Cost of FASD will snowball: Ontario nurses

Cost of FASD will snowball: Ontario nurses

By: Craig Gilbert (London Community News), 14 Jan 2014

Accessed on: 14 Jan 2014

Commentary by: Krystal Glowatski

On Monday, two nurses from the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO) presented a case to the Select Committee on Developmental Services, composed of MPPs from all three parties who must put together a report and recommendations for the legislature regarding a comprehensive strategy for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

The message from the nurses was clear: Prevention is key; if Ontario doesn’t “get out in front of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD)… we’ll all pay a lot more down the road.”

The nurses made a point to highlight the extent of FASD costs and problems – both problems for the individuals and larger social problems.  They recognized that FASD isn’t only a health issue but also an education and justice issue.  Liberal MPP Soo Wong stepped in to highlight this point by stating, “You might label little Johnny as a behavioural problem when in fact he has a medical condition…  And it’s preventable.  Teachers are not familiar with this term and are therefore not properly supported in the classroom.  It’s not just about the health sector.  It clearly is an education, a justice issue: they intertwine.”

While BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba have already created comprehensive strategies for dealing with FASD and mental health issues Ontario has yet to do so.  The nurses are calling on the government to set this into motion now.

Currently, FASD Ontario Network of Expertise’s (ONE) website states they are drafting one.

In these projects there is often a heavy focus on prevention.  But what about all of the individuals who have already been diagnosed?  Or worse yet – those who have FASD but don’t even know it.  What should be done about individuals who are in dire need of assessment, diagnosis, and services?

Edmonton conference calls for changes to the justice system to protect sufferers of fetal alcohol disorder.

Edmonton conference calls for changes to the justice system to protect sufferers of fetal alcohol disorder.

By Keith Green, Edmonton Journal (September 20th, 2013) (Accessed September 23rd, 2013)

Commentary by: Shauna Makie

On September 18th-20th 2013 approximately 300 attendies including judges, academics, lawyers, policy-makers and social workers were brought together to engage in conversation and discuss the complexities around FASD and the criminal justice system. Harboured in Edmonton, Alberta, 14 jurors, led by Ian Binnie—a former judge who served on the top court from 1998 to 2011—listened to several presentations from doctors, academics, lawyers and judges pledging their case to make changes to the criminal justice system to account for FASD. Some presentations brought forth ideas such as retracting mandatory minimums for FASD sufferers, reduce “administration of justice” charges, implementation of mandatory FASD screening at correctional facilities and for every child going into care, consideration of supportive housing rather than incarceration, and an update to the mental disorder defence. The recommendations stem from the identification regarding the range of impairments that can be experienced by those living with FAS which becomes problematic for the Criminal Justice System that is created to fit a “one size fits all” doctrine. Often times, the accused are held to standards that they cannot attain and therefore enter the “revolving door” of the criminal justice system and become debilitated by legalities.

While encompassing all aspects of FAS, discussions around monitoring, or intervention techniques for women who may or may not be pregnant were also highlighted to address the rights of the woman and how these techniques may become very intrusive. The complexity of delegating between rights of the woman and rights of the unborn were identified as a challenge that would have to be further investigated and discussed at the conference the following week (September 23rd-25th) at the First International Conference on Prevention of FASD in Edmonton. Overall, the conference identified a need for more training and screening in order to develop more tailored expectations for those living with FASD along side legal sanctions for those at risk by the concrete nature of the law.