This topic contains 1,742 replies, has 143 voices, and was last updated by  Andrew Kavchak 1 month, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #75

    FEAT BC Admin

    In this topic area, discussion is about the fight to secure Government funding for your A.B.A. treatment program. It is also the place to talk about your thoughts and ideas about how to establish new Government programs specifically designed for autism treatment.

    This is the place to hear input from parents who have fought for funding and won, as well as those who have fought for funding and would like to share their horror stories. There is a tendency to not share success stories once funding is secured. Please fight that tendency. By sharing our experience, we all become stronger.


    —-By FEAT BC (Freeman) on Saturday, January 3, 1998 – 03:16 pm:

    -Hi everyone!

    These are some things to think about in your dealings with government to help you to obtain support for your child’s Autism Treatment Program. These are my personal opinions and do not represent those of FEAT of BC or any other organization.

    Many of these observations are based on my personal experiences (and I believe it poetic justice to help every parent avoid being systematically abused by their social worker the way I was).

    Good luck to everyone! (Let’s all pull back the curtain on the Wizard of OZ).



    How To Fight for Funding for Autism Treatment and Appropriate School Placement

    1. Establish a Paper Trail

    Always take notes, documenting major points of all conversations with government and school officials.

    This includes casual, in person conversations with social workers as well as ALL telephone conversations. All key points of discussion must be written down in your notes including the date and time of the discussion. This includes what was agreed upon, as well as what was not agreed upon.

    Then the notes should be used to write a letter recapping the substance and content of the conversation. This letter must then be mailed or faxed to the person with whom you had the conversation. In addition, a copy must be kept in your file (see section on the icci game).


    It is important to formalize the interaction between you and Government officials. In addition, everyone is put on notice that they must closely adhere to their responsibilities, regulations and laws., Furthermore, they must then consider the paper trail you have created. This lets everyone know that the interaction can become public and that any abuses of power and authority can be formally appealed and/or publicized.

    In other words, they canit use discretion unfairly under the cloak of secrecy.

    2. Submit all Requests in Writing

    All your requests for your child must be submitted formally in writing with a copy included in your file and a copy, if necessary, sent to their immediate superiors.

    3. Set Deadlines for Action

    All formal requests for action must have a reasonable deadline set for that action. If no action or response is received by the deadline you have set (two weeks for example), then you will interpret the lack of response as a formal declination (a formal NO) of your requests.

    Why Set Deadlines?

    When bureaucrats do not want to do something, they will stall by ignoring you and your request. (As an aside, in the study of the bureaucracy, this is known as ithe power to do nothingi). They can string you along for years. When you have determined that the person you are interacting with is not inclined to help you or is not dealing in good faith, then you must take the initiative and formally label his/her behavior as obstructionist and de facto as a declination (a NO to your requests). This allows you to move to the next level of authority on your timetable to present your case. This takes the power to do nothing away from the bureaucrat with whom you are dealing. Simple stated, a bureaucrat who stalls and does nothing becomes irrelevant (use your invisible spray) and you move on to the next level of authority.

    How to icci?

    A cc. is a copy of your letter sent to someone other than the person you are writing. You put the cc. at the bottom left-hand corner of your letter followed by 2 spaces and the name of the person or people to whom you want to send a copy of the letter.

    Who to icci to?

    Sometimes it is best not to icci at all, especially in the early stages of the relationship (for example, your first letter to a social worker requesting assistance). This gives them the opportunity to do the right thing and does not present you as an overly combative person. When you start to run into problems, it is a good idea to send the icci to the 2 immediate superiors of the person you are having problems with. We do not recommend icciing all the way up the chain of command, since you want to give them a chance to solve the problem at the local level.

    Why send a icci copy?

    The reason for playing the icci game is that you want your interactions with the official to be known to his superior and possibly to other organizations so that 1) their action or inaction becomes a matter of record and 2) the individual knows he is being monitored. This helps minimize abuses of power and authority and helps encourage the official to meet their obligations and do the right thing.

    What is the sequence of letters?

    Find out the chain of command of the particular bureaucracy you are battling.


    Deputy Minister
    Children’s Ministry’s local region chain of command, all the way down to the District Supervisor
    and Social Worker
    Contacts can be found at the government directory:


    Start at the bottom and climb. At the Regional Operating Officer (ROO) level (once you have been declined) you have to decide whether to jump up to the top, threaten and then go to the media, or both. A word of wisdom: DO NOT BLUFF. If you are not willing to go all the way, they will ‘smell’ this. You must be prepared to take it right up to the Minister and beyond.

