Ontario Human Rights Complaints Join Legal Actions Across Canadas

TORONTO, January 24, 2003:
A group of 50 families representing Ontario families of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder announced today that they have submitted 50 individual claims to the Ontario Human Rights Commission against the Ontario Government. The families have undertaken this action in an attempt to end the systemic discrimination that denies Ontario children a necessary medical intervention. Although the Ontario government recognizes the need for intensive behavioral intervention (IBI/ABA), it refuses to fund the treatment for children over the age of six. The parents insist that the treatment be made available to all the children who need it regardless of age.This concerted action by families of children with autism joins legal action in several Canadian provinces. In October 2002, the British Columbia Court of Appeals ruled against the B.C. government and established a clear precedent that it is discriminatory under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms for a provincial government to deny medically necessary fully funded IBI for children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder for all ages for as long as deemed beneficial by the child’s physician.

The Newfoundland Human Rights Commission recently directed the Newfoundland Health department to eliminate all waiting lists for intensive intervention for young children with autism. A class action is ongoing in Quebec that is not only demanding that IBI be made available to all children with autism spectrum disorders but also requesting compensation for children with autism who have been condemned to a severe lifelong handicap because they have been denied medically necessary early intervention.

Many of the provinces falsely claim that they cannot afford to fund the treatment which costs in range from $25,000 to $50,000 per year over several years, and although the cost is high, there is research ongoing to explore how to deliver the treatment in the most cost efficient manner while maintaining the positive results. However, the cost of intensive early intervention pales when compared to the average multi-million dollar lifelong cost to governments for supporting a person with autism who has not benefited from effective early treatment.

Cost-benefit studies have demonstrated that if all children with autism were provided with early intensive behavioral intervention, the current annual cost in Canada of providing services to people with autism, which is estimated at $3 billion, will be cut in half.
It is estimated that in Canada, there are currently about 100,000 people with autism spectrum disorders. Over the last decade there has been an increase of epidemic proportions in the number of new cases with about a 60% increase in Canadian reported cases in the past few years.

In California, autism now represents 40% of all children with developmental disabilities which enter the California service system. This means that the cost of autism conditions in Canada will rise to staggering levels unless accurate early diagnosis, effective treatment and adequate supports are provided to all people with autism conditions on a universal and accessible basis.

Autism Society Canada look to Health Canada for leadership I ensuring that the Canada Health Act is applied in every province without discrimination for all people with Autism spectrum Disorders through the universal provision of effective treatments.

Contact: Laurie Turza, Autism Society Canada Executive Director Tel/Fax: (519) 942-8720, Toll free: (866) 874-3334

E-mail: asc@on.aibn.com

Lisa Simmermon, President, Autism Society Canada, Tel: (306) 545-0966, E-mail simmermon@accesscomm.ca

Peter Zwack, Vice President, Autism Society Canada, Tel: (514) 987-3000 ext 3304#, E-mail zwack.peter@uqam.ca

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