Why was a national autism strategy not in this year’s budget?

Elizabeth May

Madam Speaker, it is my first opportunity to join today’s debate on a supply day motion in the name of the hon. member for Edmonton—Wetaskiwin. I would like to confirm that I will be voting for his motion, as I would hope the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health would do.

I have enjoyed working with the parliamentary secretary since he has taken his position. He is enormously accessible and helpful on a number of issues. However, I am baffled. I simply do not understand why a national autism strategy was not in this year’s budget. I know that is not in his wheelhouse; that is the Minister of Finance’s. However, as someone who approaches this issue and wants to see the new Liberal government do as well as possible, I have to say that this is something that is widely supported by Canadians from coast to coast to coast. Families dealing with family members with autism spectrum disorder need the help. Although the hon. parliamentary secretary is right that there is money in there for home care and there is a bit more money for disabled children, it does not respond to the specific needs of the autism community.

This is more of a comment than a question, but I have to say that I am baffled. Perhaps the hon. parliamentary secretary could cast some light on when the government will provide a national autism strategy.


Joël Lightbound  – Louis-Hébert, QC

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for her intervention.

I enjoy working with her, too, and I think we are ready to work with all members of the House on this issue to see how we can better serve Canadians living with autism spectrum disorder.

That is exactly what we are doing when we support projects like the Sinneave Family Foundation or Autism Speaks Canada, for example. That is also what we are doing through investments in the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to support research.

Money and resources have been allocated, and investments are being made to support families, to invest in research, and to try to find a cure. Right now we need to look at every available opportunity to work effectively within our our respective jurisdictions with various stakeholders on autism spectrum disorder.