Tuesday, December 09, 2008

An Open Autism Letter To Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff

Dear Mr. Rae and Mr. Ignatieff

I am the father of a 12 year old boy diagnosed with autistic disorder and assessed with profound developmental delays living in Fredericton, New Brunswick. I know you both are busy challenging for the leadership of the Liberal Party. I hope you both have time though to consider the importance of health and education issues to Canada's future and, if one of you becomes Liberal leader and Prime Minister, do not simply use the Constitution as a shield to avoid development of national policies in these two areas vital to the lives of Canadians as Stephen Harper has done.

In particular I ask that each of you, should you ultimately become Prime Minister, introduce a real National Autism Strategy for Canada. Not the existing "slap in the face" strategy of the Harper government but a real National Autism Strategy that helps all regions of the country deliver evidence based effective autism interventions during the pre-school and school years and permits adult autistic persons to live in decent residential accommodations and participate to the fullest extent of their abilities in Canadian society.

The beginning of such a strategy was outlined in Bill C-304, the private member's bill introduced by Charlottetown MP, and steadfast autism advocate, Shawn Murphy. That bill included amendment of the Canada Health Act to provide financing for autism treatment wherever autistic children reside in Canada:

BILL C-304

An Act to provide for the development of a
national strategy for the treatment of
autism and to amend the Canada Health

Her Majesty, by and with the advice and
consent of the Senate and House of Commons
of Canada, enacts as follows:


1. This Act may be cited as the National
Strategy for the Treatment of Autism Act.


2. The Minister of Health shall, before
December 31, 2006, convene a conference of
all provincial and territorial ministers responsible
for health for the purpose of working
together to develop a national strategy for the
treatment of autism. The Minister shall, before
December 31, 2007, table a report in both
Houses of Parliament specifying a plan of action
developed in collaboration with the provincial
and territorial ministers for the purpose of
implementing that strategy.


3. Section 2 of the Canada Health Act is
renumbered as subsection 2(1) and is
amended by adding the following:

(2) For the purposes of this Act, services
that are medically necessary or required under
this Act include Applied Behavioural Analysis
(ABA) and Intensive Behavioural Intervention
(IBI) for persons suffering from Autism Spectrum

Mr. Ignatieff, you voted in support of Bill C-304. I hope, should you accede to the Prime Minister's office that you will act on that expression of support for a badly needed national autism strategy.

Mr. Rae, you were not a sitting member of the Commons at that time but, having twice had the privilege of meeting you and discussing autism issues with you I know you have taken the time to inform yourself about, and shown interest in, the challenges facing autistic Canadians and their families. I hope that should you become Liberal leader and perhaps Prime Minister that you
would introduce as a government bill Shawn Murphy's private member's bill C-304.

I realize that you both have great issues on your minds. I hope you both have room in your hearts, and considerable intellects, for autistic Canadians.


Harold L Doherty
Fredericton New Brunswick

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