An “Open Letter” that Medicare for autism Now! (“MFAN”) sent to the prime minister on Autism Awareness Day, together with the LPC policy resolution to which the letter makes reference.
 If you support our position on Medicare coverage for the science-based treatment of autism spectrum disorder, please send an e-mail to your MP telling them so.
April 2, 2017
Dear Prime Minister:

Today is “Autism Awareness Day”, when some suggest we should celebrate this neurological disorder as just another way of being. This is bizarre and offensive in equal measure.

Last May, delegates to the Liberal Party of Canada’s national convention, held in Winnipeg, recognized the right way to respond to this national epidemic of staggering proportions when they overwhelmingly passed a priority health-care policy resolution calling upon the Government of Canada to work with provinces and territories to include under our supposedly universal MEDICARE plan science-based treatment for autism spectrum disorder (“ASD”), specifically Applied Behavioural Analysis. A copy of the resolution is enclosed. This initiative was assisted and encouraged by our not-for-profit organization, the Medicare for autism Now! Society (“MFAN”).

To date, almost one year later, you and your Cabinet colleagues have failed to do what your extra-parliamentary party has instructed and literally hundreds of thousands of Canadians desperately need. This inaction is in spite of the Government of Canada having concluded “Health Accords” with every province except Manitoba, most of which purport to involve an emphasis on increased federal funding for mental health issues. Why do you and your colleagues continue to ignore the plight of persons afflicted with ASD and their families, and continue to deny appropriate funding for what our courts have long ago ruled to be the medically necessary treatment of this often devastating neurological disorder?

According to the report “PAY NOW OR PAY LATER, Autism Families in Crisis” released by a Senate committee in March, 2007, the number of ASD diagnoses was then one in 166, which indicated that, fully ten years ago, there were some 48,000 children, aged 19 and under, and 144,000 adults living in Canada with this condition.

Today, in North America the incidence rate of ASD is estimated by the world-renown Centers for Disease Control, in Atlanta, to be one in 68. We are reliably advised that this ratio translates into roughly 129,000 children and 386,000 adults living in Canada with ASD. Clearly, it is long past time for action, as has been undertaken in the United States where, at last count, fully 44 states require health insurance providers to include in their policies coverage for science-based treatment for ASD, specifically Applied Behaviour Analysis. No further consideration should be given to expensive proposals calling for yet another self-serving bureaucracy and perennial gab-fests, such as the one recently put forward by the Canadian Autism Partnership Project. As a former premier of Ontario, and interim leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Hon. Bob Rae, said, in his letter of April 21, 2016 endorsing the enclosed resolution, “It is long past time to end this unacceptable discrimination by including treatment for this neurological disorder where it rightfully belongs in our country’s health-care system.”

In February, 2016, in talking about old age pension entitlements, you said, “How we treat vulnerable people in our society is very important.” We agree. There can be few more vulnerable people in Canada today than those who suffer from untreated, moderate to severe ASD. In the mandate letter you sent to Health Minister Jane Philpott, upon her admission to Cabinet, you stated, inter alia, “It is my expectation that you will engage constructively and thoughtfully and add priorities to your agenda when appropriate…We will be a government that governs for all Canadians…As Minister of Health, your overarching goal will be to strengthen our publicly-funded universal health care system and ensure it adapts to new challenges.”

We sent an e-mail to the Health Minister, on November 20th of last year, asking her what steps were being taken to implement this long overdue and urgently needed policy change. To date, we have yet to receive an acknowledgement of our communication. We have had a similar lack of response from Finance Minister Morneau to a letter, dated June 22, 2016, we sent him respecting this issue. A copy of each communication is enclosed. So much for a government committed to openness and engagement.

What is it going to take to get you and your colleagues in the Government of Canada to recognize the seriousness of this health-care crisis (identified as such by the Senate ten years ago) and to respond by doing the morally right and fiscally responsible thing through ensuring appropriate funding within MEDICARE for the science-based treatment of ASD, specifically Applied Behaviour Analysis?

Yours sincerely,

Jean Lewis David Marley,
Director, MFAN Director, MFAN