Message from the Minister of Health on Autism Awareness Month


October 4, 2023 | Ottawa, ON | Public Health Agency of Canada

October is Autism Awareness Month, where we come together to increase understanding and awareness of autism and to help end the stigma and discrimination that some Autistic people experience.

It is estimated that 1 in 50 children and youth aged 1 to 17 have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in Canada. Autism is often referred to as a spectrum condition because there is a wide range in the type and intensity of characteristics. Experiences of Autistic people often vary, as do the type and extent of supports they need over their lifetime. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) continues to explore options to measure and report on the impact of autism in adults living in Canada. These efforts help to build the evidence base required to inform public health actions aimed at improving the health and well-being of Autistic people throughout their lives.

The Government of Canada is working to improve the health and well-being of people who are Autistic, their families and caregivers and to support their diverse needs. Through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and PHAC, we have invested in research that seeks to increase our understanding of autism, guiding the development of innovative tools and more effective ways to provide supports.

PHAC has been developing a Framework for Autism in Canada. It will outline broad overarching principles and best practices to guide national autism activities to support Autistic people living in Canada, their families, and caregivers.PHAC is also working towards launching an autism strategy for Canada, which will address the needs of Autistic people through federal initiatives that allow them to live, work and play to their fullest ability. Once completed, the Strategy and Framework will guide the federal government's Autism policy direction to ensure it meets the needs of everyone impacted by this condition.

Engagement activities with Autistic people, their families, caregivers and other partners, as well as ongoing collaboration with provinces, territories, and Indigenous organizations are key in the development of the Framework and the Strategy. For example, the 2022 Canadian Academy of Health Sciences' Assessment on Autism, and PHAC's 2022 National Autism Conference helped solidify key priority areas, including:

  • timely and equitable access to screening, diagnosis and services;
  • financial support for Autistic people living in Canada, their families and caregivers;
  • culturally relevant tools and resources;
  • autism awareness and acceptance;
  • and further research, public health surveillance and data collection on autism in Canada.

Caregivers also play an essential role in the quality of care received by Autistic people, which is why our government is supporting hourly wage increases for personal support workers and related professions. Some caregivers may benefit from the non-refundable Canada caregiver credit which provides tax relief to those caring for a dependent loved one.

This October, I invite you to join me in recognizing Autism Awareness Month by learning more about autism to increase acceptance and support for Autistic people. Let's all work on building a more inclusive and accepting society.

The Honourable Mark Holland, P.C., M.P.


Christopher Aoun
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Mark Holland
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Health Canada

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