    Documentation from Experts:

    In your arsenal to fight for your child, it is wise to get his/her pediatrician and/or psychiatrist to write a letter on your childis behalf. In addition, any other experts who know your child and are sympathetic to what you are trying to do should become involved.

    When to hire a lawyer?

    If money is not an issue, you can hire a lawyer when you get to the area manager level. Make sure that you have a paper trail so the lawyer has something to work with. Also, have the lawyer give F.E.A.T. of B.C. a call, and we will send him/her information that will help.

    If money is an issue (as it is for most of us running autism treatment programs), you might want to hire a lawyer once you have been turned down by the Minister.

    How to hire a lawyer?

    The type of lawyer needed is a litigator, or trial lawyer. S/he does not need to be an expert in autism, or special needs; s/he needs to be experienced in suing governments, and enjoys being in court. Word of mouth is a good way to find a lawyer.

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    Andrew Kavchak

    Hi Folks!

    Well, two interesting announcements in Ottawa today.  First, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Beverley McLachlin, has finally announced that she will be retiring in December.  Halleluja!

    As you may recall, she wrote the unanimous decision in the “Auton” case (November 2004) which overturned the B.C. Court of Appeal and B.C. Supreme Court decisions which determined that the non-provision of autism treatment under Medicare was discrimination and a violation of the section 15 equality provision in the Charter.  I remember reading the decision when it came out and noticing some strange errors of fact at the very beginning. For example, (I’m going from memory here…) I remember reading her references to Dr. Ivar Lovaas doing his ground-breaking work with autistic kids ….and she referred to Texas.  Since when is UCLA in Texas? I wondered.  It kind of gave me the impression that neither she, nor her Justice colleagues, nor the cleks (assistants to the judges who do background research and writing, etc.), actually studied the factums (briefs – written arguments), but made their minds up about the conclusion when they decided to hear the appeal.

    A little after the case came out I remember getting an email from a veteran professor of law at the University of Ottawa who referred to the case and said that there was “hope” because the decision made reference to all kinds of research and the court found that there were promising emerging treatments, or something like that.  I wrote back to this “professor” and pointed out to him that in the Canadian legal system appeals are based on errors in law, and the only courts that make “findings of facts” are the courts of first instance (as far as I know there are very few exceptions to this rule and it certainly did not apply in Auton).  In other words, McLachlin had no business making any “findings of fact” or meddling with the findings of the court in B.C.. The SCC’s job was to determine whether the law was correctly applied in the lower courts.

    But you know what the deal was….the province appealed, and then the federal government and other provinces intervened because any SCC decision would have consequences across the country.  Of course, none of the provinces, or the federal government, were in favour of that happening because, as we all know, giving kids with autism access to treatment under Medicare would signal the doom of Medicare, the bankruptcy of the governments, and the end of the world as we know it, right?  At the time, the federal Minister of Justice was Irwin Cotler, who had a reputation of being a “human rights lawyer and champion”.  After he had his department lawyers intervene in the case against the interests of autistic children, I wrote to him a letter and asked “how could you?”.  He actually wrote back to me and said that under the Constitution, his job as Attorney General required him to advise the Government.  Funny, isn’t it?  You can work in the private sector and academia and acquire a reputation of being a “human rights champion”, but when you use the government resources to argue against disabled children getting treatment, you still maintain the reputation of being a “human rights champion”!  I guess letting disabled kids access treatment has nothing to do with “human rights”.  I never really understood that.

    But getting back to McLachlin, her decision in the Auton case boiled down to this: if it involves the expenditure of public funds, then it is entirely up to the legislatures.  In other words, the Constitution and the court system are irrelevant if public funds are involved.  Thus, she caved in to the fear-mongering of the governments, and overturned the decisions from the courts in B.C..

    Ironically, I remember reading in a local newspaper about a year after the Auton case that McLachlin went to Australia and gave a lecture to students in the law faculty at Monash University. And what did she tell our Australian friends?  About the need for judges to have some spine and stick up to (against) governments and not be afraid to issue unpopular decisions! I was thinking of the Auton decision while reading the article. I seemed to me that she ignored her own advice and was a bit of hypocrite.

    I remember a number of years ago being on a live local CBC radio afternoon show in Ottawa and the program host made a reference to the Auton case decision of the SCC and then to another subsequent Ontario court decision that seemed somewhat incompatible as it came to a different conclusion with respect to autism treatment (I think it was in the school system). The host asked me what was my reaction to these two decisions, and how I interpreted them. I replied that to me, the two decisions boiled down to this:  every judge on the Supreme Court of Canada should be the immediate recipient of some sort of “early departure” or “early retirement” incentive, and that there were a number of judges in Canada at the Court of Appeal level that should be entitled to immediate promotions.

