Mr. Speaker, we are here this evening to discuss Bill C-237, otherwise known as an act to establish a national framework for diabetes.
The purpose of this legislation is to promote and improve access to diabetes prevention and treatment. It is sponsored by my colleague from Brampton South and is going into the third stage, in other words, third reading.
To summarize Bill C-237, it seeks to explain what diabetes and prediabetes are; identify the training, education and guidance needs of health care and other professionals related to the prevention and treatment of diabetes; promote research and improve data collection in order to enhance the knowledge and information sharing required to conduct research; and ensure that the Canada Revenue Agency is administering the disability tax credit fairly so that it can help as many persons with diabetes as possible.
The legislation gives the government one year to develop the policy framework, and within five years the government must evaluate its effectiveness and revise it, of course, if necessary.
It should be noted that since 2016 Health Canada's Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Control has been managing the diabetes strategy. This plan is very general and contains more policy statements than meaningful measures.
Key aspects are essentially the same as the previous plan. That is why countless organizations are calling for a national plan or framework.
The Bloc Québécois is in favour of developing a national framework for diabetes. To oppose it in light of the medical catastrophe that this chronic disease represents would be just wrong.
However, it is imperative that this framework be developed with the demands of Quebec and the provinces in mind and, again, that the division of powers be respected.
In a way, health is a competitive jurisdiction since it involves some overlap between the provincial and federal governments. In the area of health, Quebec must have maximum authority and control. That is what we want and that is what we will have.
The federal government does have a role to play in prevention, and that includes working to stop the rampant obesity rates in this country. Obesity significantly increases a person's chance of becoming diabetic. Although Quebec is doing well compared to the other Canadian provinces and many major countries in the world, one in four Quebeckers is obese and will be obese in the coming years.
Diabetes Canada, the most influential diabetes organization in Canada, does not operate in Quebec. Instead, Quebec is fortunate to have Diabetes Québec, which provides information and support to its members and contributes to research. In 1994, the organization even founded Entraide diabétique du Québec, a separate organization that collects donations to help people with diabetes.
There are three main types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes. In all three types, the disease is characterized by chronic hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, which means that the person's glucose levels are too high.
Insulin abnormalities mean that sugar does not enter the body's cells to provide energy, but remains in the bloodstream anyway. This condition, which is lethal if left untreated, has a strong impact on susceptibility to cardiovascular disease, blindness and kidney failure, among others. Obviously, this type of disease can lead to limb amputations due to the factors listed previously.
With 442 million adults affected worldwide, diabetes truly is a global scourge, and Quebec is not spared. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, one in 10 Quebeckers has diabetes or pre-diabetes. The financial burden of diabetes is naturally staggering. According to Quebec's public health department, we are talking about $3 billion a year.
The good news is that almost 90% of type 2 diabetes cases can be prevented or even cured by adopting healthy lifestyle habits. This is why it is imperative to take preventive action by educating people about healthy lifestyle habits, including good nutrition and exercise.
However, we would be deluding ourselves if we thought that the ball is entirely in our court. The sugar lobbies are obviously working hard to slow down, dilute or nip in the bud any form of legislation that might seek to reduce refined sugars.
Legislating for a tax on products containing refined sugar, honest labelling or a restriction on the advertising of these products would prove to be a difficult but necessary task.
Conversely, we must also point out that the diabetes epidemic is a boon for pharmaceutical companies. In 2016, global profits from sales of insulin reached almost $50 billion. It is extremely difficult to conduct an effective prevention campaign when going up against powerful pharmaceutical companies, which boast that they can help people with diabetes live a normal life, even though that may be stretching the truth.
While waiting to win this battle, it is vital that we continue and even redouble our efforts to provide adequate services. Medical research is making great strides, but it is not enough. We also know which communities are the most vulnerable to diabetes. In Quebec and Canada, it is first nations. The rate of diabetes in these communities is five times greater than that in Quebec and Canada.
To address this problem, Health Canada has invested approximately $50 million per year since 1989, mainly through the aboriginal diabetes initiative. Organizations are tasked with working with indigenous peoples to reduce health inequalities. At this time, much more still has to be done, and the federal government will have to invest far more than $50 million a year to reverse the current trend. That, however, is a debate for another day.
It was exactly 100 years ago in Ontario, in the magnificent country of Canada, that insulin was discovered by a team of medical researchers. For their work, Frederick Banting and John Macleod were awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine two years later, in 1923.
As a pioneer in diabetes research and its treatment, Canada must have a clear and ambitious national framework. Nevertheless, the Bloc Québécois's support is contingent on the federal government respecting input from the provinces and Quebec and on the division of powers, which is what the Bloc Québécois wants. We will vote in favour of the bill as is because it does meet all the necessary criteria so far. Bill C-237 does not promise to eradicate the scourge of diabetes within the next few years, but it is a very acceptable solution even so.
Before I wrap up, I want to highlight the work of an organization in my riding, the Association du diabète Laval, Laurentides, which has been working tirelessly since 1984 to educate people about diabetes and share knowledge through presentations and workshops.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank hospitals and clinics in my riding and the rest of Quebec for the work they do every day to fight diabetes.
I applaud the medical professionals responsible for diagnosing and supporting patients with diabetes and improving their quality of life.
Lastly, I want to thank the researchers—