Working Together to Advance a National Autism Strategy

Key agencies representing Canadian regions from coast-to-coast-to-coast are playing a pivotal role in advancing a National Autism Strategy (NAS). Autism Alliance of Canada is proud to play a role, and we continue to focus on engaging our members across the country.

As we approach the three-year mark of the Canadian government’s commitment to create a National Autism Strategy (NAS), Autism Alliance of Canada remains dedicated to both supporting the federal government’s efforts and holding them accountable for their commitment towards the development and implementation of a NAS. In December 2019, the Prime Minister announced that a NAS has been added to the mandate letters of the Ministers of Health and of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion.

Following this, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) was mandated to lead the creation of a NAS.

The Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (CAHS) was selected by PHAC to lead an assessment to inform the creation of a NAS. Following an engagement process with the community, CAHS has released a scientific report on autism in Canada: “Autism in Canada: Considerations for future public policy development.”

On November 15-16, 2022, the Public Health Agency of Canada organized a National Autism Conference to bring together the views of Autistic Canadians, their families and caregivers, advocates, provinces, territories and Indigenous Peoples.

At Autism Alliance of Canada, we continue to support all efforts made toward the creation of a NAS. We look forward to the continued leadership of the federal government. We want to ensure that the Strategy is actionable, measurable, and most importantly, sustainable across the provinces and territories. 

How is Autism Alliance of Canada taking action?

  1. In the last federal election, Autism Alliance of Canada submitted ministerial transition briefing notes to both key ministries responsible for a NAS, asking for implementation of a NAS by 2023 and recommending next steps. We also wrote to each major party to request that a NAS be in their platform. This letter, as well as the election toolkit, was shared with members of Autism Alliance of Canada to adopt for their own advocacy. As outlined in our Roadmap to a National Autism Strategy, recommendations include a governance structure to guide, and ultimately, oversee the implementation of the NAS.

  2. We have called for a clear and transparent government response to CAHS Autism Assessment Report. We ask that the government completes the creation of a NAS by 2023 and begins implementation that same year. We are also committed to providing guidance on potential next steps following the creation of a NAS.

  3. The 9th Annual Canadian Autism Leadership Summit (CALS2023), which will take place in April 2023, we will also provide a crucial platform for our members and community stakeholders to identify shared priorities. As a convener, it is Autism Alliance of Canada’s role to bring forward feedback from our community to the federal government. We provide a vehicle to promote networking, information-sharing and priority debates among Canada’s autism leaders. By doing so, we aim to facilitate the successful implementation and broad community acceptance of a NAS.

  4. In 2020 and 2021, in partnership with Kids Brain Health Network, Policy Development Practicum Fellows collaborated closely with the community to foster dialogue and synthesize actionable policy recommendations to address issues in the outlined areas of focus and themes. Over the two years, the Policy Development Practicum Fellows developed two Policy Compendia. These resources can be used by anyone to advocate for autism policy and to stay informed about concrete ways to guide the development of an impactful and robust NAS.
  • Policy Compendium (2020) outlines 5 key areas of focus: Research and Governance, Affordability and Access, Employment, Housing, and Information.
  • Policy Compendium (2021) is organized under three themes: social inclusion; diagnosis, supports, and services; and economic inclusion.

In addition to these direct channels of advocacy, Autism Alliance of Canada’s team and members are advancing various initiatives that continue to move autism and disability policy forward in Canada. To learn about ongoing projects and initiatives at Autism Alliance of Canada and to learn how you can get involved, become a member.

How can I take part in conversations around a National Autism Strategy?

Autism Alliance of Canada’s membership is open to both individuals and organizations, where vast and diverse experience, expertise and voices come together for the shared and common purpose to advocate and amplify the need for a National Autism Strategy.

As a member of Autism Alliance of Canada, you are part of a coalition of organizations and individuals that has united to provide a strong collective voice – a collective voice that allows for and celebrates broader perspectives. Autism Alliance of Canada gains valuable insight by facilitating processes that solicit a vast range of different views, gathering the most important issues, coalescing around a perspective, and then putting forward these organized insights to the federal government.