National Autism Strategy: What the parties are promising

CASDA report card for the Federal party commitment to a NAS, updated Oct 16, 2019 to include the LPC

After a late pre-election push, CASDA recently awarded all 4 major federal parties with a check-mark on their National Autism Strategy (NAS) commitment “report card.”

Some checks are more deserving than others, so let’s review what each party has said.

NDP

The NDP were the first to release their official platform, and the first to include a commitment to a NAS, albeit a single sentence, seen below:

From their costing, we later found out that they’ve earmarked $25 million per year for the strategy.

Recently, in a piece by Power & Politics, the clip opens with Jagmeet Singh speaking directly about a NAS:

So the NDP have committed to creating a NAS, but how they will approach it, or what it will look like, is still TBD.

Conservatives

It comes as no surprise that Edmonton-Wetaskiwin MP Mike Lake will be running point on the CPC version of a NAS.

He was even given the opportunity to make the announcement himself, alongside his son Jaden:

The planned budget is $10 million/yr.

In 2017, while in opposition, Lake brought a motion for a Canadian Autism Partnership (CAP) to a vote in the House, ultimately voted down by the LPC.

The ask for that plan was $19 million over 4 years, so this new push does have a higher budget than CAP, but with much fewer details so far.

Taken from the CPC official statement of release:

“An initial investment of $50 million over five years would be invested to develop a comprehensive strategy in consultation with autistic individuals, autism organizations, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments, and indigenous communities.”

So according to the wording, the NAS still needs to be developed.

Given Mike Lake’s previous work with CAP and CASDA, it’s surprising that a strategy was not already worked out.

Green Party

Autism wasn’t mentioned in the official platform from the Greens, but it did show up in the prior Vision Green document, again as a single sentence, as seen here:

Initially, the Greens were not given a check-mark by CASDA on their NAS commitment, but following a meeting with leader Elizabeth May, that was remedied.

The details of that meeting are unknown, but it seems a verbal commitment was enough to tip the scales. It would be great to see more in writing though of what May officially agreed to.

Realistically, the Greens are only expected to win 3 or 4 seats, so their voting power is quite limited.

Liberal Party

Pre-platform release, the LPC MPs were overwhelmingly the most vocal advocates for a NAS:

So when their platform came out, and there was no formal NAS included, MPs, stakeholders, and families alike were surprised and disappointed.

The most notable platform promise was the doubling of the Child Disability Benefit to $5,600/yr. However, this would only benefit children approved for the Child Disability Tax Credit.

A coordinated effort was made by CASDA, Autism Speaks, the Ontario Autism Coalition, and Senator Jim Munson to push Prime Minister Trudeau and the LPC to commit more formally to a NAS.

CASDA did elect to give the LPC a check-mark after the following statement was made from a party spokesperson:

It’s important to note that this statement simply lists previous commitments, which apparently “includes working collaboratively, as we have always done, towards a national autism strategy.”

As they’ve always done? Ummm … what?

It’s disappointing that CASDA felt this was enough to fulfill their commitment requirement, as there are many who feel this falls far short, especially given the internal push for a true National Autism Strategy from dozens of Liberal MPs.

It’s clear that no party really hit it out of the park. They’ve made various levels of “commitments,” but there is still much work to be done.

Autism support is a non-partisan issue.

Regardless of who forms government, I hope that all parties are ready to work together, and make real progress on this, once and for all.

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Dad to 2 kids on the spectrum. Autism Advocate.

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Patrick Monaghan

Patrick Monaghan

Dad to 2 kids on the spectrum. Autism Advocate.

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