Influencing public policy at the national level
Autism Canada is passionate about effecting real change for those living with autism and their families. It is for this reason; we spearheaded the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Alliance (CASDA) in 2007. Following the release of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology report entitled, Pay Now or Pay Later, there was a real need to ensure the momentum created would continue. What better way, than to create a neutral table, for the autism sector to come together with a unified message. The single focus would be to work with the federal government and its departments to develop a plan which we call the a National ASD Strategy.
Today, CASDA is has a vital working relationship with the Public Health Agency of Canada, has a representative from each of the 4 main national political parties as Ambassador Members and is actively partnering with the national Autism Chair, Dr. Jonathan Weiss. CASDA, with financial support from the Public Health Agency of Canada, conducted the first ever National Needs Assessment Survey, canvassing over 5,600 Canadians affected by ASD in some capacity to get their perspectives on the strengths and weaknesses of our current state of supports across the country and to develop a set of recommendations and action steps which are based on hard data.
It was the National Needs Assessment Survey report that supported the Canadian Autism Partnership (CAP) Proposal. On April 21, 2015 the federal budget announcement included a 2 million dollar investment to create a stakeholder working group, led by the Minister of Health. The task of this group was to develop a plan for the “Canadian Autism Partnership” that would address the key issues facing Canadians living with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families. CASDA is taking the lead on this project.
Laurie Mawlam, Executive Director of Autism Canada and Cynthia Carroll, Executive Director of Autism Nova Scotia, are on the working group. Cynthia Carroll Co-Chairs the working group with the Federal Minister of Health. The announcement was made on July 8th 2015 in Edmonton. Since then, the Minister of Health has signed off on the CAP proposal which gives CASDA the green light to move forward regardless of the election results on October 19, 2015.