    I suspect the legal and political community will be hosting many “Goodbye Beverley” parties towards the end of the year, and I sincerely hope I get an invitation.  It seems to me to be an entirely appropriate occasion to celebrate and have a drink.

    Second, did you hear the news today about the federal government signing a $7 billion national child care deal with nine provinces? It makes me wonder if Mike Lake will issue a statement suggesting some concern over “jurisdiction” and whether he would have preferred the federal government instead create some sort of “Canadian Day Care Partnership” bureaucracy to lobby the provinces to provide more day care spaces or something.  Just wondering…


    Andrew Kavchak

    Hi Folks,

    Well, here’s some more “Qs & As” to help keep the merry-go-round spinning and going nowhere fast.  Yesterday in the Senate, our historic champion, Senator Jim Munson, got on the CAP project bandwagon and asked the government rep, Peter Harder (a former senior bureaucrat who “advised” the new Trudeau government during the “transition period” and was rewarded with a Senate seat….much like Trudeau’s father appointing Michael Pitfield to the Senate back in the 80s).

    Regarding this exchange, once again, there is no reference to what is the actual problem(s) or challenges that families with autism face. No mention of lack of access to treatment under Medicare, etc. Instead, Senator Munson actually says that the feds should take the “…national lead in working on research, surveillance, indigenous groups — you name it…”  Yes, that’s it.  Forget access to treatment. After years of all that lobbying and court cases and petitions and stuff…we’re down to “research, surveillance, indigenous groups”.  And what is the “solution”?  According to Mike Lake, Senator Munson, etc., it is to fund the CAP project.  I disagree.  To me, this CAP project is a huge diversion and distraction which has completely changed the nature of the discourse about autism and autism policies.  Instead of talking about the real issues that need to be addressed, they go back and forth about funding for a new bureaucracy.  If the government does commit the funding, it will be a convenient way for the government to say “we’ve done something, we’re paying for it,…the autism problem is now solved”, when in fact anybody with just half a brain will know that the real issues have not be addressed and have not been solved.

    Thursday, June 8, 2017



    Autism Support and Funding

    <b>Hon. Jim Munson:</b> My question is for the Government Leader in the Senate.

    Senator, I never thought I would have to ask this question — and actually, I really don’t want to ask this question — because I felt that, in March, when we had the budget, those of us who work in the autism community held out a strong hope, a really strong hope, that the government would approve — in the scheme of things, with the billions of dollars that are being spent — a modest amount of money, less than $20 million over a four- or five-year period, for a Canadian Autism Partnership — a partnership that was put in place by the Conservative government and through my work with Conservative MP Mike Lake. That was a modest amount of money, $2 million over two years. That partnership, which was established by CASDA, Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance, brings together the overwhelming majority of autism groups across this country. Through that partnership, we wanted the federal government to take the national lead in working on research, surveillance, indigenous groups — you name it — across this country so that we can build upon the foundation we have now.

    Alas, the money was not in this budget. However, I don’t give up hope. None of us give up hope; we sincerely hope.

    How do you see the federal role in the future in terms of leading a partnership with the autism community?

    <b>Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate):</b> Senator Munson, let me first thank you for your question and for your ongoing advocacy for the disabled generally, and the autism community in particular.

    As I have said in response to several other questions on this matter, autism spectrum disorder is an area of significant concern for the ministers responsible. There is specific funding in Canadian Institutes of Health Research on the research side, about $8 million.

    With respect to the funding that the honourable senator is speaking of, I will certainly raise that with the minister responsible. The government is taking other initiatives, including those of general application to families with disabled, in terms of the Canada child benefit and other measures, but I understand exactly the question being asked and I will endeavour not only to seek an answer but to ensure that the question is asked with the advocacy of your question.

    <b>Senator Munson:</b> I thank you for that answer, because I don’t think one can ever give up hope. You have to remember as well, Senator Harder — and I think you do understand — that it was the Senate of Canada, all of us in this room, who approved a Senate report called <i>Pay</i> <i>Now or Pay Later: Autism Families in Crisis</i>. That was almost 10 years ago now. Yes, incrementally there have been a few things there, but it was the Senate that urged the government — all governments — to get involved. When we made that push at that particular time, the Conservative government took it upon themselves, with the Public Health Agency of Canada, to work on these things.

    I can’t help but express real disappointment. When we began this quest, 1 in 150 had some form of autism; now it is 1 in 68. There is a crisis in this country. Everybody has a neighbour down the street, somebody in their family, somebody they know. People are moving across the country to get better services, from Atlantic Canada to Alberta. People are remortgaging their homes and, sadly, a lot of parents have divorced because of the stress that’s involved.

