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Federal government reveals plan to improve access to diabetes care

The federal government tabled a new and long-awaited plan in the House of Commons to improve access to diabetes treatment and prevention in Canada.
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Liberal MP Sonia Sidhu rises in the House of Commons on Wednesday, June 1, 2022 in Ottawa. The federal government is expected to table a plan to improve access to diabetes treatment and prevention in Canada. Sidhu called for the new framework as part of a private member's bill that received royal assent in 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA — Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos and the federal government have tabled a new and long-awaited plan in the House of Commons to improve access to diabetes treatment and prevention in Canada.

Liberal MP Sonia Sidhu called for the framework as part of a private member's bill that became law in 2021.

At the time, Diabetes Canada was clamouring for some kind of national vision to address the growing disease epidemic.

Diabetes prevents the natural production or use of insulin in the body, which prevents the regulation of glucose in the blood. It is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputation.

According to the private member's bill, the framework must outline the training, education and guidance health workers need to promote the treatment and prevention of diabetes, including new clinical practice guidelines.

The act also says the government will ensure the Canada Revenue Agency administers the disability tax credit fairly and in a way that helps as many people with diabetes as possible.

Advocates for diabetes patients have lamented the lack of federal vision on the disease for years.

A federal strategy was established in 1999 but then absorbed into a larger strategy to address chronic diseases in 2005.

"The longer we delay coordinated efforts with targeted outcomes, the more diabetes prevalence will increase and the more Canadians will experience its tragic complications,” Dr. Jan Hux, then president of Diabetes Canada, said in a statement in 2019.

Since then, the prevalence of diabetes and prediabetes in Canada has grown 6.5 per cent, according to statistics released by Diabetes Canada, and the annual cost of treating the disease has grown to $30 billion.

There were 5.7 million people with diagnosed diabetes as of March 2022 and another five million experiencing prediabetes — a condition that, if left unmanaged, can develop into Type 2 diabetes.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 5, 2022.

Laura Osman, The Canadian Press