Here today….gone tomorrow?
Previous to 2001, there was NO autism funding in BC. There are currently no laws that protect our funding or our children’s access to autism treatment. Here’s how we got the current autism funding and a look at how precarious it is:
• 1996 – The autism treatment movement in BC begins with FEAT of BC (Families for Early Autism Treatment of BC) founded by Dr. Sabrina Freeman. FEAT advocates for universal accessibility to autism treatment for everyone that needs it.
• 1998 – 30 BC families initiated the landmark Auton case which sought a court order stating that failure to provide publicly funded, medically necessary autism treatment constitutes discrimination and is a violation of the Charter of Freedoms and Right’s section 15 equality provisions.
• July 2000 – At the BC Supreme Court declared that EIBI or ABA is a “medically necessary” service and must be funded by the government.
• August 2000 – the BC NDP’s appeal the decision of the BC Supreme Court.
• While in opposition, Liberals were publicly outraged and called for full funding of autism treatment.
• May 2001 – Gordon Campbell wins provincial election and becomes Premier of BC. In opposition Campbell had promised to fully fund treatment for children with autism.
• Later that year…in power, Gordon Campbell approves partial funding of autism treatment, agreeing to provide up to $20,000 for ABA treatment for each child with autism under the age of 6.
• February 2002 – the BC Liberals continue the appeal against the ruling of the BC Supreme Court that the government should fully fund ABA treatment.
• 2004 – The Supreme Court of Canada hears the Auton appeal. This judgment upheld the findings of fact from the BC Supreme Court that ABA Treatment was medically-necessary! BUT…
the judgement did not order the provinces to pay for this treatment, saying it was a political matter, not a legal one.
The serious flaw in the Supreme Court of Canada judgement was that this court, the highest court in the land, did not wanted to force the provinces how to spend their health care dollars.
As noted constitutional lawyer, Mary Eberts said, “This Supreme Court of Canada has effectively given away the store. I think they have torn the guts out of s.15.”
Think you are safe with your funding now? It can be changed or taken away with the stroke of a pen…
• July 2008 – Premier Gordon Campbell and Children’s Minister Tom Christensen for reversing their stated positions on the use of an IQ of 70 as a measure in assessing elgibility of developmentally disabled persons for receipt of government services.
• September 2009 – MCFD Minister Mary Polak announces changes to autism funding which include discontinuing EIBI services to the tune of $5 million per year and the removal of the direct funding option and gives the government complete control of autism funds.
• November 2013 – MCFD Minister Stephanie Cadieaux announces direct funding option for families who children are over 12….with many caveats.
What can you do?
• The most important thing you can do is advocate for your child to make sure they are accessing evidence based treatment and support at home, at school and in the community.
• Keep informed. The Association for Science in Autism Treatment has an excellent website with information for parents about becoming savvy consumers at evaluating treatment options and service providers at http://www.asatonline.org. They also publish a free quarterly e-newsletter.
• Read and understand the Auton and Hewko decisions. These decisions outline critical facts which you can use to advocate for your children’s treatment both at home and in school.
• Get active during elections! Understand that School Board Trustees, MLA’s and MP’s are elected officials whose job is to serve their constituents. Parents CAN affect the outcome of elections. The next provincial general election is in May 2017.
PAY IT FORWARD so that a stronger ABA community can make it easier for families to advocate for their children