    This is a request to implore you to talk to the ministers involved. I have spoken with both of them, and I’m hoping there is some sort of concrete announcement where, again, the federal government leads and works with the provinces, because we cannot continue to work in silos in this country.


    Andrew Kavchak

    Hi Folks,

    Well, something strange is really going on in Ottawa.  It is so weird.  To get an idea of just how weird it is, you have to be aware of the background and the context.  First, in 2004 there was an Auton case that went to the SCC. The issue of access to autism treatment under Medicare has been an outstanding issue that is the number one priority issue for any parent of a newly-diagnosed child with autism, and for many parents of older children with autism.  It has been the primary issues for decades. Now, in 2017, we have an opposition MP with a child who is non-verbal hammering away at the Prime Minister (and getting lots of standing ovations in the House of Commons), but what is he asking about?  Treatment? Access to treatment under Medicare?  No.  He’s asking about the support for a new proposed bureaucracy.  And the PM’s anwers….if you look hard, the word “autism” is mentioned somewhere in there, but apart from that, nothing is said that would give any parent any reason for hope or relief.  So what does one call such absurd situations where two politicians are going through the motions of pretending to represent our community interests, but in fact neither have a clue of just how misguided they are?

    After a meaningless exchange with the Prime Minister, Mike Lake went on later in the day to make several long speeches about his “Canadian Autism Partnership” project and his frustration over the lack of government support. However, when I read through it, I could not see anywhere where he identified what are the specific public policy gaps that Canadians with autism have to deal with, and how this “CAP” thing will possibly help. In other words, the whole debate is a complete diversion from the real issues (i.e., when will the feds arrange to meet with the provinces and negotiate a funding formula for the inclusion of autism treatment under Medicare, etc.).  So we have this absolutely ludicrous situation where one MP portrays himself as the “champion” for the autism community, the opposition parties give him standing ovations, the autism community (e.g., the CASDA folks) repeatedly thank him for his “tireless work on our community’s behalf”, and the Prime Minister actually has to respond to a question and a supplementary on the topic of “autism”, and yet both the questions and the responses have absolutely nothing to do with the key challenges the autism community faces.   It makes you wonder if either Mike Lake or the PM every considered asking a parent of a child with autism “what question about autism should I ask?” or “how would you suggest I respond to such a question about autism?” (I know, I know…Mike Lake has a child with autism….but another parent I mean).

    From the Hansard for June 7, 2017

    Mr. Speaker, in his rambling justification of his vote against the Canadian autism partnership, the Liberal House leader’s parliamentary secretary said:

    <small>I disagree with members who say that it is 10¢ a day for this, or it is only $19 million. I can assure you that every one of the constituents I represent would argue that a million dollars is a lot of money.</small>

    He will get no argument from this side on that last point. However, as the Liberal Prime Ministerracks up a deficit over 25,000 times that $1 million, how is it possible that Canadians living with autism were left behind?

    Mr. Speaker, I recognize the member’s strength and passion on this issue. I recognize that autism spectrum disorder has a significant and lifelong impact on individuals and their families.

    Federal investments in research, data improvements, surveillance, and training skills are supporting those with autism and their families. There is an extraordinary network of stakeholders across the country raising awareness and providing services to families. Our government will continue to support those efforts through our programs.

    Mr. Speaker, does the Prime Minister even know that in addition to the vast majority of Canada’s autism community, the Canadian autism partnership has received overwhelming support from every part of our country: the Canadian Association for Community Living, UNICEF Canada, Plan Canada, Save the Children Canada, World Vision Canada, Global Citizen, Hayley Wickenheiser, Elliotte Friedman, and many more.

    Conservative, NDP, and Green members were unanimous in our support for Canadians living with autism, yet every single Liberal, but one, voted against the partnership. Could the Prime Minister please explain this decision?

    Mr. Speaker, through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Government of Canada has invested more than $39 million in autism research over the past five years. This investment contributes to providing the research evidence needed for the development of new tools and treatments for those suffering from autism.

    We recognize the challenges families are going through and we stand ready to support them.



    Andrew Kavchak

    Hi Folks,

    Some interesting fallout from the vote on the CAP motion in the House of Commons yesterday.

    First, Mike Lake posted a picture on his Twitter thing of all the politicians who showed up on “Autism on the Hill” day this year.  He points out that 12 Liberals MPs showed up and were glad to have their picture taken, but all 12 voted against his motion to fund the CAP bureaucracy.

