FEAT - Ontario
Families for Early Autism Treatment
June 11, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ACTOR/COMEDIAN EUGENE LEVY GETS SERIOUS ABOUT AUTISM
Celebrity Speaks Out on Need for a National Autism Strategy
Toronto – Canada’s highly acclaimed actor, director and screenwriter, Eugene Levy, is departing from his traditional funnyman role,
but this time there are no scripts, no directors and no film cameras in sight.
“I feel extremely passionate about the need for a National Autism Strategy”, states Levy, who has signed on as a spokesman for
the cause and will be teaming up with Senator Jim Munson for a press conference in Toronto at 10:00 am on Wednesday, June
13, 2007 at the Intercontinental Toronto Yorkville Hotel (Portman Room).
“Canada is blessed in so many ways but somehow some of our most vulnerable citizens are being wrongfully neglected,” Levy says.
“It is time to address this wrong and provide these individuals with the same access to medically necessary treatment that the rest
of us enjoy throughout our lifetimes under our country’s allegedly universal health care system.”
Autism is included in the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases, Revision 10 (ICD-10) and afflicts
individuals of all races, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds. It is fast becoming a North American epidemic of staggering
proportions. According to the world-renowned US Centers for Disease Control, one in every 150 children (one in every 94 boys) is
today being diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. It is more common than pediatric cancer, diabetes and AIDS, combined.
While there is no cure for this mysterious yet tragic neuro-genetic condition, proven effective, science-based treatment for autism
does exist. It is called Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), also known as Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI).
Norrah Whitney, the mother of an autistic son and Executive Director of Families for Early Autism Treatment (FEAT) - Ontario,
states, “Many are forced into privately funded treatment, with a price tag of $70 to $80 thousand per year. Families are losing
their homes and cashing in their retirement savings yet are still not able to sustain treatment for their children. This is nothing
other than a two-tiered healthcare system”, says Whitney, who in an ironic twist, is the granddaughter of the late John Leo
Whitney, one of the founding architects of OHIP.
“We need more than a dedicated page on a Health Canada website, or a ‘stakeholders’ symposium’,” states Brenda Deskin, a longtime advocate for people with autism and plaintiff in the well-known Deskin-Wynberg court action. “We are seeking equal treatment
under the law — the same approach that has been taken when our country faced other health-related emergencies. Canada has a
crisis on its door-step, one that demands a concrete and immediate plan of action, one that includes the provision of publicly
funded, evidence-based treatment for people of all ages afflicted by autism.”
Levy will be sharing his personal views on autism. The event will also mark the unveiling of a practical, multi-faceted strategy that,
if implemented by the federal government, would bring autism under Medicare and end the discrimination against people with
autism in Canada.
“It is only when ABA – the most effective, science-based treatment for autism – is brought under the Medicare umbrella and made
available to Canadians who suffer from this core health need, that we can rightfully claim to be a nation committed to the values of
universal healthcare,” states Senator Jim Munson.
For further information contact:
Brenda Deskin: 289-439-6003 Norrah Whitney: 416-779-1265
Or visit www.featontario.org
Media Note: High resolution images of Eugene Levy and of the Deskin and Whitney families will be available online at
www.featontario.org immediately after the press conference.
It is with the utmost of appreciation that the event organizers recognize the Intercontinental Hotel for the most generous donation of
their facilities for this event.