Tuesday, April 25, 2006

NDP MP tables private bill on autism care

I just wrote an email to MP Mike Lake to thank him and show our support for everything that he is doing... If you want to do the same, his address is Lake.M@parl.gc.ca.

CTV.ca News Staff Updated: Mon. Apr. 24 2006 11:51 PM ET

Alberta is the only province in Canada that pays for autism treatment and therapy, but NDP MP Peter Stoffer has tabled a private members bill that would ensure every province does the same.
"No matter where you live in this country, you should have equal access to the healthcare system when it comes to autism," he told CTV News.
"Health care is a provincial responsibility for delivery, but the federal government has the responsibility to finance that care."
Activists held a small rally on Parliament hill Monday to call attention to the issue.
Autism treatment is expensive and can cost parents from $40,000 to $60,000 each year. Some provinces only offer treatment to the age of six.
Stoffer admitted that not every province might be able to afford covering the bill.
"Other provinces may not have the fiscal capacity that Alberta has," he said.
One fellow MP who knows all about Alberta's autism treatment program is Conservative Mike Lake, who represents the federal riding of Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beaumont.
"I would liked to comment on Peter Stoffer. He's with the NDP, I'm with the Conservatives. The fact is that Peter and I agree that something needs to be done," he said.
One of his own children - his 10-year-old son Jaden - is autistic.
"Life, it's been different," Lake said. "It had its challenges early on."
According to the Autism Society of Canada, autistic people can find difficulty in social interactions, communicating with others, and learning in a normal educational setting.
However, symptoms of the disorder can vary
wildly from person to person. Some patients display repetitive behaviour and can even suffer from self-inflicted injuries.
Debi Lake, wife of the Edmonton MP, said Alberta's program helped a great deal in communicating with her son.
"Once there was a way to get in there and him to understand some language, it changed his life," she said. "It changed our lives."
Mike Lake said he is "blessed" to live in Alberta where the treatment is available and said he was "prepared to do anything that it took to make sure that he had the help that he needed."
But despite his praise of the Alberta system, he stopped short of endorsing Stoffer's bill.
"Really it's the provinces that have to make those decisions and drive them," he said. "It's their jurisdiction."
However, Lake said he hopes one day the federal government will ease the financial burden for parents of all children with disabilities.
With a report from CTV's Rosemary Thompson

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