Federal government appoints new autism spectrum disorder working group

July 8, 2015

The Hon. Minister of Health Rona Ambrose announced the members of a new working group focusing on autism spectrum disorder on July 8. Four NeuroDevNet researchers, including principal investigators Drs. Stephen Scherer, Lonnie Zwaigenbaum, and Jonathan Weiss are among the appointees.

The working group, which met for the first time in Edmonton, will consult stakeholders to develop a plan for a Canadian Autism Partnership. Consultations are to address topics that are key elements of NeuroDevNet's mission, including information sharing and research, early detection, diagnosis and treatment, and ways to support Canadian families affected by ASD.

The ASD Working Group brings together a broad range of stakeholders across Canada, including key autism organizations that are on the front line in providing services and support to those living with autism and their families; health professionals dedicated to care and treatment; and researchers whose discoveries are answering complex questions about ASD. The group has an 18-month mandate to identify ways to improve care for Canadian families affected by ASD.

"Our Government is committed to supporting partnerships that will help Canadians with autism and their families," said Minister Ambrose. "As Minister of Health I am pleased to lead the work of the Autism Spectrum Disorder Working Group alongside Cynthia Carroll, Chair of the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Alliance. The experience and expertise of the working group members and their dedication to making a difference for Canadians and their families, will lead us to real solutions‎."

McMaster University autism researcher Dr. Stelios Georgiades, who is affiliated with the Network, and Dr. Margaret Clarke, senior vice president of the Sinneave Family Foundation, which collaborates closely with the NeuroDevNet, are both among the 11 members.

"The Autism Spectrum Disorder Working Group brings together experts from a variety of disciplines to help identify priorities for action on ASD," said Ms. Carroll. "Canadians can expect the Working Group to consult broadly and engage stakeholders, including those affected by ASD, and to report back on how Canadians of all ages living with ASD can be supported to reach their full potential‎."

CTV News Edmonton covered the inaugural meeting of the Working Group, interviewing participants including Dr. Stephen Scherer. The full roster of members appears below.

  • Cynthia Carroll, Chair of the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Alliance and Executive Director of Autism Nova Scotia
  • Dr. Margaret Clarke, Senior Vice-President, Sinneave Family Foundation
  • Jill Farber, Executive Director, Autism Speaks Canada
  • Dr. Stelios Georgiades, ASD Researcher, McMaster University
  • Warren Greenstone, CEO, Miriam Foundation
  • Laurie Mawlam, Executive Director, Autism Canada
  • Dr. Stephen Scherer, Director, Centre for Applied Genomics, Hospital for Sick Kids
  • Dr. Robert Strang, Chief Public Health Officer, Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness
  • Dr. Jonathan Weiss, Research Chair, Autism Spectrum Disorder Treatment and Care, York University
  • Margaret Whelan, Member, CASDA
  • Dr. Lonnie Zwaigenbaum, Co-Director, Autism Research Centre, Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital