Our History

The Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Alliance (CASDA) was formed July 2007 shortly after the Senate Committee Report “Pay Now or Pay Later: Autism Families in Crisis”. During this time the federal government sent a clear message to the autism community: We need to work together with a unified voice. The autism community responded by forming CASDA. The founding members of CASDA all believed that there was more our Federal Government could do for autism and together we could make change happen. One thing we all agreed on was that this country needed a National Autism Strategy.

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Our Alliance has grown in number and impact since 2007. CASDA’s organizational member agencies account for more than $400 million in revenue, and in turn, contributions to their communities. (This is based on revenue data from 68% of our member organizations which yielded a revenue of $407,771,572 as of May 2020).

The National Autism Strategy, which is aimed at improving outcomes for autistic Canadians and their families, will enhance these contributions to Canada’s economic and social strength. We always welcome new members as we support the government in implementing the National Autism Strategy.

CASDA is part of a National Partnership with CACL (Canadian Association for Community Living), Ready Willing and Able and their members. Active in 20 communities across the country, RWA is designed to increase the labour force participation of people with an intellectual disability or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Have a question about CASDA’s stance on an issue? Click here to view all the FAQs that CASDA has published over the years.

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What CASDA wants to see in a National Autism Strategy?

The Goal: An Impactful, Measurable, Sustainable National Autism Strategy!

With the development of a National Autism Strategy recently being tasked to Minister of Health, Minister Patty Hajdu and Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Minister Carla Qualtrough, CASDA is ready to work with government and mobilize experts from across the country to develop a robust NAS that ensures that all autistic Canadians have full and equal access to the resources they require to achieve their full potential. This NAS should have a clear and meaningful vision considering the whole lifespan and spectrum of needs of Canadians on the Autism Spectrum, with special considerations for vulnerable autistic Canadians.

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The government’s commitment to a NAS has given the autism community hope, but the lack of detail to date also raised some concern that the strategy might not be robust or could be just an enhancement of existing programs and approaches. CASDA and the whole autism community are ready to work with government to find innovative, transformation approaches to ensure the NAS is more than a collection of new or slightly enhanced program funding.

Why Do We Need a National Autism Strategy?

Autism is the most common and fastest-growing neurodevelopmental condition in Canada, affecting 1 in 66 Canadians aged 5-17 and an estimated 500,000 people and their families nationwide. Without appropriate supports that fit their needs, autistic individuals and their families see drastically worse health, education, employment and quality of life outcomes. These effects ripple throughout their communities. We need to do better. 

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We need a strategy that drives real action to make sure all autistic Canadians and their families have full and equitable access to the resources they need across a lifespan where and when they need them. A National Autism Strategy should identify the full range of needs of the community, across Canada. We need a wide range of policymakers and community stakeholders working together to get positive results.

Why Now?

The autism community cannot afford to wait any longer. Families are being pushed to the breaking point. Canadians on the Spectrum have a right to equal access to health care and education that meets their needs and to participate fully in society. In April 2019 (World Autism Awareness Month) we launched a revitalized campaign for a National ASD Strategy with a Blueprint for change. The Blueprint outlines areas for federal focus and is the foundation for the Roadmap to a National Autism Strategy of which further delineates a potential timeline for the government to work together with the autism community in developing a Strategy.

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Leading up to the federal elections in fall 2019, CASDA called upon all federal parties to commit to a National ASD Strategy that delivers on the vision of this Blueprint. Since then, Prime Minister Trudeau announced on December 9th, 2019 his support of the development and implementation of a National Autism Strategy.