Sunday, April 20, 2008

"Medicare for Autism Now" goes to the Health Minister's Riding

Another interesting day......Our FEAT team drove to Parry Sound yesterday which is about 1 hour from Huntsville, where Jean Lewis had an extensive interview with the editor of the North Star newspaper.
They also met with the advertising manager who looks after all or most of the Muskoka papers, to discuss an advertising campaign. The local businesses etc. were also "papered".

In Parry Sound, some FEAT campaign literature was delivered to Tony Clement's constituency office. Unfortunately (or fortunately for him, perhaps), Mr. Clement was away at the time!

Jean Lewis also had another successful radio interview at 1:15 - 1:35 on CFRA.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


April 14, 2008
TIME: 08:12:10 ET

Group wants autism covered universally under medicare

O'REGAN: Fighting for autism, a group from BC will be in Ottawa this morning to launch a nationwide campaign to elect members of Parliament who will support including autism treatment as part of medicare.

And joining us now from Ottawa to talk about the campaign is organizer Jean Lewis.

Good to talk to you.

LEWIS: Good morning.

O'REGAN: Firstly, what is the story right across the country? Health care is a provincial jurisdiction, and I'm just wondering, does it vary across the country, the amount of coverage for autism treatment?

LEWIS: Well, absolutely. The problem is, autism treatment isn't covered at all across the country. Currently, across Canada there is a patchwork of autism services that are not treatment. They're respite care, babysitting, childcare, those types of things. They are provided by the provincial social services ministry.

Right now, autism treatment -- science-based autism treatment -- is not covered. The Canada Health Act is federal legislation, not provincial legislation. So, we need children diagnosed with autism to have universal access to health care through medicare.

O'REGAN: Now, you have attempted this, as I understand, at the provincial level in British Columbia. How effective was that?

LEWIS: Well, we actually sued the provincial government, the BC provincial government, almost 10 years ago and won at the BC Supreme Court in the Auton landmark case, which eventually was overturned by the Supreme Court of Canada. And one of their main arguments was -- or decisions was -- is that it really is a matter for Parliament to decide how to spend health-care dollars.

So, we have taken the Supreme Court of Canada at their word and we've gotten political in a nonpartisan way. So, our campaign is to elect MPs, regardless of what their party affiliation is, who, if elected, will support legislation which will amend the Canada Health Act to include medicare coverage for the treatment of autism.

O'REGAN: What kind of response have you gotten amongst members of Parliament?

LEWIS: Well, it's very interesting. We started this campaign in the last federal election just in British Columbia in five ridings where in the previous election the margin of victory was less than 2 percent. And I have to say, in the five ridings that we initiated this campaign in it would be fair to say that we affected the vote in at least two of them.

We have now extended it. We are here in Ontario, meeting with parents and supporters and looking at some constituencies here. Also in the Maritimes.

So, we have captured attention. The MPs who were elected, who did publicly support us, have been actively assisting. Such as Peter Stoffer, Shawn Murphy, Andy Scott, Dawn Black. There are a number of them.

O'REGAN: So, what you're saying is if people do not support that position then you are recommending that people do not vote for them?
If this is an issue that they consider a priority?

LEWIS: Absolutely. And I think it's important to understand that this issue no longer is just pertinent to parents of children with autism.
We had a rally in Burnaby at the beginning of March where 400 people attended. And 25 percent of those people who attended were not parents of autistic children. They were other, fair-minded Canadians who are absolutely outraged that this has not been solved after this length of time.

After the Supreme Court of Canada decision in 2004, Ipsos-Reid did a
poll: 89 percent of Canadians polled said that autism treatment should be in medicare. So, it tells you there is this huge disconnect between the voters and those who govern us.

O'REGAN: Thank you very much, Ms. Lewis, for your time.

LEWIS: My pleasure.

Jean Lewis, Director, BC Families for Early Autism Treatment (FEAT)

Medicare for Autism Now in Ontario

It's been an excellent day for our FEAT of BC representatives campaigning in Bracebridge, Ont. Jean Lewis has now met with one of the reporters from the Bracebridge Examiner - he will do a story which will reach all of the community newspapers in the riding.

FEAT's campaign information has been left at the Hospital,Library, Legion, the Medical Centre and even the local Conservative Party's Riding Association office.

Tomorrow they will meet with the Huntsville Forester and the Parry Sound North Star. They will also be "papering" Huntsville and Perry Sound with brochures, and will be paying a visit to Health Minister Tony Clement's constituency offices in Huntsviile and Perry Sound.

Jean Lewis will also be inerviewed by
Ron Corbett of CFRA radio in Ottawa at 1:30 Ontario time. It can be heard live over the internet.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Medicare for Autism Now! campaign returns to Ontario


April 9, 2008

For Immediate Release

Medicare for Autism Now! campaign returns to Ontario

Vancouver, BC: Jean Lewis, chief spokesperson for FEAT-BC’s Medicare for Autism Now! campaign today announced that she and others, including Stefan Marinoiu, of Toronto, will be traveling through Ontario, organizing parents and supporters as part of a national initiative to obtain Medicare coverage for autism treatment. They will be holding a news conference on Parliament Hill, in the Charles Lynch Press Theatre, at 11:00am on Monday, April 14th.

