Monday, September 22, 2008

Autism group takes funding battle to the hustings - Ottawa Sun

Ottawa Sun
Thursday, September 18, 2008

Autism group takes funding battle to the hustings

By SUSAN SHERRING

Families dealing with autism have been "shafted" by governments of all political stripes and are vowing to change that this federal election.

"We've been shafted left, right and centre," said Andrew Kavchak, an active member of the autism community in Ottawa.

Kavchak, like hundreds of parents across the country, is putting his hope on a new national group called Medicare for Autism Now Society.

"I'm extremely satisfied and happy there are parents within the community no longer willing to sit back and accept their fate, who are willing and have enough energy left over after taking care of their children," Kavchak said.

Medicare for Autism Now is targeting select ridings across the country which were close during the last federal election, and asking all the candidates if they will support autism treatment being included in Canada's medicare system.

The group had some success the last time around with two ridings in B.C. and have now expanded their efforts to 14 ridings in four provinces with a national campaign.

The group will be making their case in Ottawa early next month, hoping to catch the attention of all parties fielding candidates in the federal election.

While none of the ridings are in the Ottawa area, Kavchak says it's only a matter of time.

"I'd like to see it being adopted and used from coast to coast until justice is done," he said.

New Democrat candidate Marlene Rivier, running in Ottawa West-Nepean, agrees autistic children have been treated unfairly, and she for one is prepared to commit to funding treatment under medicare.

"I really think autistic children have been shortchanged. Commitments have been made to them and then those governments have failed to follow through on them. We need to extend treatment to those families, and continue examining evidence to ensure they are producing the outcomes we want for these children during the critical years. The fact they are being denied the help they need is really quite tragic," she said.

WORKED BEHIND SCENES

Ottawa South MP David McGuinty, running for re-election for the Liberals, says he's been working behind the scenes for the past four years on this very issue.

Yesterday, he pledged that whether sitting on the government side or in opposition, he'll push forward on including autism treatment under medicare.

"We need to find out how we might proceed and whether the Canada Health Act might be amended to include treatment for autism spectrum. My brother (Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty) has been seized with this for years. It's a tough thing, a lot of demands. I've been working hard on this and it's something we have to move forward on," he said.

Louise Witt, a parent activist and Surrey campaign co-ordinator with the Medicare for Autism Now Society, said she has made this her life's work.

"My son is privileged enough that we can afford the treatment. But it disgusts me that other children don't get that just because their parents can't afford it," she said.

The non-partisan group doesn't endorse candidates.

"We get answers from candidates and post them on the Internet. The closer we get to our election date, we'll take out ad space in all of the local newspapers, advise our constituents and supporters, and make their own informed decision. We're a single-issue organization."

Witt and her group want to ensure the politicians keep their word after the election.

"We've been lied to many times. Our real work begins after the election. We expect politicians to have integrity. We'll tell them, 'If you go back on your word, we will out you in a very public manner'. "

1 comment:

PAWAN KUMAR said...

This is a great post Dmitry. I just had one of the ‘Doh!’ moments and ran back to correct my own site before publishing my comment. You see my own comment form did not match what I’m about to advise. I get less comments than you, so never noticed any problem. I’ve changed it now anyway so here goes.


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