Justin Trudeau Announces Endorsement for Development of a National Autism Strategy

Autism Alliance of Canada* welcomes the news that the Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada announced his support for the development of a National Autism Strategy.

The Prime Minister’s announcement was made during a pre-recorded message that was delivered during Pacific Autism Family Network’s 2019 Launch Holiday Luncheon. In his remarks, Prime Minister Trudeau stated that he is in support to “develop and implement a National Autism Strategy.” He also added that “together, we are going to keep finding new ways to ensure that every family has the chance to succeed.”

“Our organization has worked tirelessly in collaboration with members of the Autism community to advocate for a National Autism Strategy,” said Dr. Jonathan Lai, Executive Director of Autism Alliance of Canada. “We are increasingly seeing provinces and territories struggle to address the complex issues pertaining to autism across the lifespan. Without a consistent, streamlined approach based on best-practices, these jurisdictions are making decisions essentially in silos.”

Our organization has worked tirelessly in collaboration with members of the Autism community to advocate for a National Autism Strategy. We are increasingly seeing provinces and territories struggle to address the complex issues pertaining to autism across the lifespan. Without a consistent, streamlined approach based on best-practices, these jurisdictions are making decisions essentially in silos.

Headshot of Dr. Jonathan Lai

Dr. Jonathan Lai
Executive Director, Autism Alliance of Canada.

This announcement follows Autism Alliance of Canada’s development of Autism Alliance of Canada’s Blueprint for a National Autism Strategy which was the starting point for the discussion, while the pillars outlined within the blueprint are all directly attributed to the consultations Autism Alliance of Canada has held over the last several years. Autism Alliance of Canada is dedicated to making sure that any National Autism Strategy developed is reflective of the diverse makeup of the Autistic community.

“This announcement is the result of people investing so much time and energy into working hard for essential basic human rights for themselves, their family members and loved ones,” said Debbie Irish, Chair of Autism Alliance of Canada. “This is an opportunity for the government to display much needed leadership in bringing such a significant community together to work collaboratively to find solutions and a better path forward for Autistic individuals, their families and their caregivers.”

“A National Autism Strategy will facilitate the development and implementation of the large collaborations needed to advance our understanding of autism,” said Stelios Georgiades, associate professor at McMaster University and Founder and Co-Director of McMaster Autism Research Team (MacART). It will also help accelerate the translation of research evidence into improved policies and practices for all Canadians living with autism.”

Quick facts

  • Autism is the most common and fastest-growing neurological disorder in Canada. An estimated 1 in 66 Canadians aged 5-17 are diagnosed with autism, equivalent to approximately 500,000 Canadians of all ages.
  • The National Autism Strategy will have to respond to the needs of vulnerable populations, such as seniors, military families and LGBTQ+ people who are on the autism spectrum, as well as the needs of northern & rural Canadians. An Indigenous approach should be co-developed with Indigenous partners.
  • Autism is not solely a provincial responsibility or a federal responsibility. It is a Canadian responsibility. The federal government can lead by facilitating pan-Canadian cooperation and coordination, by convening a multi-ministry federal provincial territorial meeting and creating a platform to share best practices, and taking direct immediate action.
  • We are asking for a commitment to making fast, integrated progress on Autism within the federal government. This means assigning a lead minister, assembling cross-government tables, and mandating all relevant Ministers to collaborate. It also means leading broad consultation with the Autistic community on the design and implementation of a National Autism Strategy.

*Autism Alliance of Canada was formerly known as the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Alliance (CASDA). For more information regarding our name change, click here.