Mr. Speaker, in Canada right now, one in 68 children are diagnosed with autism. More than 500,000 Canadians are living with autism today, and it is the fastest growing and diagnosed neurological disorder in our country.
About half of those with autism are of average or above average intelligence, yet very few of them actually graduate from high school and go on to post-secondary institutions. These numbers are concerning to me, because they represent a tragic loss in our society. We have these individuals who have immense potential and abilities, which are not being developed, because families lack the resources they require.
To better advocate for individuals and families living with autism, the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance brought together more than 90 autism organizations, researchers, and public policy champions, and consulted with more than 5,000 people across the country, including self-advocates, remote and rural communities, indigenous people, researchers, civil society organizations, and Canadians from every region of Canada in order to lay the foundation for a national Canadian autism partnership. Together, under the autism partnership, these groups and individuals would work together to advance research, and make sure families had the resources needed instead of duplicating their efforts.
How much would this cost? In November 2016, the Autism Partnership Project proposed it would need $19 million over the course of five years, which is only $3.8 million per year. Instead of granting this small amount of money, the current government actually made a decision to kill the partnership altogether.
The Liberals will try to tell us they spent money on research, but they are missing the point altogether. Research is one small piece of what the autism partnership would have accomplished had it been able to go forward. The autism community wanted a coordinated national strategy to pull together research, treatment, and best practices all in one. To use a metaphor, it is kind of like entire families going to a dealership wanting to buy a car, but the Liberals are actually just willing to sell them a tire.
Families struggle to know how to best support their loves ones, because there just are not enough resources available to them, and there is not enough research to backup those that are developed. However, the Liberals made a choice that reveals they really do not believe these families are, in fact, worth the investment. I find this very sad.
Just this week, the government took another step further for those who live at a disadvantage, and cancelled the tax credit for those who have diabetes.
The government claims to stand for the middle class, and for those who are working hard to join it. This is the Liberal tag line. The Liberals like to use that in this place day in and day out. However, in essence, or in happenstance, they actually take direct, and destructive action toward the most vulnerable among us in this country. I do not believe that is right. In fact, I believe it is altogether mean.
My question is simple. Why is it the current Liberal government can provide $400 million to Bombardier to subsidize a plane that will be owned by European billionaires, and assembled by people in the U.S., therefore putting jobs there, but it cannot find a mere $19 million, or $3.8 million per year, in order to create a Canadian autism partnership, and benefit the most vulnerable here in Canada?