October 11, 2018

Diabetes Canada and the Canadian Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism (CSEM) opened their annual Professional Conference and Annual Meetings today in Halifax by releasing an open letter that they, along with the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Nurses Association, the Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association, signed, calling  on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and all politicians from all levels of government – federal, provincial, territorial and municipal –  to urgently respond to the diabetes epidemic by supporting a nation-wide diabetes strategy framework called Diabetes 360º. Other healthcare and diabetes-focused stakeholder organizations previously joined with Diabetes Canada in recommending a nation-wide diabetes strategy.

Since 2000, the number of people in Canada with diabetes has doubled and today, one in three Canadians lives with prediabetes or diabetes. Those who are 20 years old today have a 50-50 chance of developing the disease in their lifetime. For some First Nations people, that risk is up to 80 per cent. Other groups in Canada such as seniors are also at high risk, with close to 40 per cent of new diagnosed cases in 2018 happening in the senior population. Recognizing this, over the last year, Diabetes Canada convened nearly 120 individuals representing 100 national stakeholder organizations and people with diabetes to build a framework for a new nation-wide diabetes strategy and released a report in late July outlining measurable targets and recommended strategies to meet them within seven years.

Dr. Jan Hux, Diabetes Canada, President and CEO also encouraged the more than 1,600 health care professionals attending, many of whom have dedicated their careers to supporting the prevention and improved health outcomes for the millions of Canadians living with diabetes, to join Diabetes Canada and the country’s top medical associations in advocating for the implementation of Diabetes 360º. Diabetes Canada is also reaching out to all Canadians, through an online advocacy campaign, asking them to support a nation-wide diabetes strategy by contacting their local MPs. And, many from across Canada are responding.

In addition to the prevalence rates, and human suffering, the economic cost of diabetes is growing in Canada. According to the International Diabetes Federation, this year’s cost to Canada’s health care system is expected to be more than $27 billion. At this rate, the cost to our healthcare system will top $39 billion within a decade. These costs can be reduced and more importantly, the health and well-being of Canadians can be improved and extended, if the federal government supports a nation-wide diabetes strategy.

In Budget 2019, Diabetes Canada and supporters are asking the Government of Canada to establish a national partnership and invest $150 million in funding over seven years. The partnership, which would consist of all levels of government, the private sector and civil society, and work with provinces and territories to implement the Diabetes 360º targets in a manner tailored to each jurisdiction. Concurrently, the federal government should facilitate the creation of an Indigenous-specific framework led and owned by Indigenous groups.

At present, provinces and territories are not consistent in addressing diabetes. There are evidence-based and cost-effective strategies available now to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, its complications and the premature death that can result from all types of diabetes. Some of these strategies, include tackling food security issues, providing regular physical activity for all Canadians and fostering research into prevention and a cure for diabetes. Others include ensuring Canadians have access to diabetes screening sooner and where they live and that there be consistent access across the country to the medications, devices and supplies needed to manage diabetes well.

An investment now can save lives, improve the health of all Canadians and billions in health care costs. If the Diabetes 360º framework is implemented, we will not eliminate diabetes but we will have turned the tide of the epidemic and created community, clinical and policy environments that reduce the chances of getting diabetes and make it easier to live with for those who have it. Additionally, more than 1 million Canadians won’t receive a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, over 50,000 lower limb amputations will be avoided and 350,000 hospitalizations will be prevented, saving our healthcare system $36 billion in the next ten years.



“The Prime Minister and the Government of Canada have a unique opportunity to create a partnership of civil society, governments, and the private sector to implement a nation-wide diabetes strategy. Despite the isolated efforts of the health care community, researchers, corporate partners, those with diabetes and donors alike, the economic and human cost of diabetes in Canada is escalating and we can’t afford to wait any longer. Without a coordinated, national approach to tackling this urgent issue, there is a very high risk to the health of millions of Canadians.” - Dr. Jan Hux, President and CEO, Diabetes Canada

“Diabetes can no longer be ignored. It impacts an increasing number of Canadians, but most concerning of all, it is affecting our most vulnerable populations. We need to make a concerted effort to bring the appropriate support for Canadians dealing with the disease and the system to cope with its rising costs.” - Dr. Gigi Osler, President, Canadian Medical Association

“It is important that Canada’s diabetes researchers and health-care professionals support the call for a national diabetes strategy. The more than 1600 conference attendees, including those living with diabetes, understand that an evidence-based and coordinated approach to the prevention and care of diabetes can greatly improve health outcomes for Canadians.”  - Dr. Alice Cheng, Endocrinologist, Trillium Health Partners and St. Michael's Hospital, Diabetes Canada and the Canadian Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism (CSEM) 2018 Conference Co-Chair

”There are health inequalities among prevention and treatment of those with diabetes, especially among Indigenous communities which have a much higher prevalence of diabetes and greater challenges accessing supports. The proposed national diabetes strategy framework offers the opportunity to level the playing field and save lives." - Marilee A. Nowgesic, Executive Director, Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association

Diabetes is a dangerous and insidious disease that unfortunately often goes undetected for years before a diagnosis is made. Identification of people at risk for this disease is of paramount importance for optimal prevention of the devastating complications of diabetes.” - Dr. André Carpentier, Endocrinologist and Researcher of the Université de Sherbrooke

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.

For more information, visit diabetes.ca or call 1-800-BANTING (226-8464).

For more information:

Kathleen Powderley
Media Relations
Diabetes Canada

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