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On April 2, 2021, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, issued the following statement to mark World Autism Day.

Today is World Autism Awareness Day – a day to come together to raise awareness about autism, a condition that many Canadians live with. Autism affects how the brain functions, and those on the Autism spectrum have unique strengths and differences in how they communicate, interact with others, and see the world.

On World Autism Awareness Day, we recognize those on the autism spectrum, their families, caregivers, and communities. This year has been exceptionally difficult for many, but particularly so for those who have been managing childcare and home schooling without regular supports during the pandemic. To better support individuals on the autism spectrum and their families, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has invested $10.9 million to create the Autism and Intellectual Disabilities Knowledge Exchange (AIDE Canada) Network.

Through AIDE Canada, there are resources available for parents and caregivers of children and youth on the autism spectrum. For example, AIDE Canada provides online access to credible and evidence informed resources for the autism and intellectual disability community. This includes an inventory of services, local programming across the country, and a lending library that is free and open to everyone in Canada.

We also established the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Strategic Fund, to support positive health outcomes for those on the autism spectrum. This fund supports innovative community-based projects, which will provide opportunities for Canadians on the autism spectrum, their families and caregivers to gain knowledge, skills and access to resources. Eligible organizations are able to submit funding proposals for new projects until April 16, 2021.

Addressing the complex and diverse needs of people on the autism spectrum requires a coordinated effort with all levels of government and service providers. Our work is led by the experiences of autistic Canadians, families, stakeholders, provinces and territories toward the creation of a national autism strategy. On behalf of PHAC, the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences is leading a broad and inclusive public consultation that will inform the Strategy. We want to hear from you, to ensure that all voices and interests are included, especially those with lived experience, their families and caregivers. To get involved in the consultations, visit this website to learn more.

With the right information and support, individuals on the autism spectrum, their families and caregivers can thrive. On World Autism Awareness Day, I encourage everyone to learn more about autism and how we can support the diverse needs.

The Honourable Patty Hajdu, P.C., M.P.

Minister of Health