Evidence of meeting #123 for Health in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was insulin.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Charlene Lavergne  As an Individual
Stacey Livitski  As an Individual
Karen Kemp  Diabetes Advocate, Diabetes Canada

9:40 a.m.

Diabetes Advocate, Diabetes Canada

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

You've never been refused?

November 20th, 2018 / 9:40 a.m.

Diabetes Advocate, Diabetes Canada

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

That's excellent.

9:45 a.m.

Diabetes Advocate, Diabetes Canada

Karen Kemp

My doctor fills out the form and submits it.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

All right.

After all the testimony I've heard, it sounds to me that it would be terrific if, when a person is first diagnosed, it would be recognized what type of diabetes it is and what the best method would be long term to control it. For example, if when you were young, you needed a glucose pump and you were able to get one, that would offset....

It's going to cost $7,000 for that pump, and I'm not sure how often you'd have to replace it, but that would preclude some of the emergency room visits, the amputations, the very expensive procedures. I think we heard something about $70,000 for serious diabetes intervention in hospital. It would be ideal for the person's life if they were able to have the technology and they were on a plan where it was paid for—needles, etc. That would be good.

Is there anything else that is needed in order to really address this issue that is affecting...? I guess one-third of Canadians have diabetes or prediabetes.

9:45 a.m.

As an Individual

Stacey Livitski

There is something with the disability tax credit that I didn't get to mention. When I was denied the last time I applied, I called the office and was told that as long as my file went across that agent's desk, she would never approve my claim because she felt I did not deserve it.

Like Charlene, I have peripheral neuropathy. I am in shape because I do work out, but every time I take a step, that step hurts, and that was not taken into account. It was really a blast for me to be told by this agent, “I don't feel you deserve this, and as long as your file goes across my desk, I will not approve your claim.” Do you know how heartbreaking that is?

I wrote a letter and sent it to the appeals office, which is located elsewhere, and to the office in Sudbury, across the desk of this lady who told me I wasn't approvable on her account, and I explained the mental impact, because that is what's huge.

I get blamed, just like Charlene does, because I'm diabetic. I did nothing wrong. As I said, we're fighting every day. There are small system breaks that just need to be fixed so that we don't get blamed for everything we do and we get credit and are acknowledged for doing everything that we do to try to stay healthy.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Yes, we've heard quite a number of horrific stories of how Canada Revenue Agency has treated people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes over this whole disability tax credit.

Ms. Livitski, you seem to know quite a lot about Diabetes Canada. Do you know about their 360° plan, and do you think just implementing that plan would be the answer?

9:45 a.m.

As an Individual

Stacey Livitski

It's going to help a lot.

As Charlene said, she gets blamed because she's Métis. I mentioned my 16-year-old daughter, who has status as well. There's a pediatrician in town she will not speak to because when she mentioned that she works out, the physician said, “Why do you work out? You're tall and slim. What do you have to do to work out?” She also has ADHD, and she said, “Well, I do it to stay healthy. I have ADHD, and this helps. I'm at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.” He looked her up and down and asked why she would say a thing like that. Well, it's on both sides of her family. She has that genetic disposition, and it's likely going to affect her. The 360° plan would help my daughter in the future.

Prevention of limb.... As I said, it's huge in northwestern Ontario, especially in Thunder Bay, and I am very afraid of it.

Yes, the plan is still high level, but I think it's going to help us slowly get down to those root issues.

9:45 a.m.

As an Individual

Charlene Lavergne

But it's a plan. It's something.

9:45 a.m.

As an Individual

Stacey Livitski

It's a start.

9:45 a.m.

As an Individual

Charlene Lavergne

It gives you hope. It says, “Hey, we care about you.”

9:45 a.m.

Diabetes Advocate, Diabetes Canada

Karen Kemp

If people living with diabetes aren't able to take care of themselves and properly manage it, it's extremely dangerous, and it's life-threatening. If you have read my notes, you will know that my sister passed away at the age of 29. Her blood sugar went low. It's a reality. It's something we all live in fear of, that when we go to sleep, we might not wake up. That's just what we live with.

To give us the proper supplies we need to survive, is that asking too much?

9:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bill Casey

I have to go to Mr. McKinnon now.

Mr. McKinnon, you have five minutes.

9:50 a.m.

Liberal

Ron McKinnon Liberal Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Thank you, Chair.

Thank you all for coming.

Ms. Lavergne, you mentioned in your story that you're rationing insulin. You're holding off, not taking insulin and so forth.

Does that cause your other consequential things, like your neuropathy, to advance? Has that been made worse because of that?

9:50 a.m.

As an Individual

Charlene Lavergne

I think it's true that it does. I think there are studies that show neuropathy is inevitable for type 2s. The problem is that I really don't know what kind of type I am. I'm kind of in between. I think it makes it really bad.

I started out just having sore feet, and now you can see I have trouble with my facial muscles. It really is getting to be quite a handicap for me. It's really difficult.

9:50 a.m.

As an Individual

Stacey Livitski

I don't know about Charlene, but I know when my blood sugar is higher that I do feel the pain a lot more severely.

9:50 a.m.

As an Individual

Charlene Lavergne

It's not just the insulin. You get depressed. You can't get help. There are no psychiatrists. There are no psychologists. There is nothing out there. There's nobody to talk to about our issues.

I swim five nights a week. I try not to drown in the pool.

9:50 a.m.

Diabetes Advocate, Diabetes Canada

Karen Kemp

Fifty per cent of people living with diabetes, whether it's type 1, type 2, or type 1.5, suffer from depression. Fifty per cent.

9:50 a.m.

As an Individual

Stacey Livitski

And anxiety.

9:50 a.m.

As an Individual

Charlene Lavergne

It's really good some days.

9:50 a.m.

Diabetes Advocate, Diabetes Canada

Karen Kemp

To answer your question regarding the pump, you need a new pump every four to five years.

9:50 a.m.

Liberal

Ron McKinnon Liberal Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

I don't remember which one of you was talking about the agent who turned you down. What agent was that? Was that an agent with the federal government or the provincial government?

9:50 a.m.

As an Individual

Stacey Livitski

It was CRA when I did the disability tax credit. When you get your denial letter, you get a nice little form letter signed by an agent with their extension, which says, “If you have any questions, please call”, so I did.

9:50 a.m.

Liberal

Ron McKinnon Liberal Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

That sounds like a bureaucrat out of control. That's the sort of thing that needs to be taken up the line, because that's not the way they are supposed to be doing their job, as far as I'm concerned.

Were you able to advance that claim?