    I’m under the impression that he does not like the taste of his own medicine.  This phenomenon of opposition MPs pretending to support something and then turning on you when they are in government was also very well played out by the Conservatives. I remember organizing numerous rallies in 2004, 2005, and 2006 when the Tories would attend and make all kinds of supportive speeches.  Many of them are referred to at page 5 of this document:

    You may recognize some of the names: Colin Carrie, Steven Fletcher, Pierre Poilievre, Gary Goodyear, Peter Goldring, Guy Lauzon, Stockwell Day, Randy Kamp, Gord Brown, James Lunney, Mark Warawa, Scott Reid, Carol Skelton, etc… Yes, they all came to the rallies and press conferences and said “something had to be done”.

    Then in 2007 these same MPs were asked to vote on Bill C-304, Shawn Murphy’s bill that would have required the federal Minister of Health to meet with provincial counterparts and develop a national autism strategy, as well as including autism treatment in Medicare, and guess what?  All of these Tories, who were previously supportive when they were in opposition, suddenly found that when they were on the government side, they had to vote against the Bill before it could even be sent to the “committee stage” for examination and clause-by-clause review.

    In fact, Mike Lake even issued a typical political tract to explain his position, stating that the Bill was “bad legislation”.  Did he, or any of his caucus colleagues who were previously so anxious to help our community (when they were in opposition) ever propose or table an alternative that he considered “good legislation”?  Nope. So far, the only legislation of any relevance that has become law was Senator Munson’s “Autism Awareness Day” Bill.  But let’s face it, that piece of legislation has not helped one kid get access to treatment under Medicare.

    To me, this episode shows that people like Mike Lake have poor memories and are somewhat hypocritical. It would be nice if while he tries to shame the Liberals who showed up at the “Autism on the Hill” that he would have the honesty, candour, and integrity to point out that this situation is really a “deja vu” for the autism community, and we’re a little fed up with the false bravado and finger-pointing in the usual blame-game.  This drama would be a nice comedy if it wasn’t so tragic.

    Second, there was an interesting news story on Global about the vote….

    The report starts off by saying: “The House of Commons is scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to fund a national partnership that says it will try to get all provinces and territories on the same page when it comes to autism.”

    It later concludes by saying: “It’s unclear if the unifying work being proposed by the Canadian Autism Partnership could be done more efficiently in-house by the government itself.”

    This is one of the points that I previously raised.  We already have a federal Department of Health and a Public Health Agency of Canada, along with 10 provincial Health Departments.  Do we really need another bureaucracy?  Will we eventually try to create new bureaucratic institutions for every disorder/disease/syndrome/illness, etc.? What we really need is political will, and corresponding directions to the existing “civil service”.



    Andrew Kavchak

    Hi Folks,

    Well, the vote on the Opposition Motion regarding the funding of this “Canadian Autism Partnership” Project bureaucracy took place yesterday. Apparently, the day before the Liberal Cabinet indicated it would vote against it.

    167 voted against.

    130 voted in favour.

    Accordingly, the motion was defeated.

    Thus, after 11 years in the House of Commons as an MP, this may appear to be the culmination of all his efforts on the autism file. If he could not do something while his party was in power, I would be surprised if he achieved something meaningful from the opposition.  I remember shortly after Mike Lake was elected that he was interviewed by John Ivison of the National Post, and a huge spread appeared in the paper about Mike Lake, along with pictures. I bumped into Mr. Ivison shortly afterwards on a downtown Ottawa street and spoke with him about the article. He said “He did not run on autism”.

    However, the real question is “now what?”

    Our community already knows what the issues are and we don’t need a new bureaucracy to “identify issues”.  What we need is for our politicians at the federal and provincial levels to show some resolve and negotiate a funding formula that would settle the Auton case issue which has been waiting for a resolution since the Supreme Court of Canada issued its decision in November 2004.


    Andrew Kavchak

    Hi Folks,

    Today is apparently the day in the House of Commons that a vote will take place on Mike Lake’s motion for the government to fund his “Canadian Autism Partnership” pet project.  We’ll see when the Hansard comes out tomorrow whether it contains a list of the MPs who voted for and against.

    It is interesting that at a federal Liberal Party policy convention about two years ago one of the policies that was voted on and adopted involved negotiating a funding formula with the provinces to ensure access to autism treatment under Medicare. It seems that the Liberals have completely forgotten that policy and have left it to gather dust on the shelf.

    Meanwhile, today in Quebec the media is reporting that the family of one six year old girl with autism have decided to go to court and sue the provincial government over their (lack of) autism services.  It seems that this young lady got to the top of the speech therapy wait list, but if she takes it, she will be removed from the occupational therapy wait list.  I remember that the Quebec government took a long time to develop and autism program and that they unveiled it a little while ago.  And that’s what those nincompoops can come up with. So rather than calling on all the provinces to meet with the feds on a priority basis and negotiate a funding accord (as was done with other health issues), the House of Commons is going to vote on a motion that is non-binding (i.e., even if a majority of MPs vote yes, the government is not obligated to do anything) regarding the creation of another bureaucracy that will be dedicated to the task of “issue identification” (as if none of us know what the issues are).


