Message from the Minister of Health – World Autism Awareness Day


April 2, 2024 | Ottawa, ON | Public Health Agency of Canada

Today is a day to raise awareness of autism worldwide. It is a time where all are encouraged to improve their knowledge and understanding of the different experiences and characteristics of individuals on the autism spectrum. It is also a day to showcase the value that autistic perspectives bring to our workplaces, educational spaces and communities.

This day is also about recognition, and the sharing of stories to celebrate the successes of Autistic people. We can learn so much from hearing about life experiences. Sharing personal stories fosters openness and inclusivity which are key to achieving true acceptance. Increased awareness and acceptance, in turn, create more opportunities for Canadians on the autism spectrum to thrive and reach their full potential.

Our government is actively collaborating with the autism community towards a shared goal of improving the health and well-being of Autistic people in Canada. Addressing the complex and diverse needs of Autistic people requires a coordinated effort between all levels of government and service providers. Feedback from those with autism, caregivers and families, Indigenous partners and other stakeholders will help us as we collectively plan for the future.

A year ago, the government passed important legislation that calls for the development of a federal framework designed to support Autistic people in Canada, their families and caregivers. In the coming months, this framework will be released outlining broad overarching principles and best practices to guide the national autism policy, programs and activities in Canada at all levels of government. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) continues to work on the development of an autism strategy. It will complement the framework and will support its implementation. The strategy will be a multi-year action plan that outlines specific short and medium-term initiatives at the federal level. It will include measures that address each of the key priorities shared last fall.

The strategy will build on existing federal programs and initiatives, including the Disability Inclusion Action Plan led by Employment and Social Development Canada and disability-related tax measures offered through the Canada Revenue Agency, such as the Disability Tax Credit. The strategy will also be informed by recommendations founded in the ongoing research on autism by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and its support of the Pediatric Autism Research Cohort (PARC). PARC was created to better address the diversity of autism, to help develop care plans that are geared to an autistic child's specific needs and to inform government programs and policies in offering personalized services and supports for those children and their families.

Engagement with Indigenous communities to identify autism priorities that reflect their needs in a way that is self-determined and culturally appropriate is ongoing. The results of this engagement will inform future updates to the strategy.

Together, the strategy and framework will guide Canada's direction by supporting Autistic people living in Canada, their families and caregivers. Our government is also determining an approach for this important work to be carried out by a national network of key stakeholders.

Every Autistic person should have the right to self determination, and to achieve their ultimate potential without unnecessary systemic obstacles. By working together, we can ensure Autistic individuals in Canada are heard, understood and accepted.

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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