Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Autism, Politics and the Return of the Run Jump Fly Boy

I have been engaged in autism advocacy during the recent Canadian federal election.  I do so at the federal level for the sole purpose of trying to ensure that all Canadians with serious autism disorders have access to Applied Behavior Analysis for treatment of their core autism symptoms.  

I have advocated for over 15 years with other parents and with politicians like the late Fredericton MP Andy Scott who with Nova Scotia MP Peter Stoffer did manage to put autism on the Canadian political map with their joint private members' motion.  The motion set out some directions for a federal National Autism Strategy, directions which have been totally ignored by the current Harper Conservative government and by their pet autism charity Autism Canada which has never contributed to the struggle by parents from BC to Atlantic Canada who fought for, and continue to fight for Medicare coverage of evidence based Applied Behaviour Analysis for those with autism disorders. Watching the Harper Conservatives and their charity Autism Canada continue to ignore the only science based autism treatment for autism can be discouraging but not defeating.

As long as I can have daily adventures with my son Conor, now 19, I will never quit, I will never stop fighting for the right things to be done to actually help people who actually suffer from autism disorders and related conditions.  Conor has had some serious health issues in recent years with the full blooming of his seizure issues and dangerous adverse reactions to some seizure meds.  Today though as we walked Fredericton's North Riverfront Trail that we have walked so often I saw something I hadn't seen in a while ... the Run Jump Fly Boy was back.  He flew down the trail jumping into the air, both feet leaving the ground and enjoying life to the max.  Then he sat on a bench with Dad for a few minutes soaking in the fresh fall air.  And it made his old Dad and grizzled autism advocate feel good too ... very, very good and more determined then ever to continue fighting for meaningful, evidence based treatment for all persons suffering from autism disorders and related conditions.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Fredericton Liberal Matt DeCourcey: Liberal Party Committed to A National Autism Strategy Addressing Access to ABA/IBI

Fredericton Liberal Candidate Matt DeCourcey

Email received October 2, 2015 from Fredericton Liberal Candidate Matt DeCourcey stating Liberal Party supports creation of a National Autism Strategy addressing ABA and IBI access and coverage under Medicare:

Hi Harold,

Thank you for the email. I apologize for the delay in my response. I want to let you know that the Liberal Party and I fully support the creation of a national autism strategy. Our party recognizes that in certain provinces, autism treatments, including ABA and IBI are covered under provincial Medicare programs and are more readily available in other provinces. Health care access challenges like these are something that the Liberal Party is committed to addressing.

First and foremost, we need a conversation that goes beyond simply mirroring previously made commitments. We need a partner in the federal government that is committed to innovation and collaboration with the provinces and territories to achieve a modern, efficient, equitable system of universal health care. The Liberal Party is committed to that collaboration.

A Liberal government will re-engage the provinces after 10 years of Stephen Harper neglect. We will meet on Canadian health care and negotiate a new Health Accord with the provinces and territories, including an agreement on long-term funding. Furthermore, our party is committed to pan-Canadian collaboration on health innovation. We will work with provincial jurisdictions to overcome obstacles to innovation in health care delivery and access.

Thank you again for your email. I hope that I’ve helped to clarify the Liberal Party’s position on support for those living with autism. If you have any further questions please reach out.



Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Wow! Federal NDP Replies to My Inquiry This Morning Re Negotiations to Include ABA for Autism under Medicare

I confess I was surprised  to get a same day response this evening from the federal NDP to my question this morning addressed to party leader Thomas Mulcair.  The federal NDP committed to continuing the efforts which they have in fact made over the years in Parliament towards creation of an EFFECTIVE national autism strategy.   

To Canada's  federal NDP and leader Thomas Mulcair I say thank you.
8:20 PM (9 minutes ago)

to me
Dear Mr. Doherty:

Thank you for providing such a helpful summary of your discussions with us on this important issue.

New Democrats have a proven record of working with the autism activist community toward increasing awareness and supports for those living with autism spectrum disorders. NDP MPs have, over many years, proposed bills and motions in Parliament toward the creation of an effective national autism strategy. We are committed to continuing that effort as government.

The success of any national autism strategy that includes medically recognized treatments such as Applied Behavioural Analysis and Intensive Behavioural Intervention, depends on the commitment and involvement of provincial and territorial, as well as federal governments. At the moment, for lack of federal leadership, the levels of support vary widely across the country.

Over the past decade, the Harper government has consciously chosen to abandon its leadership role in Canada’s health system and has turned its back on the federal-provincial-territorial cooperation necessary to maintain and improve our public system – including measures to better address autism needs. Stephen Harper has not only refused to renew the national health accord but has unilaterally cut billions of dollars from future provincial/territorial health transfers.

