Government of Canada supports the establishment of a National Autism Network
Another step towards the implementation of a national autism strategy
July 11, 2023 | Richmond, British Columbia | Public Health Agency of Canada
Autism is a lifelong neurodevelopmental condition. Estimates show that about 1 in 50 children and youth in Canada aged 1 to 17 years has been diagnosed with autism. The Government of Canada is committed to improving the health and well-being of Autistic Canadians of all ages and to supporting families and caregivers.
Today, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, on behalf of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, announced up to $500,000 in funding for Autism Alliance of Canada to collaborate with the Pacific Autism Family Network and Autism Speaks Canada to outline the requirements to design, develop, implement, and evaluate a National Autism Network that will support the implementation of a national autism strategy.
The Government of Canada engaged with provinces, territories, Indigenous Peoples, families, and other partners, including through the 2022 National Autism Conference and the Canadian Academy of Health Science's autism assessment. During these consultations, the need for a national strategy that focuses on resource accessibility, research, training, and acceptance, and that responds to the diverse needs that exist within the Autistic population was expressed by many. The Network will help ensure that a national strategy accomplishes that.
The Network will work as an independent body to bring together autism organizations and partners, including individuals with lived and living experience, to share their skills, knowledge and resources to support key autism priorities and provide a forum for ongoing engagement of Autistic communities on federal policies and programs. The autism community is encouraged to share their thoughts on how they could best be represented on the Network through the online survey which is open now until August 4, 2023.
As part of the Government's commitment to supporting Autistic Canadians and their families and caregivers, the Minister also announced $800,000 in additional funding to the Pacific Autism Family Network to manage the Autism and Intellectual Disability Knowledge Exchange Network Project through to March 2024. Funding for this project supports our ongoing commitment to Autism support in Canada.
“By supporting the National Autism Network, we are taking another step towards the creation of an inclusive and comprehensive national autism strategy. It is only by listening to and working with Autistic communities and relevant partners that we will create a strategy that responds to the diverse needs of Autistic people in Canada that focuses on accessibility, research, training, and acceptance.”
The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health
“In the spirit of “Nothing Without Us”, our government is committed to including persons with disabilities in the development of all our programs and services, especially ones that serve the disability community. Creating a National Autism Network will provide consistent and critical engagement from the autism community as we develop the national autism strategy.”
The Honourable Carla Qualtrough
Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion
“Every Autistic person in Canada deserves to be able to live a full and meaningful life. It is important that Autistic Canadians, their families and caregivers are given the opportunity to provide input to shape federal policies and programs that affect them. We want to continue to engage with Autistic communities and partners in the work our government is doing to support autism in Canada. As a first step, through the survey, we would like to hear from them on how they would like to be engaged through a national autism network on an ongoing basis.”
Member of Parliament for Richmond Centre
“Our three organizations are honoured to be asked by the Public Health Agency of Canada to collaborate to achieve another milestone towards an effective National Autism Strategy. By working together and hearing from Autistics, their families, and community partners across the country, we move one step closer towards the creation of a strategy that will meet the needs of all Autistic people in Canada.”
Dr. Jonathan Lai, Executive Director, Autism Alliance of Canada
Sergio Cocchia O.B.C. LL.D. (Hon), Board Chair, President, Pacific Autism Family Network
Jill Farber, Executive Director, Autism Speaks Canada
Bill S-203, the Federal Framework on Autism Spectrum Disorder Act received Royal Assent on March 30, 2023. This legislation outlines a commitment for the development of a federal framework designed to support Autistic people in Canada, their families, and caregivers. The Framework will set broad, high-level guiding principles and best practices and will serve as an umbrella to guide national autism activities.
In 2022, the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences published an assessment report on autism highlighting gaps in knowledge regarding the needs and outcomes of Autistic adults, including quality of life, activities of daily living, loneliness, and mental health. PHAC also hosted a national conference in November 2022 to bring people together from across Canada to identify potential short, medium and long-term priorities for action under a national autism strategy.
On April 19, 2023, the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, announced $214,883 in funding for the Autism Alliance of Canada (AAC) to address gaps in knowledge about the needs and experiences of Autistic adults over the age of 30.
On October 22, 2018, the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, announced more than $10 million for the Pacific Autism Family Network and the Miriam Foundation to develop the Autism and Intellectual Disabilities Knowledge Exchange Network (AIDE Canada), a national website and online resource centre for Canadians.
Over the last five years, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research has invested approximately $78 million in research on autism. This research is increasing our understanding of autism and guiding the development of innovative tools and more effective ways to support people on the autism spectrum and their families.
Budget 2021 provided PHAC with $15.4 million over two years to work collaboratively with provinces, territories, families and stakeholders toward the creation of a national autism strategy. Continued collaboration and knowledge-sharing across sectors and disciplines will help improve our understanding of autism, and support the needs of Autistic people in Canada, their families and caregivers.
Senior Communications Advisor and Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health
Public Health Agency of Canada
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