Mr. Speaker, first and foremost, I want to thank my hon. colleague and good friend, not just for his question but for all the tireless, hard work that he does on behalf of all those affected by autism. I have a lot of respect for my colleague because of his advocacy for the most vulnerable in our communities.
Our government recognizes the complex challenges facing families affected by autism spectrum disorder, also known as ASD. This is why, federally, we are supporting a range of initiatives that are needed to make a difference for families, and that will increase inclusion and participation in society by Canadians with disabilities or functional limitations.
Several federal departments and agencies are advancing work on ASD, including the health portfolio, Employment and Social Development Canada, as well as other federally funded organizations that are focused on brain health and neurodevelopmental disorders.
The Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities has recently conducted Canada's largest ever national consultation on disability and accessibility issues in preparation to introduce federal accessibility legislation. Over 6,000 Canadians participated in this consultation, which ran from coast to coast to coast. The minister just released a report on what was learned from the rich input received. This legislation will ensure greater accessibility and opportunities for Canadians with both visible and invisible disabilities, including Canadians with autism, in their communities and workplaces.
Through this process, our government is embarking on a new era of leadership, collaboration, and co-operation in improving accessibility and increasing the social, economic, and civic participation of the 14% of Canadians with disabilities, including those with autism spectrum disorder.
As a registered nurse, I am fully aware of the costs of taking care of an individual with a severe disability. That is why our government continues to provide the child disability benefit, an annual amount of $2,730 per child eligible for the disability tax credit. This is in addition to the $2,300 average increase Canadian families now receive from the recently revamped Canada child benefit. Through Employment and Social Development Canada, we have also made a long-term investment of $7.5 billion for early learning and child care, for which families with ASD are eligible.
We have also heard from individuals with autism spectrum disorder and their families that supportive housing and employment are key issues of concern. That is why budget 2017 includes a commitment to invest $5 billion over 11 years in a new national housing fund that will prioritize support for vulnerable Canadians, including persons with mental health challenges and intellectual and physical disabilities.
In the area of employment, we know that people with disabilities, including those with autism spectrum disorder, face unique challenges in preparing for and entering the labour market. That is why we are investing $40 million through the opportunities fund for persons with disabilities, administered through Employment and Social Development Canada, to support their transition to the workforce.
These are examples of the practical and very tangible measures that we have in place to help families living with autism. Within the health portfolio, our government is also making investments in research and improving national data as foundational areas to support autism spectrum disorder. The Public Health Agency of Canada, working with provinces and territories, has established the national autism spectrum surveillance system, which is collecting and tracking reliable data on ASD prevalence and incidence, describing the epidemiology of ASD and comparing patterns domestically and internationally.
While there are no quick solutions when it comes to the challenges posed by ASD, our government is committed to working in collaboration with the autism spectrum disorder community to ensure that our initiatives support the needs of those affected by ASD. We believe, and are confident, that by working together across sectors and jurisdictions, we will continue to make progress.