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).
CASDA is proud to play a role, and we continue to focus on engaging our members across the country.

As we approach the two year mark of the Canadian government’s commitment to create a National Autism Strategy (NAS), the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Alliance (CASDA) 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 will submit a scientific report on autism in Canada. This report on autism is scheduled to be released in Winter 2022.

At CASDA, 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 CASDA taking action?

  1. In the likely event of a federal election, CASDA has already 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 are also writing to each major party to request that a NAS be in their platform. This letter, as well as the election toolkit, will be shared with you to append and/or adopt for your own advocacy. We aim to enable you to be a part of a collective voice with united priorities during this time. 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 are calling for a clear and transparent government response to the incoming report on autism by CAHS. We are asking that the government completes the creation of a NAS by 2023 and begins implementation that same year. We will also provide guidance on potential next steps following the creation of a NAS.

  3. The 7th Annual Canadian Autism Leadership Summit (CALS), which will take place on October 6-7. 2021, will also provide a crucial platform for our members and community stakeholders to identify shared priorities. As a convener, it is CASDA’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 leaders in the autism sector. By doing so, we aim to facilitate the successful implementation and broad community acceptance of a NAS.

In addition to these direct channels of advocacy, CASDA’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 CASDA and to learn how you can get involved, click here.

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

CASDA 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 CASDA, 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. CASDA 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.

There are a variety of ways by which members of CASDA can get involved:

  1. Stay connected and receive regular updates through CASDA’s bi-monthly newsletter, the “National Autism Newsletter.” The National Autism Newsletter is a great resource for members to stay informed about the development of a National Autism Strategy, to learn about member initiatives across the country, and to take part in projects facilitated by CASDA. If you like the National Autism Newsletter, you can share it with your network or audience. You can also get in touch with CASDA’s staff to participate in any ongoing projects.

  2. Participate in policy working groups and focus groups. Throughout the year, CASDA, in collaboration with partners and stakeholders, organizes discussion groups, inviting participants across the country to share their perspectives on policy gaps or issues that impact them. All are welcome. These groups are announced on CASDA’s newsletterwebsite, and social media (FacebookTwitterLinkedIn).

  3. Take part in the Canadian Autism Leadership Summit (CALS). CALS is a yearly gathering for Autistic self-advocates, service providers, policymakers, government and thought leaders to share ideas, experiences, and discuss gaps in policy that impact Autistic Canadians and their families across the country. CASDA members can present at CALS, register as an attendee (at a discounted rate), or join the Summit Planning Committee. As mentioned above, at CALS2021, we will be engaging members to identify priorities that unite us and bring them forth to the government in the coming year.

  4. Become a board member

  5. Advocate with a strong, collaborative, collective voice. 

    • Whether you wish to deepen your knowledge of current issues faced by Autistic Canadians or want to review policy recommendations, you can access and share content from the Policy Compendium. All are welcome to browse CASDA’s website, provide feedback along the way, and use any content that speaks to them.
    • If you would like to learn more about the recent happenings at CASDA, our podcast series, “Across the Desk” is a great place to get started.
    • Our toolkit for the upcoming elections will be an accessible resource for individuals and organizations with step-by-step guidelines to advocate for a National Autism Strategy. This toolkit will assemble ideas on how to engage with local candidates, and will contain key messages to share with your networks.
  1. Collaborate with us! If you have a project or idea in mind and would like to collaborate with CASDA, you can email CASDA staff directly at

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