Ottawa – The month of October is an opportunity to learn how we can support Autistic people, their families, and their caregivers. It is estimated that 1 in 50 children and youth aged 1 to 17 years have been diagnosed with autism in Canada.
Autism, also known as autism spectrum disorder or ASD is a lifelong neurodevelopmental condition and it is known as a ‘spectrum’ disorder because there is a wide variation in the challenges and strengths of each individual.
The Government of Canada is working to improve the health and well-being of people on the autism spectrum and to supporting caregivers. Over the last five years, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research has invested approximately $68 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 Canadians living with autism and their families.
In 2018, we established the Autism Spectrum Disorder Strategic Fund which supports community-based projects that are aimed at improving health behaviours and supporting the mental, physical, and social wellbeing of individuals, their families and caregivershe negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Budget 2021 reaffirmed our commitment to work with partners to support the creation of a national autism strategy by providing $7 million of new funding over two years, starting in 2021-22. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is working closely with the autism community, and collaborating with provinces, territories, families, Indigenous organizations, and other stakeholders toward the creation of a national autism strategy.
A key milestone in the development of the strategy is the National Autism Conference. As of today, registration for this virtual event is now open to the public.
The virtual national conference will be held on November 15-16, 2022 and will bring together Autistic individuals, their families and caregivers, provinces, territories, Indigenous Peoples and other stakeholders. The discussions that will take place during the conference will help solidify priority areas for action for Canada’s national autism strategy, and identify possible short, medium, and long-term objectives.
This October, I invite you to join me in recognizing Autism Awareness Month by increasing acceptance and support for Autistic Canadians and by learning more about ASD. – Jean-Yves Duclos, P.C., M.P., Minister of Health