected with toxic preservatives through the inoculation programs.
I saw my 5yr old son’s live blood analysis taking place.
I saw live candida yeast in his blood.
I saw the heavy metals as well.
Where do you think it came from?
Leaky gut syndrome comes from the M.M.R jab.

We saw the change in our child right after the second round of vaccinations.

Freedom of the person requires not only, or not even especially, the absence of legal constraints but the presence of alternative thoughts. The most successful tyranny is not the one that uses force to assure uniformity, but the one that removes awareness of other possibilities.
I have come to the conclusion that those who benefit from any societal mechanism rarely wish to understand that mechanism, especially if it appears to grant them power or authority and understanding it or any alternatives would restrict, diminish or destroy that power apparently granted.
They live in a vapid world of learned assumptions.
Lets face it if you have acronyms after your name your whole goal is to get published and funded no matter how ridiculous your position is.
Most if not all of the researchers and their research are in the pocket of Big Pharma. They have lobbied their way into the core of our societies. I feel sorry for the caregivers who actually administer the jab and wonder how they are going to live with themselves after the truth comes out.
If we put up with this our children will be next.
It’s not the vaccines it’s the toxins therein.
A child on the spectrum is born every 20 minutes. What do they all have in common?
Wake up people.