Under Tom Mulcair, an NDP government will live up to its national leadership role and move quickly to re-establish a collaborative working relationship with provincial and territorial governments. A New Democratic autism strategy would be forged within this renewed negotiation and would establish, with provincial and territorial cooperation, access to treatment across Canada.

Canada’s New Democrats | Le NPD du Canada
Ready for change | Ensemble pour le changement

Mr. Mulcair Will the NDP Negotiate A New Health Accord to Include ABA for Autism Under Medicare?

September 30, 2015

Thomas Mulcair 
Leader of the Official Opposition

Dear Mr Mulcair

The Federal NDP has in the past been very helpful in addressing autism on a national level including efforts by Nova Scotia MP Peter Stoffer who worked with the late Fredericton Liberal MP Andy Scott to effect passage of a National Autism Strategy motion in the House of Commons albeit one  which did not address autism treatment coverage under Medicare.  In July 2014 I asked if the NDP would support a real National Autism Stragegy.  I receivd the following positive response from your office:

Dear Mr. Doherty,

Thank you for writing. We appreciate hearing of your advocacy work on behalf of your son and all individuals living with autism spectrum disorders.

Please be assured that New Democrats are determined to help put the needs of Autistic children on the political map. The NDP supports the continuing efforts to create a National Autism Strategy, therefore ensuring that individuals would receive the highest level of care, regardless of which region of Canada they live in.

As you mentioned, NDP MP Glenn Thibeault is helping to provide leadership on this matter along with working to have the Canada Health Act amended to include Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) and Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) as medically recognized treatments for individuals living with autism spectrum disorders. (

Going forward you can count on our team of New Democrat MPs to continue to speak out on this matter. It’s time for leadership that will move Canada forward.

Again, thank you for taking the time to be in touch.

All the best,

Office of Thomas Mulcair, MP (Outremont)
Leader of the Official Opposition

New Democratic Party of Canada

Here in Fredericton I asked candidates in the current election the following question  as part of the Medicare for Autism Now!'s 1 in 68 campaign:

I was very pleased to receive the following excellent response to the One in 68 question from the Fredericton NDP candidate Sharon Scott-Levesque:

Hello Harold,

I wish to thank you for your message regarding the inclusion of Applied Behaviour Analysis in Medicare. As you have noted, this is an issue affecting a growing number of Canadian families, and I understand the high costs of treatment are of great concern.

As you know the Canada Health Act requires provinces to cover medically necessary services without naming any particular procedure.  This means that the decision on what to cover has been left up to the provinces, creating a patchwork system where some provinces provide coverage for Applied Behavioural Analysis and others do not.
I recognize that this disparity creates a hardship for families and myself and the NDP are interested in working with the provinces to see this disparity eliminated. This is definitely a subject we will raise with the provinces when we negotiate a new Health Accord.

I do support this change and hope we can work together in the future.

Sharon Scott- Levesque RN
Fredericton NDP Candidate

Mr Mulcair, past NDP contributions have been helpful but the failure by the federal government to see that science based ABA/IBI treatment for autism is included under Medicare means that many autistid children have not received the training which could have helped improve the core deficits of their autism disorders.

NDP candidate Sharon Scott-Levesque's statement of her support is much appreciated. 

Mr. Mulcair, can you confirm that the NDP will commit to  negotiating a new  Health Accord with the provinces which will include science based ABA/IBI  treatment for autism spectrum disorder uner Medicare?


Harold Doherty
Fredericton, NB

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Join Fredericton Green Candidate Mary Lou Babineau In Signing the Medicare for Autism Now! Petition


Statement on Medicare for Autism now!

While it is true that the tremendous advancements in medicine and technology have granted us longer lives, there are still distressing developments: for instance, the increasing number of illnesses and syndromes appearing and affecting our children. The rates of attention deficit disorder, autism and others are on the rise.
The Canada Health Act has five general principles – public administration, comprehensiveness, universality, portability, and accessibility, but the federal government has not been applying them to support greater national consistency and equal quality of services from coast to coast. In addition, the federal government has failed to develop a national strategy to address such challenges as autism and dementia.
I recognize that it is vital to ensure that the federal government provides funding as necessary and I also think that this funding needs to be accompanied by strong federal government leadership. I pledge to follow through on our commitment to a science-based national Mental Health Strategy and this is something I will advocate for in the amendment process for a new and improved Canada Health Act. 
Mary Lou Babineau
Green Party Candidate for Fredericton
Join Mary Lou Babineau in signing the Medicare for Autism Now! petition