The news conference will be followed by a three day campaign swing through federal Health Minister Tony Clement’s constituency of Parry Sound-Muskoka, various media interviews in Toronto, on Friday, April 18th, and a concluding parent/supporter rally at the Iroquois Recreation Centre, in Oakville, beginning at 2:00pm on Saturday, April 19th. Making your vote count in the next federal election will be the central message to be delivered by a variety of speakers.

FEAT-BC’s Medicare for Autism Now! campaign is building a coalition of parents, active supporters and other fair-minded Canadians across our country. “The epidemic of autism and the urgent need for effective and affordable treatment is a major issue in the US federal election campaign. We aim to make sure the same thing happens in Canada because our children deserve no less”, said Mrs. Lewis.


For further information, contact: Jean Lewis at 604-290-5737 or via e-mail:

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Today is "World Autism Day"

Today is "World Autism Day" and lots of organizations and individuals are participating in various ways. Senator Jim Munson is holding a press conference this morning on parliament hill calling on the federal government to recognize April 2nd as World Autism Day. He plans to introduce a Private Member's Bill in the Senate to ensure that Canada officially recognized World Autism Day.

As it happens, another Canadian from Ontario, Toronto to be precise has joined the "Medicare for Autism Now!" initiative. She is Deborah Coyne. Deborah has spent her life engaged in public policy work. A lawyer, university professor, constitutional activist, public servant, writer and the mother of two children, one of whom is on the autism spectrum. She has often been at the center of the great public debates of our times -she became a leading figure actively engaged in the constitutional debates that unfolded involving the Meech Lake Accord and the referendum on the Charlottetown Accord. She is currently a policy analyst with an international consulting practice. She will also be one of the speakers at our "Medicare for Autism Now!" event on Saturday, April, 19th in Oakville.

Deborah has written a paper-Autism on the National Agenda. You can access it by going to her blog:

It is long, but very worthwhile reading. She nails two key points: 1) There is no constitutional barrier to a national autism funding arrangement, the Canada Health Act can certainly be amended, and 2) the main impediment is POLITICAL WILL....

Have a read...and welcome to the "Medicare for Autism Now!" team, Ms. Coyne

Welcome to our “Medicare for Autism Now!” blog.

Welcome to our “Medicare for Autism Now!” blog. This site is dedicated to discussion and information pertaining to our political initiative to have science-based autism treatment, ABA/IBI universally accessible to every Canadian who requires it and covered under Medicare.

Our non-partisan political initiative was launched by FEAT of BC (Families for Early Autism Treatment of BC) It is a non-partisan, not-for-profit volunteer organization of parents and professionals seeking science-based treatment for all Canadians diagnosed with autism. FEAT of BC have worked for over a decade to bring universal access to the most effective type of autism treatment available- ABA (Applied Behaviour Analysis) to those afflicted with the condition in Canada. Currently, comprehensive and accessible Medicare is not available for autism treatment anywhere in Canada despite a government run health plan that is supposedly universal. It is unacceptable that children with physical disablilites have access to government health insurance coverage, yet children with a mental or neurological disability do not share in this important social safety net benefit. This is the case in every province in Canada.

FEAT of BC goes “coastal”

In the last federal election. FEAT of BC took part in five local BC campaigns. In at least one, West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast, and perhaps a second, New Westminster-Coquitlam, it is fair to claim that we may have made the difference to the outcome. In the next election, we’re “going coastal”, expanding our reach to include constituencies in BC, Ontario and the Atlantic provinces that were each won by narrow margins. We’re going to participate in as many constituencies as our financial resources and number of volunteers (FEAT soldiers) permit. We have used and will use the internet to great effect.

The glacial pace of bureacratic time that afflicts the federal government in its approach to this urgent medical emergency is not acceptable. We are completely non-partisan, but we are going after any politician of any political party who continues to deny health care to Canadians affected by autism. Our governing motto is attributable to the late US Senator Everitt Dirksen, who once said, “When I feel the heat, I see the light.”

The “Medicare for Autism Now!” Rally was held on Sunday, Mar. 2nd at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts in Burnaby. Between 350-400 fair- minded Canadian voters who included parents, family members, friends, neighbours, professionals in the field, and many more all came out to listen and learn about how to make their vote and the votes of many they know count in the next federal election.

Nine speakers made presentations. Two were pre-recorded and shown via DVD. The speakers are from a variety of backgrounds – each bringing their own unique perspective but, common themes ran throughout each presentation.

• In the last 30 years, only two things have moved our issue forward – litigation and more recently, focused political action.
• Autism is a health care issue and it’s treatment needs to be enshrined under Medicare
• The current and limited funding provided through the provincial government’s social services ministries could evaporate tomorrow with the stroke of a bureacrat’s pen. No legislation exists within these ministries to protect treatment rights.
• It costs our economy more NOT to treat autism. Harvard University reported that today it costs the Canadian economy $3.5 billion per year to maintain the status quo and not fund treatment….The cost in human suffering is immeasurable.

We encourage you to take some time and watch the speeches and the media coverage. For parents of newly diagnosed children – it is an excellent history lesson…it is also a wake-up call for all of us to get involved.

We need your help – with money and time….It costs money to run a national campaign – any financial contribution would be welcome.

Please make cheques payable to:

c/o Suite 425 – 1489 Marine Drive,
West Vancouver, BC, V7T 1B8