The 2021 federal election in Canada is happening on Monday, September 20th. Our #AutisticsVote Toolkit is a guide to help autistic people vote in the federal election and advocate on issues that affect our community. We made this toolkit to help autistics and allies:
Understand how the electoral system and voting process works
Talk about issues that affect autistic people with friends, family, social media networks, and federal candidates
We know that our community is diverse and that autistic people often have trouble voting because of many reasons. This may be because we have many disabilities, are women, are 2SLGBTQIA+ (Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual/aromantic), are BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and/or people of colour), are poor, are living on the streets, or are part of any other group that has more trouble voting because of barriers that the election system creates.
In this toolkit, we have included links to resources for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people, people with physical disabilities, people with cognitive disabilities, non-native speakers of English or French, and youth. We have tried to make the toolkit as plain language as possible. There is alt-text for all images.
Type in your postal code in the box for "Search by postal code".
Click "Who are the candidates in my electoral district?"
Click on the links to the candidates' websites.
Contact page: The websites may have a "contact" page with a contact form and contact information.
Email: Most of the time email addresses are at the top or bottom, or on the contact page of the website.
Phone: Phone numbers are often listed at the top, bottom, or on the contact page of the websites. If you phone before or after the office opening hours, you may be able to just leave a voicemail.
Social media: You can also contact the candidates through their social media accounts, listed on their website. E.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok
When sending the email, make sure to add the name of the MP at the top, and your own name and postal address at the bottom.
You can also change the template to personalize it.
Subject: Your Commitments to Autistic and Disabled People in Canada
Dear Mr./Ms./Mx. ______,
I am writing to you as a member of your constituency, and as a member of Autistics United Canada, a grassroots collective of autistic youth and adults across the country. As one of the few entirely autistic-led organizations in Canada, representing thousands of members, we would like to ask about your party’s commitments to improving the lives of autistic people.
1. Autistic people and otherwise disabled and neurodivergent people face violence, discrimination, and human rights violations daily, at school, work, home, institutions, and healthcare settings. What is your party committing to do to protect the rights, well-being, and safety of autistic and otherwise neurodivergent/disabled people?
2. Will your party commit to meaningfully consulting directly with autistic people of diverse backgrounds and autistic-led organizations whenever creating national autism and disability policy, in accordance with United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and General comment No. 7 (2018) on the participation of persons with disabilities?
3. Canada ranks second last in health care among high-income countries (Schneider et al., 2021). The lack of universal pharma care, vision care, and dental care have been identified as concerns. Will your party implement a universal, single-payer public pharma care, vision, and dental care system? If elected, when will this happen?
4. Autistic people have protested harmful interventions for decades. Applied Behaviour Analysis, a costly intervention, has been widely reported to cause long-term trauma, maladaptive compliance, and vulnerability to abuse (Brown, 2014; Dawson & Fletcher-Watson, 2020; Gardner, 2017; Milton, 2018; Sandoval-Norton & Shkedy, 2019; Wilkenfeld & McCarthy, 2020). ABA has historical and ongoing links to gay and gender-non-conforming conversion therapy, which the federal government has already moved to ban (Pyne, 2020). As well, pseudoscience "cures" for autism are still marketed in Canada and sold by Canadian health care providers (Lindsay, 2020; Weeks, 2019).
Will your party resolve to take stronger measures to ban harmful "treatments" for autism such as Applied Behavioural Analysis, Miracle Mineral Solution, chelation, and fecal matter transplant therapy, and fund neurodiversity-affirming, trauma-informed supports created with autistic consultation in their place? If so, when can we expect this to happen?
5. To ensure that all disabled people have access to safe, affordable, and accessible housing, will your party commit to desegregate housing by closing institutions and re-routing funding towards independent supported living, and funding more than the inadequate 20% new accessible housing targeted in the National Housing Strategy? If elected, what targets will your party commit to and when can we expect they will be achieved?
6. Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) users, including those newly hospitalized during the pandemic and requiring assistive technology, face significant barriers due to inaffordability and maltreatment by school and health care providers (Ganz, 2015; Lindsay, 2010; McQuigge, 2020). Will your party commit to funding affordable early access to AAC and creating a national education program led and informed by AAC users to train health care providers, educators, and other professionals working with autistic and otherwise AAC-using people?
7. While Canadians receiving CERB received up to $38,000, the support offered to disabled people was a mere $600 one-time payment to Disability Tax Credit recipients. Is your party committed to reforming the benefits system such as the DTC and reducing poverty among disabled people in Canada? Will your party commit to working alongside provincial and territorial governments and Indigenous peoples to create a universal guaranteed basic income program? If elected, how and when would your party plan to implement reforms?
8. The passage of Bill C-7 in March 2021 dramatically expanded eligibility for Medical Assistance in Dying to include disabled people not near end-of-life. Human rights and disability justice experts and UN officials have warned that this expansion discriminates against disabled people and lacks adequate safeguards. We are gravely concerned about how disabled people, particularly people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, disabled BIPOC, disabled people in poverty, and other multiply marginalized disabled people, are being coerced and pressured to receive MAiD due to systemic inequities, extreme lack of critical health care, supports and services, and ableist institutional bias.
Will your party commit to reforming MAiD legislation to align with Article 6 and 26 of the UN ICCPR and the Vulnerable Persons Standard, by: 1) restoring more stringent safeguards to protect those vulnerable to coercion? 2) implementing safeguards that disabled people who request MAiD are guaranteed meaningful, timely alternatives to access disability services and supports? 3) collecting and publicly reporting comprehensive data about MAiD (including disaggregated demographic data) to assess whether Canada’s safeguards are adequate? 4) meaningfully involving and actively addressing the concerns of diverse groups of disabled people, especially multiply marginalized disabled people in any review or changes to MAiD?
9. Disabled and neurodivergent children and their families do not have access to affordable, inclusive childcare support. This disproportionately impacts disabled parents, who also face institutional ableism and lack of supports that sanction the removal of their children from their care. Will your party commit to funding affordable, inclusive, neurodiversity-affirming childcare and protecting the rights of disabled parents to keep and raise their own children?
Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing your response.