Update on Bill S-253: A National Framework for FASD

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In October 2022, the Honourable Senator Mohamed-Iqbal Ravalia introduced Bill S-253 in the Senate of Canada, seconded by the Honourable Pat Duncan. This Bill outlines the development of a national framework designed to support Canadians with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), their families, and their caregivers.

The Bill is currently in its second reading in the Senate. Many senators have taken the opportunity to speak about the bill and its importance. Here’s a glimpse of what has been said about Bill S-253 in the Senate of Canada.

A national framework to address FASD is long overdue

“A national framework to address FASD is long overdue. Given the complexity of this issue and the breadth of its effects, the existing patchwork of provincial and territorial approaches is simply not enough, as we’ve seen.

This bill would mean one step toward increased, equitable access to diagnostic assessment and support services across Canada so that all Canadians with the disorder can achieve their full potential no matter where they live in this country. It would be one step closer to having a trained workforce that is FASD-informed across health, social, justice and education systems. It would be one step to support economic and social inclusion, and help to reduce the stigma associated with this vulnerable population.”

Hon. Ravalia on November 1, 2022
Independent Senator from Newfoundland and Labrador and Champion of Bill S-253

I stand in strong support of Senator Ravalia’s bill…

“Honourable senators, I rise tonight to speak to Bill S-253, An Act respecting a national framework for fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, or FASD. I stand in strong support of Senator Ravalia’s bill and am personally grateful for his initiative… My remarks today are focused primarily on four points: First, FASD is an equal opportunity problem, the consequences of which are made so much worse because of judgment and shame. Second, the current cost of inaction across the lifetime of a child born with FASD far exceeds every other intervention alternative. Third, early diagnosis and intervention are essential to reducing the lifetime costs. However, the vast majority of current evidence-based approaches and tools are unavailable to most families. Fourth, remote delivery options hold important promise and the opportunity for Canada to lead globally as we work to address the needs of children, families, educators and so many others affected by FASD. They are substantial indeed.”

Hon. Colin Deacon on November 15, 2022
Independent Senator from Nova Scotia and former director of the Kids Brain Health Network

Anything that can be done, even in small measures, should be

“I support this bill brought forward by Senator Ravalia and hope that his suggestions are given full weight, and anything that can be done, even in small measures, should be… A functioning national database and programs to educate are needed from one end of the country to the other to indicate the serious nature of this problem. Labelling on bottles, as Senator Brazeau has suggested, is long overdue. And every bar in Canada might have a sign saying, “Alcohol consumption can be extremely detrimental to your unborn child, and excess drinking will cause fetal alcohol syndrome.””

Hon. David Richards on November 22, 2022
Senator from New Brunswick

…it is fundamentally about Canadians’ human rights

“We have been aware of the serious and lifetime consequences of prenatal alcohol exposure for over 40 years, and yet Canada continues to lack a comprehensive, coordinated national framework.

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, or FASD, is not only a health issue; it is fundamentally about Canadians’ human rights. As things stand now, countless Canadians may be needlessly struggling from a lack of formal diagnosis and support. As with many issues I have spoken to in this chamber, FASD is often found among vulnerable segments of the population. I believe one of the most heartbreaking aspects of prenatal alcohol exposure is that it is ultimately preventable.

Honourable colleagues, I will be brief, as I believe this bill to be simple, necessary and long overdue.”

Hon. Salma Ataullahjan on March 22, 2023
Conservative Senator from Ontario and critic of Bill S-253

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