Challenges To Change

Challenge #1

Federal – Provincial jurisdictional buck-passing… or…it’s their job…no…it’s their job….

Federal politicians say:
“The Canada Health Act cannot be amended….it would create a  constitutional crisis”
“Sorry, but it’s a provincial responsibility”

We say:

  • The Canada Health Act exists to enforce a reasonably common approach to the provision of healthcare across our country.  Each province has the constitutional responsibility to administer Medicare legislation, which includes deciding on the definition of “insured services”
  • Nothing in our constitution or other law prevents the federal government from insisting that provinces include the provision of science-based treatment of autism (ABA/IBI) in their Medicare coverage.  Obviously, this would require additional funding from Ottawa.
  • The federal government intervenes in areas of provincial and municipal jurisdiction whenever it chooses.
  • Legislation is not divinely-inspired scripture.  Changing the Canada Health Act and related provincial statutes is simply a matter of political will.

Challenge # 2

ABA treatment costs too much!

Federal politicians say:
We can’t afford it…it will open the flood-gates…it will bankrupt Medicare…”

We say:

  • Healthcare is increasingly expensive in our country. Costs are being driven up by many factors other than the inclusion of one or another medical condition in the definition of “insured services”
  • Reliable estimates indicate that currently the cost per year for families to provide effective ABA/IBI treatment for a child with autism ranges from $40 to $80 thousand.
  • The total cost per year to provide ABA/IBI treatment to children with autism in Canada is a “moving target”, as the incidence rate of autism is rapidly escalating.  As of today, according to US Centres for Disease Control estimates, 1 in every 110 children (1 in every 70 boys) is being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
  • Definitive studies have concluded that effective ABA/IBI treatment results in over 40% of children with autism losing the diagnosis, with the remainder making significant gains.
  • Several US studies, the most recent one published in 2006 by the Harvard School of Public Health, conclude that without effective intervention most people with autism require a lifetime of costly care.  When lost productivity is included, the lifetime per capita societal cost as of 2006, was estimated at $3.2 million.  The overall impact on the US economy at $35 billion. (click here for Harvard report)
  • In 2009, in the United Kingdom, a report published by the London School of Economics and Kings College concluded that autism cost the economy the equivalent of C$43.2 billion dollars. (click here for LSE report)

Challenge #3

The Elephant in the Room…

The Supreme Court of Canada says:
It’s up to Parliament to decide how healthcare dollars are spent…”

We say:

  • Autism is a neurological disorder which can be effectively treated.
  • ABA/IBI is the only effective, science-based treatment for autism
  • Autism treatment is a core-health need which should be administered by the provincial health ministries. Today, all autism-related services are being overseen by  provincial social services personnel who lack the necessary skills to design and oversee medically necessary autism treatment.
  • With no other medical condition requires a doctor to negotiate with a social worker over the provision of treatment.
  • No where else do we discuss the costs of treating ailments of disorders, nor the age or worthiness of the patient.

Canada has demonstrated an historical and continuing prejudice toward people with mental disorders…and this is the elephant in the room.