Actor/Comedian Eugene Levy Gets Serious About Autism

    Celebrity Speaks Out on Need for a National Autism Strategy

    TORONTO, June 11 /CNW/ - 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 long-time 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.

    Media Note: High resolution images of Eugene Levy and of the Deskin and
Whitney families will be available online at 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.

For further information:

For further information: Brenda Deskin: (289) 439-6003; Norrah Whitney:
(416) 779-1265; Or visit

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