Advocate for the creation of a funded National Autism Strategy from the Government of Canada

Canada has a number of nationally mandated and funded social programs. Some of these are delivered directly by the Federal Government and others that fall into areas of provincial jurisdiction are delivered by the provices. The Federal legislation in the latter case creates the framework within which the province must act, and provides federal cash for it.

Medicare (the Canada Health Act) is probably the best known of this type of federally mandated-provincially delivered program.

The supporters of this cause are calling on the Federal Government of Canada to create and fund a National Autism Strategy on a similar basis to the Canada Health Act.

Today Autism is dealt with very differently from province to province. In some therapy is covered by Medicare or out of other ministry budgets, in some not at all. Schools have varying responsibilities to provide programs designed specifically for children with Autism.

Autism is not rare. Autism incidence rates are now known to be about 1 in 150 children, with 4 times as many cases in males as females.

This makes Autism more common than type 1 diabetes, childhood cancer and cyctic fibrosis combined!

Yet while the medical requirements arising from those illnesses are completely covered by Medicare everywhere, children with Autism and their families are largely left to fend for themselves.

Managing Autism is complicated. It's a medical condition that has profound social and educational implications for those affected. Educational accomodation to date has been largely handled by dumping Autistic children into general purpose special education/developmentally delayed classes. These classes are not suited to autistic children, and indeed in many cases the presence of autistic children is bad for the other children in these classes as well.

School boards and provincial education ministries will not likely begin to create consistantly appropriate learning environments without federal legislation and funding.

Beyond school, at home, and in the lives of adults with Autism there are issues that are, today, barely acknowledged. Community & Social Services provided by municipalities, provincial ministries beyond health and education, social services agencies, and the federal government itself need a framework within which they are guided, and funded, to address the specific issues of Canadians living with Autism as these Canadians move through their lives, and impact the communities around them.

At 1 in 150 people, and with the broad impact Autism has, this is an issue that must be addressed at the federal level.

1. Canada must create a National Autism Strategy.

2. This Strategy must have suitable federal funding behind it.

3. This Strategy must address the broad social impact of Autism, and address this impact from cradle to grave.