Government of Canada Announces Funding to Address COVID-19 Challenges for Autistic Individuals

Press Release

From: Public Health Agency of Canada

New project will improve the capacity of communities to address challenges related to the pandemic faced by Autistic individuals, their families and caregivers.

October 13, 2022

COVID-19 presented significant challenges to accessing resources for Autistic people and their families. With the abrupt closures of schools, therapy centres, respite services and recreational programs, many were suddenly without support. In addition, due to the pandemic, many people in Canada, including Autistic people, continue to experience increased stress, anxiety, and depression. Disrupted routines and restricted or reduced access to programming, services and activities has had, and continues to have, a negative impact.

Today, as we recognize Autism Awareness Month and reflect on how we can better support Autistic Canadians, Ryan Turnbull, Member of Parliament for Whitby and Michael Coteau, Member of Parliament for Don Valley East on behalf of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health announced funding for a community-based project aimed at addressing the negative impacts of COVID-19.

Autism Ontario will receive $361,374 to compile and disseminate 3,300 kits (the Indigenous Resources Kits and the Culturally Inclusive Resource Kits) containing culturally-inclusive resources for marginalized and racialized Autistic individuals and their families across Ontario, Alberta, and Yukon. In addition, Autism Ontario is partnering with autism-based professionals to organize, host, and lead online, fun, interactive, and educational meetings to guide families in using the items in their Resource Kits.

Projects funded through the Autism Spectrum Disorder Strategic Fund, such as the project with Autism Ontario, will provide opportunities for Autistic individuals, their families and caregivers to access knowledge, resources and skills that are essential to achieving and maintaining optimal health and wellbeing.


“Our government is working to improve the health and well-being of people on the autism spectrum and to supporting their families and caregivers. To do so, we are committed to work with organization like Autism Ontario to help provide community-based autism resources. By investing in culturally-inclusive resources, we are helping marginalized and racialized Autistic individuals and their families get the support they need.”

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health

“Our Government is committed to helping Autistic individuals avoid any barriers when it comes to their health and wellbeing. Finding the right resources is key to getting the right support and this is why Autism Ontario’s resources will make a real difference in the lives of those who need them.”

Michael Coteau,
Member of Parliament for Don Valley East, Ontario

“As we take the opportunity to raise awareness of Autism in October, it’s important to focus on how we can support Autistic people, their families and their caregivers. Projects supported by the Government of Canada’s Autism Spectrum Disorder Strategic Fund, like the one announced today, are essential in helping Autistic individuals access the tools they need to stay healthy and well.”

Ryan Turnbull,
Member of Parliament for Whitby, Ontario

“Autism Ontario is excited to be part of the Autism Spectrum Disorder Strategic Fund and to launch the Community Care Project which provides resources kits for culturally diverse families of autistic people. Through this project, we are able to share thoughtfully curated resource kits with families and provide employment opportunities for autistic individuals. By partnering with SAAAC Autism Centre, we are delighted to create job opportunities for autistic adults who will work to fulfill the production of the 3300 resource kits. Through our community partnerships with SAAAC, Autism Calgary, Autism Yukon, Autism Society Alberta, Chiefs of Ontario, Arabic Community Centre of Toronto, Community Family Services Ontario, SOCH Mental Health and Professional Subject Matter Experts, we are able to curate resources that consider various cultural backgrounds. In addition, where possible, we have made it our priority to support autistic-led/employed small business products. We hope by adopting a multi-sectoral approach, we can continue supporting autistic individuals and families in their communities to have access to meaningful supports, information, and connections so they are equitably and seamlessly supported across their life course.”

Jessica Bethel
Director of Education and Training, Autism Ontario

Quick facts

  • Autism (also referred to as autism spectrum disorder, or ASD) is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by communication difficulties as well as social and behavioural differences. Each person on the autism spectrum is unique, and the term “spectrum” refers to the wide variation in strengths and challenges.
  • According to the 2019 Canadian Health Survey on Children and Youth (CHSCY), 1 in 50 (or 2.0%) Canadian children and youth aged 1 to 17 years were diagnosed with autism.
  • Budget 2018 allocated $20 million over five years to better support the needs of Autistic individuals, their families and caregivers. Of this overall investment, $9.1 million was allocated to establish the Autism Spectrum Disorder Strategic Fund to support community-based projects that pursue innovative program models, help reduce stigma, and integrate health, social and educational components to better serve the complex needs of Autistic Canadians and their families.
  • The Government of Canada is working collaboratively with provinces, territories, families, Indigenous organizations and other stakeholders toward the creation of a national autism strategy to better support Autistic individuals, their families and caregivers.
  • On November 15-16, 2022, the Public Health Agency of Canada is hosting a virtual national autism conference to bring together the views of Autistic Canadians, their families and caregivers, advocates, provinces, territories and Indigenous Peoples towards the development of a national autism strategy.

Associated links


Marie-France Proulx
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada

Public Inquiries:


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