How to Get Involved in Developing a National Autism Strategy in 2021

This year has been an eventful one at CASDA.

Foremost, we saw movement towards a National Autism Strategy by the government. And, as a constructive policy generator, we are also starting to identify emerging gaps and make some real impacts in the Canadian autism sector collaboratively with our partners.

Here, I wanted to provide an update about Canada’s progress towards a National Autism Strategy to give you a sense of how to engage in the coming six months. It is said that democracy is only as good as those that participate, so similarly, the scope and sustainability of a National Autism Strategy will be determined by our collective efforts. 

The Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (CAHS) has been mandated to establish a structured process aimed at informing the government’s national policy on autism. I would ask that you participate in whatever way you can once these processes begin. 

As previously described in last month’s newsletter , a clear structure and timeline has been set for the CAHS autism policy process:

  • An oversight panel has been assembled and tasked with asking questions and looking for answers to those questions through consultations and research.
  • Three working groups will be supporting this work. Each group will prepare reports for the oversight committee to synthesize into a final report.
  • This consultation process is scheduled to be completed for January 2022.

Starting early next year, the first series of consultations will occur. Simultaneously, the working groups will carry out research, which will inform the consultations. In the Spring, the first round will be synthesized and returned for your feedback. Then, a second round of consultations will occur during the Summer. After that, the working groups will write their reports and submit it to the oversight panel. The oversight panel will have their final report ready by January 2022.

In terms of how to engage, there are a few avenues:

1) In the coming months, there will be separate meetings with organizations in each province and territory, at the national level, and also for the public. 

2) A polling firm will set up a broad survey for the general public, service providers, parents, autistic people. 

3) Focus groups will be set up online for asynchronous discussions akin to discussion/bulletin boards alongside general feedback on a website that is being developed. 

4) Lastly, stakeholders will be invited to help the working groups do a deep dive into specific issues. There will be transparency in who is invited to these consultations.

At this time, if you would like to send content information for the consultation process, to ensure the entire process receives the same information, please reach out to the whole panel by emailing and not individual members of the committee. That way, the entire committee receives your submission and suggestions. 

At CASDA, we will continue to provide resources to equip your participation through many different mediums. In the coming months, look out for our series of podcasts outlining the policy compendium recommendations in a more accessible way. As well, stay tuned for other tools and upcoming town hall meetings. 

Stay well and best wishes as we journey together into 2021 and step closer to a National Autism Strategy.


Jonathan Lai

Director of Operations and Strategy

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