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As the diabetes burden continues to grow exponentially, Canadians demand action from governments

Ipsos poll shows that COVID-19 has only added to anxieties around diabetes for a majority of Canadians

Although the COVID-19 pandemic continues to top Canadians’ list of health concerns, the results of an Ipsos poll released today by Diabetes Canada show that diabetes is still an urgent health concern to address.

The ongoing pandemic has added to the anxieties around diabetes, with one-third of Canadians saying they are now more concerned about diabetes than they were before and six in 10 believing that having diabetes puts someone at a greater risk of contracting COVID-19.

An overwhelming majority of Canadians (86 per cent), including Black Indigenous People of Colour (BIPOC) Canadians (91 per cent), are united in their belief that governments should commit towards implementing a nation-wide diabetes strategy to reduce the burden on the citizens, as well as cover the costs of diabetes medication, devices, and supplies for those without a private or employer insurance coverage.

“These latest findings clearly support Diabetes Canada’s mission to ‘End Diabetes’, says Laura Syron, President & CEO of Diabetes Canada. “It's been nearly a decade since Canada has had a strategy for diabetes or targets to help address the persistent spike in prevalence rates. With the support of Canadians and the diabetes community, we’re urgently calling on Parliamentarians to ensure funding to implement a nation-wide strategy, Diabetes 360°, is included in Budget 2021.”

More than three-quarters of Canadians (78 per cent) believe a nation-wide diabetes strategy should be implemented within the next five years, with almost four in 10 of those supporting a nation-wide diabetes strategy saying it should be implemented within the next year.

“In order for the strategy to be implemented in the next five years, the federal government must make an immediate investment in Budget 2021,” says Kimberley Hanson, Executive Director of Federal Affairs with Diabetes Canada. “Canadians have spoken, and our government must do better to support."

The diabetes community, led by Diabetes Canada, urges the federal government to implement a nation-wide strategy this year. The strategy would aim to improve the prevention, screening, and treatment of diabetes, achieve better health for Canadians, save billions of dollars of health care costs, and strengthen our economy by creating a healthier workforce. 

Ryan Hooey, a 34-year-old father from Windsor, Ontario who lives with type 1 diabetes and is blind, explains the urgency. “If Canada had a nation-wide strategy to improve patient care and prevent the complications of diabetes, others might not have to live with challenging complications like sight loss. It’s high time we took action to improve the health and lives of Canadians affected by diabetes by funding Diabetes 3600 in Budget 2021,” says Hooey.

Diabetes Canada is urging all Canadians to advise their member of Parliament to lend their voice to this request by visiting and sending a quick email of support.

Other key findings:

  • Personal concern over developing diabetes is highest in Saskatchewan and Manitoba (60 per cent) and is significantly lower in Quebec (46 per cent) and Alberta (46 per cent) compared to all other provinces.

  • When it comes to severity, more than a quarter (27 per cent) of Atlantic Canadians rate diabetes as ‘very severe’ (Rate 7 on a 7-point severity scale) compared to 14 per cent of overall Canadians

  • 6 in 10 Canadians have some connection to diabetes, with nearly half having a family member with diabetes and 2 in 10 saying they’re at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes (11 per cent) or they’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes (8 per cent).

  • Half of Canadians ‘Strongly support’ government coverage of costs of diabetes medication, devices and supplies for those without a private or employer insurance coverage. Overall, over 8 in 10 support this considering the high expenses in the absence of private/employer insurance coverage. Canadians express a similar agreement when asked about the government continuing to cover the cost of health-protecting devices for those living with diabetes even after they reach adulthood – while over 8 in 10 agree, almost half express strong affirmation.

  • Despite this strong sense of urgency about diabetes, there remains much misunderstanding about the disease. Most Canadians are unaware of or grossly underestimate that diabetes is diagnosed more than 225,000 times per year in Canada (only 7 per cent knew this), causes more than 20 deaths per day (only 19 per cent per cent knew), causes 40 per cent of heart attacks (only 7 per cent per of respondents guessed this or more).

  • Few are aware that Canadians aged 20 years old today have a 50 per cent chance of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in their lifetime. There is also little awareness of the cost of diabetes – both in terms of lives lost and the cost to the health care system in Canada. Only 4 per cent of respondents knew it costs our health care systems $30 billion per year.

“This year we’re celebrating 100 years since the discovery of insulin changed the face of diabetes management for the whole world,” says Syron. “However, diabetes rates continue to soar with an overwhelming impact on individuals and our health-care system, and insulin is not enough. We can’t wait another 100 years to End Diabetes and that is why Canadians are joining in demanding governments prioritize enhancing support for this often-debilitating disease.

Category Tags: Advocacy & Policy;

Region: National

About Diabetes Canada

Diabetes Canada is the registered national charitable organization that is making the invisible epidemic of diabetes visible and urgent. Diabetes Canada partners with Canadians to End Diabetes through:

  • Resources for health-care professionals on best practices to care for people with diabetes;
  • Advocacy to governments, schools and workplaces; and
  • Funding world-leading Canadian research to improve treatments and find a cure.

Contact us

For more information or to book an interview

Sherry Calder, Senior Manager, Marketing & Communications