At the bottom of this page you will find a list of important British Columbia autism court judgments.
A group of parents organized a class-action lawsuit in 1999. Although the judge did not certify the class, she created a representative action, which was an interesting hybrid. The July 2000 BC Supreme Court decision was the strongest precedent to date in favor of Lovaas-type Intensive Behavioral Autism Treatment (Intensive ABA or EIBI). The court declared that EIBI or ABA is a “medically necessary” service and must be funded by the government. The BC Supreme Court has ruled that the current failure to fund this treatment constitutes direct government ‘discrimination’ against children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and is a breach of the Canadian Constitution (Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Section 15(1)). The BC Government filed a ‘Notice of Appeal’ in August, 2000. Government lawyers confirmed in February, 2001 that the BC Government would proceed with their appeal of the Auton decision. The BC Supreme Court remedy in the Auton decision, handed down February, 2001 was heard in BC Court Appeal in 2002 and was a strong ruling in favour of the families (handed down in October 2002). FEAT BC press release regarding the two-day Court of Appeal hearings.
The BC Government appealed the Court of Appeal ruling to the highest court in Canada: The Supreme Court of Canada agreed to hear the case.
The Anderson ruling (BC Supreme Court, 08/22/03) was a companion court case that ruled in favour of the families. The action was brought by the families since the BC Government reneged on its agreement — made before a BC Supreme Court Judge during the Auton Class Action Certification hearings — to apply whatever ruling comes out of the Auton case to ALL families participating in the Auton case, not just the four children named as representative petitioners. The BC Government appealed the Auton ruling and even after its loss in Court of Appeal, the Attorney General’s lawyer persisted in violating the solemn agreement made by her predecessor to provide remedy for all the families in the action. The Anderson ruling served to enforce that agreement and defeat government’s specious argument that the other children in the Auton case do not all share a similar disorder that requires publicly funded, medically necessary autism treatment. The Anderson ruling was successful.
In 2004, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled against the families and, in effect, rolled back disability rights in Canada almost a decade, prior to the important disability rights case of Eldridge v. AGBC File No. 24896, 1997. Although the Eldridge decision has nothing to do with autism (it is about the rights of the deaf to government paid medical sign language interpreters), it was a pivotal case in terms of the rights of the disabled.