Mr. Speaker, our government recognizes the challenges that Canadians with autism spectrum disorder are facing. We know that their families and caregivers have to overcome health-related, social, and financial challenges.
The federal government's investments will help advance research, encourage collaboration with the provinces and territories to improve the data, and support the necessary professional training to improve the quality of life for the families.
Thanks to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, we are supporting researchers who are advancing scientific knowledge in order to develop new diagnostic tools and new treatments. For example, Canadian scientists are at the forefront of genomic techniques, an area where discoveries advance our knowledge and understanding of this disorder much more quickly.
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research and their partners fund a research chair in autism spectrum disorders at York University to study mental health in the context of autism. Since this chair was created, Dr. Jonathan Weiss and his team have produced several publications informing doctors and parents of the best approaches to addressing mental health problems in young ASD patients. Dr. Weiss also started a blog geared to caregivers and parents in order to share with them the findings of new studies in plainer language.
It is also essential to have accurate data about the rate of autism spectrum disorder in Canada. The Public Health Agency of Canada is working with the provinces and territories to establish a national ASD surveillance system in order to determine how many Canadians are living with autism and how many new cases are being diagnosed. This system will improve the information and evidence base and thus help organizations, health care professionals, and families to address the health, social, and other impacts of ASD.
Employment and Social Development Canada invests $40 million a year in community support and job training through the opportunities fund for persons with disabilities. Additional investments in the ready, willing, and able initiative of the Canadian Association for Community Living and in the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance help people with ASD to integrate into the workforce.
Once fully implemented, this initiative will support up to 1,200 new jobs for persons with developmental disabilities, including ASD. We invested an additional $11.4 million to support the Sinneave Family Foundation's CommunityWorks program, which helps people get the skills they need to find jobs by enhancing the programs offered by the network of vocational training centres across Canada.
Our government is consulting Canadians about the development of federal accessibility legislation, which would remove systemic barriers and ensure equal opportunities. All levels of government play an important role in supporting families affected by ASD.
Our government is committed to working with its provincial and territorial partners and with the organizations that support these families. I have a great deal of admiration for the dedication of our partners, who provide important services and seek to increase people's awareness and understanding of ASD every day.
We will continue to work with stakeholders, including the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance, to ensure that federal initiatives meet the needs of individuals with ASD.