Autism: National autism strategy
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 Canadians, their families and caregivers.
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National autism strategy updates
The Government of Canada is committed to improving the health and well-being of people on the autism spectrum and to supporting caregivers. We're also committed to creating a national strategy for autism (also known as autism spectrum disorder or ASD) by working with:
- Autistic people
We invested $1.67 million in a broad and inclusive assessment process to:
- inform the development of the strategy
- make sure it's responsive to the needs of the autism community
The Canadian Academy of Health Sciences led this process. They're a neutral and independent not-for-profit organization that:
- conducts research and engagement
- develops evidenced-based conclusions on a range of complex health and health-related issues
The academy developed a final report on autism that considers evidence-based information and a wide range of views from:
- Autistic people
- their families
- other relevant stakeholders
Learn more about:
National autism conference
We hosted a national conference on November 15 and 16, 2022 to bring together the views of:
- Autistic people
- Indigenous partners
- families and caregivers
- provinces and territories
We'll use what we learned from the conference to solidify our priorities and help develop a national autism strategy.
Learn more about:
- Canadian Academy of Health Sciences
- Canadian Academy of Health Sciences: Assessment on Autism Engagement Process
- News release: Government of Canada announces partnership with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences to lead consultations for the National Autism Strategy
Existing federal initiatives
These Government of Canada initiatives also benefit Autistic people in Canada.
Autism and Intellectual Disabilities Knowledge Exchange Network (AIDE Canada)
AIDE Canada gives people on the autism spectrum, their families and caregivers access to:
- online resources
- local programming
- employment opportunities
- an inventory of services and supports
There are 6 AIDE Canada locations across the country where you can access resources and supports in person.
Learn more about:
Autism Spectrum Disorder Strategic Fund
This fund is providing $9.1 million over 5 years for community-based projects that support people in the autism community by:
- addressing needs across a person's life
- integrating health, social and educational components
- pursuing innovative and community-based program models
- focusing on times of transition from youth to adult and from adult to senior
Learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorder Strategic Fund.
About the fund
Budget 2018 announced $9.1 million over 5 years for an Autism Spectrum Disorder Strategic Fund.
The fund is designed to support innovative community-based projects that will provide tangible opportunities for Canadians on the autism spectrum, their families and caregivers to gain knowledge, resources and skills. Project activities should lead to improved health behaviours and, in the longer term, improve wellbeing of individuals on the autism spectrum, their families and caregivers.
Projects from the last call for proposals aim to include activities that will improve health behaviours, address the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and support the mental, physical and social wellbeing of individuals on the autism spectrum, their families and caregivers.
Projects were funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) through 2 different rounds under the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Strategic Fund.
|Date||Organization||Project title||Project description||PHAC funding|
|2019||Autism Ontario||Mental Health Matters Project||Mental Health Matters will adapt 2 evidence-based mental health promotion programs from the Canadian Mental Health Association for adults living with ASD and their caregivers. The project aims to help adults living with ASD and their caregivers gain the skills and knowledge they need to cope with the various challenges they face.||$524,431|
|2019||Autism Resource Centre||Building Block Program||The Autism Resource Centre will develop and deliver pre-employment and life skills activities for people living with ASD in Indigenous populations and Indigenous communities. The centre will also create a resource guide to increase awareness and knowledge of ASD in those communities. The program will include core workplace skills and independent living and social skills, and components of mental health and wellness services.||$518,964|
|2019||Jake's House for Autistic Children||The Legends Mentoring Program Adult Expansion (LMPAE)||The Legends of Mentoring Program Adult Expansion will support young adults with ASD to transition from high school to adulthood and employment by matching them with a trained mentor. Mentors will provide support to develop social, behavioural and employment-related skills.||$600,000|
|2019||York University||The Autism Mental Health Promotion Project||The Autism Mental Health Promotion Project will take a two-step approach to mental health promotion. York University will develop and distribute mental health literacy materials for older adolescents and adults with ASD, as well as their families and caregivers. This project will also implement evidence-based online and in-person interventions to improve the ability of individuals with ASD and their families to cope with stressors.||$599,300|
|2019||Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal||La danse pour le mieux-être||"La danse pour le mieux-être" aims to improve the wellbeing of individuals with ASD through the benefits of dance. The National Centre for Dance Therapy will offer recreational dance classes adapted to the specific needs of individuals with ASD. The classes will be offered by dance professionals with the assistance of health professionals.||$184,167|
|2019||McGill University (Royal Institute for the Advancement of Learning)||Caregiver Skills Training Program : Scaling up to underserved communities||The Caregiver Skills Training Program aims to provide evidence-based skills training for caregivers who work in community settings with children who have ASD. McGill University will directly train master trainers and facilitators, who in turn will deliver the program to families within their own communities.||$600,000|
|2019||Giant Steps School (Canadian Institute for Neuro-Integrative Development)||Next Steps: Industry-Based Adult Education and Employment Initiative||Giant Steps School has developed programs in partnership with George Weston Limited. and the English Montreal School Board. The programs focus on helping people with ASD gain employment knowledge and skills, and access to resources. This project includes bilingual employment readiness programs that will prepare individuals living with ASD for general employment.||$597,242|
|2022||Autism Ontario||Community Care Project: Resource Kits for Culturally Diverse Families of Autistic People||Autism Ontario will lead the curation and dissemination of 3,300 culturally inclusive resources to marginalized and racialized families living with ASD across Ontario, Alberta, and the Yukon. The resource kits will include culturally inclusive resources and access to autism-based professionals.||$361,374|
|2022||Centre for Addiction and Mental Health||Coping with COVID||The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health will address the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Autistic Canadians and their caregivers. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health will provide online forums for Autistic adults and their families to offer and receive peer support through social connection.||$468,817|
|2022||McGill University (The Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning)||The Caregivers Skills Training Program (CST): Building Back Better||McGill University will create an online platform where caregivers of Autistic children can acquire the necessary knowledge, skills and resources to improve their well-being and child functioning. The project aims to reach low-income populations disproportionately affected by COVID-19.||$470,000|
|2022||Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Ste-Justine||AUTISME 5 SSE : Soutien social, soins sans stigma et savoir expérientiel||The Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Ste-Justine will deliver the AUTISME 5SSE (Social Support, Stigma-Free Care, and Experiential Knowledge) project. This project will address the COVID-19 pandemic's effect on the determinants of health of Autistic individuals and their families. The project aims to reduce stigma and develop social support for people living with autism during a pandemic.||$469,485|
|2022||Centre d'innovation sociale en agriculture (CISA)||L'insertion socioprofessionnelle des jeunes adultes présentant un trouble du spectre de l'autisme par l'agroalimentaire||The "Centre d'innovation sociale en agriculture" will develop and test the "L'insertion socioprofessionnelle des jeunes adultes présentant un trouble du spectre de l'autisme par l'agroalimentaire" program. The program aims to support young Autistic adults to enter the workforce in the agrifood industry. If successful, this project will serve as a model that could help thousands of Autistic individuals to enter the workforce and become financially independent.||$442,020|
|2022||Spectrum Productions||Spectrum Creative Network: Capacity Building for Nationwide Impact||Spectrum Productions will adapt its in-studio programs and services into a national virtual hub. The hub will allow Autistic creatives of all levels to engage with an inclusive, diverse and supportive community. Users will also be able to access various social, educational, training and employment opportunities.||$464,945|
Employment and Social Development Canada
Employment and Social Development Canada's initiatives include the:
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