Thursday, April 20, 2006

Press Release Pre-Budget Autism Ottawa Rally

I'm going on Monday....

Press Release
April 20, 2006 - For immediate release

Pre-Budget Autism Rally on Parliament Hill

Ottawa - At 12:00 p.m. on Monday, April 24, 2006, the families and friends of children with autism will rally on Parliament Hill, Ottawa, to demonstrate regarding the lack of Federal funding for the treatment of autism and to ask the new Conservative government to develop a National Autism Strategy.

Autism is a serious neurological disorder affecting children and their development. The prevalence rates in recent years have been increasing and has been recently reported to be 1 in every 166 children being diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). To many people this high rate constitutes an epidemic and a national health crisis that requires all levels of government to work together under federal leadership to develop a National Autism Strategy that would include the federal government making transfer payments to the provinces and autism treatment being incorporated within Canada’s Medicare system. For two decades the medical and scientific community has known that the application of Intensive Behaviour Intervention (IBI) therapy based on the principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) has been the most effective treatment which can lead to as many as 48% of children developing so much that they lose their diagnosis. The remainder make significant progress towards a better quality of life. Yet, no province offers treatment under Medicare. While some offer incomplete programs under the "social services" departments, other provinces offer nothing. In a country as wealthy as Canada with consecutive years of federal budget surpluses, there is no reason that any child with autism should sit on a waiting list for access to their core healthcare need and then be cut-off because they had a birthday.

"The time has come for the federal government to take an active leadership role in recognizing the autism crisis across Canada and take the steps to develop a comprehensive approach that would ensure that disabled children have a real chance in this country to achieve their potential" said rally organizer Sam Yassine.

Canada needs a National Autism Strategy that would recognize the crisis and respond with an appropriate government plan of action. Parents of autistic children and their friends are calling on the new Federal Conservative government to extend two of their five priorities, healthcare waiting lists and child care, to healthcare for children with autism. An Ipsos-Reid public opinion poll in December 2004 indicated that 84% of Canadians believed that Medicare should cover autism treatment. A national autism treatment petition supported at was tabled in the last session of Parliament 80 times. On April 6, 2006, Peter Stoffer, MP, tabled Bill C-211, which would amend the Canada Health Act to include autism treatment in Medicare. Just prior to the rally Peter Stoffer, MP, and other Parliamentarians will hold a press conference at 11:30am on April 24 to call on the government to end healthcare discrimination against persons with autism and incorporate autism treatment in Medicare. The press conference will take place at the Charles Lynch Press studio, Room 130-S, Centre Block, Parliament.

For more information, contact:

Sam Yassine, rally co-organiser, Ottawa; 613-841-3886 residence

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