Approximately 130,000 Ontarians are living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) at a national cost-estimate of between $1.8 and $6.2 billion annually in direct and indirect costs. This issue represents a significant public health challenge, with recent data showing it spanning across geographic communities and socio-economic groups.
There has been increasing evidence that the right information, supports and services provided in a timely manner can significantly reduce the stress that this condition has on individuals, families and caregivers. Given this potential, the previous provincial government undertook a series of 16 roundtables with service providers, advocates, families, caregivers and individuals affected by FASD across five Ontario regions, as well as eight roundtables with First Nations, Métis, Inuit and Indigenous peoples living in urban communities, and one dedicated roundtable for those with lived experience. These consultations ultimately informed a $26-million commitment (in the 2017-2018 provincial budget) to be distributed over four years to support a range of initiatives.
To further inform these efforts as well as any changes or new initiatives pursued by the new provincial government, it is timely to consider the evidence and stakeholder insights about what approaches are effective for supporting families and caregivers of those with FASD, and any critical components that should be integrated into these models to tailor them to the Ontario health and social systems.