    Andrew Kavchak



    Andrew Kavchak

    Hi Folks,

    FYI, for those who may be interested, it appears that the vote on Mike Lake’s CAP motion will take place in the House of Commons on Tuesday, May 30.  The motion wording is below.  Motions in the House of Commons are “non-binding”. Thus, a politician may vote “yes” on a motion, but if it came later came forward in the form of a Bill (draft legislation), one should not be surprised if they flip-flop and vote “no”.

    “May 5, 2017 — Mr. Lake (Edmonton—Wetaskiwin) — That, given that: (a) Autism Spectrum Disorder (“autism”) is widely considered the fastest growing neurological disorder in Canada, impacting an estimated 1 in 68 children; (b) it is a lifelong diagnosis that manifests itself in a wide-range of symptoms, including difficulty communicating, social impairments, and restricted and repetitive behaviour; (c) individuals with autism and their families face unique challenges over their lifespan, often leading to families in crisis situations; and (d) Autism Spectrum Disorder is not just a health issue—it has overarching implications for Canadian society as a whole; accordingly, the House call on the Government to grant the $19 million over 5 years requested by the Canadian Autism Partnership working group, Self-Advocates advisory group, and the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance, in order to establish a Canadian Autism Partnership that would support families and address key issues such as information sharing and research, early detection, diagnosis and treatment.”

    On a related note, I noticed that Green Party chief Elizabeth May participated in the “debate” on the motion last Thursday. One of the things she raised was the absence of any mention of a National Autism Strategy in the recent federal budget. She subsequently posted a video of herself asking the question (and the non-answer by the government MP) on YouTube. I can’t wait for her video to go viral.


    Andrew Kavchak


    Andrew Kavchak

    Hi Folks,

    Here are some thoughts from that “what goes around, comes around” school of evolution and progress.  I was reflecting some more on the nature of the “debate” on Mike Lake’s motion in the House of Commons this past Thursday regarding his seeking government financial support for his “Canadian Autism Partnership” pet project.  I remember once reading an article in a newspaper back in the 1990s that summarized the findings of an English study on the nature and character of politicians. The article concluded that politicians generally have the ability to lie to people and then have no problem to look at themselves in the mirror. That lack of conscience is frequently associated with the description of a “sociopath”.  Well, in democracies where parties frequently take turns in government and opposition, it gives politicians the ability to be on both ends of the giving and receiving of … shall we say… “untruths”.

    So what am I getting at?  Well, Mike Lake again.  When his party was on the government side, he used numerous arguments to try to obstruct our seeking federal government action to try to get Medicare coverage for autism treatment.  I have already described many of these in previous posts over the years. On occasion he would not “believe” the CDC prevalence rate (that minimizes the problem), or he would say it is not a federal jurisdiction issue, or he would suggest that the federal government is already doing lots by spending lots of money on research, or he would suggest, as he did during his recent speech at the “Autism on the Hill” annual rally, that we should heed the advice of the “self-advocates” because they are the most important spokespeople for the autism community (although those who can speak are clearly high-functioning [more likely to have Aspergers than classical autism], rarely need or promote ABA, and rarely acknowledge the challenges and needs of those more severely affected by the disorder, etc. – how convenient!), etc.

    So what happened during the debate on Thursday?  Much of the debate involved MPs making speeches about what they know about autism and whether or not they support the motion, etc.   However, several times during the debate questions were put to the Liberal Party. Kevin Lamoureux (a misnomer if there ever was one!) who is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, provided several replies. However, if you go through his frequent interjections and replies, they are truly disappointing. First, even though he was apparently the “health critic” in the Manitoba legislature for a while, he either never really understood autism and the related public policy challenges, or he seems to have conveniently forgotten about it all.  You really have to read some of his comments to get a grasp of this “ostrich” style of debate.

    One of the things Lamoureux did was remind everyone that not everyone with autism is in trouble from a functionality point of view. Again, he refered to some bright lights (e.g., Albert Einstein [spelled Eienstein in Hansard] and Dan Akroyd) and stated the most helpful and obvious: “Because someone has autism, it does not mean he or she is completely dysfunctional. In fact, those people are just as lovable as individuals without Asperger’s syndrome and can function fully in society in many different ways. We should also talk about that.” The reference to autistic people being “lovable” is such a reflection of Mike Lake’s annual statement in the House during “Autism Awareness Day” where he never says anything about public policy issues, but gives charming statements about what a lovable person his autistic son is.

    He further refered to the millions ($39 apparently over five years) being spend on research through the CIHR. Then he tried to minimize the size of the problem by saying it is not the “most important issue” because “Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder” is destroying the lives of many children in Manitoba (you see, here is that need to pit the disabled against the disabled pursuant to the “divide and conquer strategy” of the shameless).

    He further went on to say that the Minister of Health gets thousands of requests on a variety of issues and is doing the best it can on the autism file.

    My absolute favourite quote of Lamoureux is: “We take this issue just as seriously as the former government did.”  Indeed, by doing nothing, you can do just as much as the former government!

    It seems to me that what Lamoureux did was give Mike Lake a taste of his own medicine, which is the diversionary and deflective arguments of a politician who wants to give the appearance of doing something, when actually doing nothing.  So how did Mike Lake respond to this (keeping in mind that he is not even asking for autism treatment to be covered by Medicare but $19 million to create a new “autism bureaucracy”)?

    So here is what Mike Lake said during the debate in response to one of Lamoureux’s speeches:

    “Mr. Speaker, I cannot speculate on how much the member cares, but I can comment on what I have heard today. What I have heard today is one of the most mind-numbing and condescending speeches I have ever heard in the House. The member talks about the government being “progressive in pushing this issue forward”. That is demonstrably false, demonstrably untrue.”

    Later, on his Twitter account, Mike Lake received a message from someone named Justin N. McAuley (whom I believe is in “public affairs” at the CIHR), who wrote “just tuned into the debate on Mike Lake MP’s motion on ASD. After hearing some of Lamoureux’s speech, I feel so frustrated for Mike Lake.”  And Mike Lake replied: “Thank you for feeling my pain. It’s absolutely mind-numbing.”

    What?  A politician responded to Mike Lake’s request for some money to set up a bureaucracy by giving him the same kind of arguments that he has given (and continues) to us for years, and he considers it “mind-numbing”, “condescending” and a source of “pain”.  Imagine that!  Well, indeed…what goes around, comes around.  The question is: will Mike Lake change his ways and stop his own “mind-numbing”, “condescending” and “pain” provoking speeches, or will he get on the bandwagon for “Medicare for Autism Now!” and promote some real access to treatment for our kids?


    Andrew Kavchak

    Hi Folks,

    Well, there was a “debate” in the House of Commons yesterday about Mike Lake’s motion for the government to suppor the “Canadian Autism Partnership” (CAP) project.  From my reading and scanning the transcript of the debate, it seems to have started at 10:30 a.m. and finished around 2:00 p.m or so. Then it picked up again around 3:00 p.m. and finished around   The “Hansard” transcript of the debates on Thursday, May 18, 2017, are available at:

    I did a search for a few terms.

    “autism” was mentioned 578 times.

    “medicare” was mentioned once (yes, “1”), when one MP made a reference to the “Medicare for Autism Now” organization.

    “therapy” was mentioned a whopping 4 times (twice when the name of a specific location, the “Chris Rose Therapy Centre” in some MPs riding was mentioned).

    “Auton” (as in the 2004 case that went to the Supreme Court of Canada) was not mentioned at all.

    “access to treatment” was not mentioned (not even once).

    “low functioning” or “low functioning autism” was not mentioned.

    “high functioning” was mentioned twice.

    “Senate report” (i.e., the 2007 “Pay Now or Pay Later” report) was mentioned once.

    “Applied Behaviour Analysis” was mentioned twice, and the acronym “ABA” was mentioned twice.

    “Intensive Behaviour Intervention” was mentioned 6 times, and the acronym “IBI” was mentioned 4 times.

    “National Autism Strategy” is mentioned 4 times.

    “Munson” (a reference to our historic champion in the Senate) was mentioned twice (by one MP).

    “FEAT” was not mentioned.

    “funding agreement” or “funding accord” were not mentioned. “health accord” was mentioned once.

    As I read and scan (it is painful to read) through the text, it seems like a good thing that autism is on the radar screen, but there seems to be a lot of confusion about what the issues are and what needs to be done.  Some talk and discussion may be better than none, but there can be a lot of smoke and mirrors too. I hope something positive eventually evolves from this, but I’m not holding my breath.  As the word stats above demonstrate, key issues were not addressed in any depth and the discussion included a lot of time spent on MPs thanking and congratulating each other, and numerous things other than what I would consider priorities.




    Andrew Kavchak

    Hi Folks,

    Three developments I would like to bring to the attention of those who may be interested.

