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

Press Release

From: Public Health Agency of Canada

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

October 11, 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, Adam van Koeverden, Parliamentary Secretary to the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, announced funding for a community-based project aimed at addressing the negative impacts of COVID-19.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) will receive $468,817 to address the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Autistic individuals and their caregivers, including social isolation, confusing or unclear information about COVID-19, and a lack of available mental health resources and supports due to pandemic restrictions. CAMH will provide online forums for Autistic adults and their families to offer and receive peer support through social connection in an effort to improve healthy behaviours and support their mental, physical, and social wellbeing.

Projects funded through the Autism Spectrum Disorder Strategic Fund will provide opportunities for Autistic individuals, their families and caregivers to access knowledge, resources and skills that are essential to helping Autistic individuals achieve and maintain optimal health and wellbeing.

Quotes

“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 the CAMH to help provide community-based autism resources that support the mental, physical, and social wellbeing of Autistic individuals, their families and caregivers.”

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health

“The pandemic has been a stressful and life-altering experience for many people. A number of Autistic individuals and their families have struggled with lack of access to critical services and the impact of social isolation. Community resources like the one announced today can go a long way in making a real difference in the lives of those who need them.”

Adam van Koeverden
Parliamentary Secretary

“CAMH is very grateful to the Government of Canada for funding the crucial work of supporting Autistic people and their families. Autistic people have always had higher rates of mental health issues than other groups, and this has only been exacerbated during the pandemic. This funding provides a unique opportunity to develop a number of activities co-designed and co-led by Autistic people and their families to support their mental health.”

Sarah Downey
President and CEO, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

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

Contacts

Marie-France Proulx
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health
613-957-0200

Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada
613-957-2983
media@hc-sc.gc.ca

Public Inquiries:
613-957-2991
1-866-225-0709

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