National News
September 21, 2018 By Diabetes Canada
Diabetes Canada Shares Urgent Need for National Diabetes Strategy With Federal Government’s Standing Committee on Finance

On September 18, 2018, Kimberley Hanson, Director of Federal Affairs at Diabetes Canada presented to the Standing Committee on Finance as part of the organization’s ongoing advocacy to improve policy and funding to the growing diabetes epidemic faced by one in three Canadians.

Here is what she shared:

A hundred years ago, two of my great aunts died in of type 1 diabetes. Shortly thereafter, Canada’s Dr. Banting discovered insulin and saved the lives of millions, including me. Living with diabetes the past 24 years has enriched my life in many ways, but it has also taken a toll. Imagine going to work every day feeling like you have the flu? That’s the reality for many people with diabetes, and it affects our economic productivity. Just a couple of years ago, I had to leave a well-paying job because my employer would not accommodate the impact diabetes has on me. My experience is far from unique.

When I was here last, Mr. Fergus rightly observed that diabetes is a scourge. It directly affects one in three Canadians and costs our health care system $27 billion a year. It is growing in prevalence and costs at a rate of about 40 per cent per decade now, and shows no sign of slowing. It claims thousands of Canadian lives and disables tens of thousands of others each year, and affects Indigenous Canadians far more adversely. What we are doing now to address this epidemic is, quite simply, not working.

That’s why Diabetes Canada and nearly 100 partner organizations believe that Canada needs a nation-wide strategy to prevent and manage diabetes now. And it’s not just our community that thinks this is the best approach, a national strategy is a best practice widely recommended by the WHO and other leading global health organizations.  In simple terms, Canada is failing its citizens and unnecessarily jeopardizing their health the longer we wait to develop and implement a national strategy.

Diabetes 360˚is that strategy. Based on the hugely successful 90-90-90 model implemented globally to combat HIV/AIDS, Diabetes 360˚ is the product of collaboration among 120 stakeholders, including nine provincial governments, over the past year, and consists of recommendations based on evidence and aimed at improving patient outcomes. It will enhance our prevention, screening and management of diabetes to achieve better health for Canadians. Along the way, it will reduce unnecessary health care spending by billions of dollars, improve the lives of millions of Canadians and protect Canada’s productivity and competitiveness.

Diabetes 360˚ can save our health care system billions of dollars in the short- and long-terms. For example, if every Canadian who has pre-diabetes had access to the proven Diabetes Prevention Program, we could prevent more than 100,000 Canadians from receiving a diagnosis of diabetes every year. If we improve the care that those already living with diabetes receive, research shows we could prevent a minimum of 5,000 amputations and 35,000 hospitalizations each year. That would save $18 billion in the next decade.

There are also significant savings to be realized by Canadian businesses. According to Benefits Canada, employees living with diabetes cost their employers an average of $1,500 per year in lost productivity, and another $1,500 per year in extra benefit plan costs. Preventing those 100,000 Canadians per year from developing diabetes will save Canadian businesses a further $18 billion in the next decade.

Canada’s economic prosperity depends on a healthy workforce. Yet at a time when Canada can least afford to have a drag on our productivity and competitiveness, diabetes and other chronic diseases are taking a huge toll. Many of the five million Canadians living with diabetes are working age and we know that the effects of living with this challenging disease impede their ability to fully participate in the workforce. For employees who must take disability leave because of their diabetes, the leaves are on average 15% longer in duration, and many of these employees remain on disability until death. Implementing the Diabetes 360˚ recommendations can help ensure Canada’s economic health at the same time it ensures our physical health.

To implement these recommendations, Diabetes Canada suggests that a national partnership be created for a period of seven years. That partnership would collaborate with provinces and territories, civil society and the private sector to prioritize and implement programs to achieve the Diabetes 360˚ targets, with a goal of working itself out of a job as quickly as possible.

For a strategic investment of $150 million over seven years, the federal government can achieve at least $36 billion in cost reduction, ensure the future health and prosperity of Canadians and truly make a difference for all Canadians affected by diabetes.

To listen to the transcript, you can visit here, forward to 10:44 mark.

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