    First, here’s something interesting from the House of Commons Hansard of May 16, 2017.  The Parliamentary website has now allowed for “e-petitions” for a while, and it may be worthwhile to put it to use (as demonstrated immediately below).



    Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege for me to rise in the House today to present an e-petition that was initiated by Ken Robertson, an urban aboriginal autism activist and a constituent of mine in my riding of Davenport.


    This e-petition calls on the federal government to gather data on urban aboriginal children with autism and the length of the wait list for support for off-reserve children. In addition, it calls for the federal government to work with the provinces, territories, and stakeholders to develop a pan-Canadian strategy for autism spectrum disorder, including awareness and education campaigns; child, adolescent, and adult intervention; and innovative funding arrangements for financing therapy, surveillance, respite care, community initiatives, and basic research.

    I look forward to our government’s response.

    I would like to thank the almost 700 Canadians for supporting this important initiative.”

    Second, it appears from some of the flurry of postings that today in the House of Commons there will be an “opposition day”  (presumably where the opposition party gets to set the agenda), and what has the Conservative Party caucus decided to do?  It has decided to debate a motion about autism.  But not the development of a National Autism Strategy that would see the development of a funding formula to finally see autism treatment covered by Medicare (our national public health insurance program). Nope. Instead, it is about the pet project of Mike Lake and CASDA, etc. namely, the “Canadian Autism Partnership (CAP)” project, about which I have previously written.  I believe the debate is to take place today and the vote next week or so.  The text of the motion is below.  I believe the motion’s sponsor is Mike Lake.

    The reference to the 1 in 68 prevalence rate is interesting.

    When I first met with Mike Lake (with Laurel Gibbons) immediately following his election in 2006, we referred to the prevalence rate, which at that time was considered by the CDC to be higher than what is is now (I think it was “1 in 150” or so) .  His immediate and unequivocal response was “I don’t believe that!”.  In the period immediately aftwards there was a motion sponsored by Liberal Andy Scott and a private members bill from Liberal Shawn Murphy….both of which contained “whereas” type clauses at the beginning that described the situation and context.  During the initial discussions over the first draft of the Bill and the effort to generate broad support, |I was told by a person involved (representing an autism organization) that when they met with Mike Lake he insisted on “watering down” bill, including the “whereas clauses” and the one which contained the prevalence rate (which was more than 1 in 68 at the time).  Imagine that….when the Conservatives are in power, the CDC prevalence rate are not to be believed or mentioned. But when the Liberals are in power, the (ever-worsening) prevalence rate are to be mentioned up front.  It is nice that he seems to finally be coming around to recognizing the CDC’s prevalence rates as being somewhat credible and authoritative (given that we don’t seem to have any corresponding monitoring system in our public policy bureaucracy).  Nonetheless, I would not be surprised if his Conservative Party ever returns to power, that he might suffer from amnesia or something.

    Full text of the motion:
    “May 5, 2017 — Mr. Lake (Edmonton—Wetaskiwin) — That, given that: (a) Autism Spectrum Disorder (“autism”) is widely considered the fastest growing neurological disorder in Canada, impacting an estimated 1 in 68 children; (b) it is a lifelong diagnosis that manifests itself in a wide-range of symptoms, including difficulty communicating, social impairments, and restricted and repetitive behaviour; (c) individuals with autism and their families face unique challenges over their lifespan, often leading to families in crisis situations; and (d) Autism Spectrum Disorder is not just a health issue—it has overarching implications for Canadian society as a whole; accordingly, the House call on the Government to grant the $19 million over 5 years requested by the Canadian Autism Partnership working group, Self-Advocates advisory group, and the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance, in order to establish a Canadian Autism Partnership that would support families and address key issues such as information sharing and research, early detection, diagnosis and treatment.”

    Third, and finally, in constrast to Canadians submitting petitions and getting non-binding motions debated about the creation of a new autism bureaucracy, the “U.S. News and World Report” is reporting that Alabama lawmakers unanimously approved a bill requiring insurers to provide autism treatment coverage. Yes, the vote was unanimous.  When have we ever seen anything like that in a Canadian legislature (provincial or federal) relating to Medicare coverage for autism treatment?  The only Canadian example of related autism unanimity that I can think of is the November 2004 Supreme Court of Canada decision in which the entire bench of judges issued a unanimous decision (written by the Chief Justice), rejecting the B.C. Court of Appeal’s decision in the “Auton” case involving the attempt to get Medicare coverage for autism treatment.

    Way to go Alabama!  I wonder if Mike Lake or any of his cohorts will refer to this Alabama legislative development in their “debate”.


    Andrew Kavchak




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