Government of Canada Supports National Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Mentoring Project for Indigenous Peoples Living Off Reserve
New funding brings FASD training directly to communities
November 13, 2018 - Ottawa, ON - Public Health Agency of Canada
People born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) can face life-long mental, physical, behavioural and learning disabilities. In Canada, FASD is the leading known cause of preventable developmental disability, occurring when a fetus is exposed to alcohol during pregnancy. FASD affects not only the diagnosed individual, but also their families, caregivers and communities. That is why the Government of Canada is committed to supporting Canadians living with this disorder.
Today, the Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, on behalf of the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, announced $1.1 million over three years to help support Indigenous children who have, or may have, FASD as well as their families. The National FASD Mentoring Project, led by the Saskatchewan Prevention Institute, will provide culturally and linguistically appropriate FASD information and awareness sessions to support Indigenous children and their families living off reserve across Canada.
The Saskatchewan Prevention Institute will work with the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities (AHSUNC) program staff and community Elders throughout the project to ensure that information sessions respond to the needs of communities. Training will take place at AHSUNC off-reserve community sites across Canada over the next three years.
The funding announced today helps to address the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action related to FASD. The National FASD Mentoring Project will help build community capacity for the prevention of FASD as well as provide evidence-based information about FASD in a culturally appropriate manner.
“The National Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Mentoring Project is a major step toward increasing awareness of the risks of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Early intervention is crucial to improving outcomes for individuals with FASD and their families. This program will improve knowledge and raise awareness of FASD in communities across Canada where the AHSUNC programs are offered.”
The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health
“Alcohol consumption can sometimes seem commonplace. However, it is not without risk, especially during pregnancy. With this funding, the Saskatchewan Prevention Institute will work with Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities sites across Canada to provide FASD information and resources in the communities they serve so that Canadian children can have the best start in life.”
The Honourable Ralph Goodale
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
“FASD is a lifelong disorder that can result in physical, mental, behavioural and learning disabilities. We need to support women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant to have healthy, alcohol-free pregnancies.”
Dr. Theresa Tam
Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer
“We are pleased to have received this funding to continue our work supporting individuals, families and communities affected by FASD. We look forward to working with communities to further FASD prevention and early identification strategies that are evidence-based, trauma-informed and culturally appropriate. The national network of Mentors allows this important work to reach communities across Canada, increasing community capacity in the areas of FASD prevention and support for those affected by FASD.”
Executive Director, Saskatchewan Prevention Institute
While the exact prevalence of FASD is not known, it is estimated that 1% of Canadians suffer from the disorder.
The National FASD Mentoring Project helps address Call to Action #33 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Call to Action #33 calls on federal, provincial and territorial governments to take steps to prevent FASD, in a culturally appropriate manner, in collaboration with Indigenous peoples.
The Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines issued by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction recommends it is safest to not drink alcohol when pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
Office of Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health
Public Health Agency of Canada
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