Canada Commits to Federal Framework for Autism Spectrum Disorder
Today, April 3, 2023, marks World Autism Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness and promoting acceptance of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) worldwide. This day was first observed in 2008, after the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution on November 1, 2007, which was later adopted on December 18, 2007. The proposal for this resolution was put forth by Moza bint Nasser Al-Missned, who served as the United Nations Representative from Qatar at the time. All member states of the United Nations-supported the proposal. The aim of this day is to promote understanding, acceptance, and inclusion of individuals with autism, as well as to raise awareness about the challenges they face.
The Canadian government has been actively supporting individuals with autism and their families by implementing various measures. Just last week, on March 30, 2023, Bill S-203, the Federal Framework on Autism Spectrum Disorder Act, received Royal Assent. This landmark legislation outlines a commitment to developing a federal framework designed to support autistic Canadians, their families, and caregivers.
The Federal Framework on Autism Spectrum Disorder Act requires the Minister of Health to develop a comprehensive federal framework on autism spectrum disorder. This framework must identify measures to provide timely and equitable access to screening and diagnosis for ASD, financial support for autistic individuals and their families, support for caregivers, and a national research network to promote research and improve data collection on ASD.
The federal framework will also establish national campaigns to enhance public knowledge, understanding, and acceptance of ASD, while accounting for intersectionality to foster inclusivity. Additionally, it will provide sustained, accessible, and culturally relevant resources, available online and elsewhere, on the best available evidence-based information to support autistic individuals, their families, and caregivers, including information on effective treatments and ineffective or harmful treatments.
The framework will also include mechanisms to ensure accountability in the use of federal funds for autistic individuals and their families. The Federal Framework on Autism Spectrum Disorder Act demonstrates the Canadian government’s commitment to ensuring that individuals with ASD receive the support they need to thrive.
World Autism Day serves as a reminder that individuals with ASD deserve the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. Governments around the world should be committed to developing a comprehensive federal framework for autism spectrum disorder and moving in the direction of supporting autistic individuals and their families. As a society, we are responsible for promoting acceptance, understanding, and inclusion of individuals with ASD to ensure that they can lead fulfilling lives.