Mr. Chair, vice-chairs, and members of the committee, it's an honour to be here today to present my private member's bill, along with my fellow colleague, the member for Don Valley West, Mr. Rob Oliphant.
Bill C-233, is an act respecting a national strategy for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. This bill calls upon parliamentarians to enact legislation for a national coordinated strategy for what has been termed Canada's invisible killer. Alzheimer's and dementia are major health problems that transcend partisanship and are affecting a staggering number of Canadians currently. I believe you have heard that 740,000 Canadians currently suffer from Alzheimer's, and ever more concerning is the fact that this number is expected to double in the next 20 years.
This is why I believe Canada needs to have a plan. I'm certain Mr. Oliphant will touch upon his experiences with Alzheimer's and dementia when he speaks, so I would like to take a moment to note the work on this topic by a former member of Parliament, Claude Gravelle. It's most heartening to know that in matters of concern to Canadians and their families, MPs can work together across party lines to unite and advocate for research, collaboration, and partnership, to find cures, timely diagnoses, and other support for treatment. This co-operation will lead to positive outcomes for Canadians who suffer from Alzheimer's and dementia, and will reassure their loved ones that people who are suffering from this will have the proper care. Canadians expect that their parliamentarians will work on their behalf to resolve these critical issues.
The impact on families whose loved ones are suffering from Alzheimer's or dementia is extensive. Three out of four Canadians know someone living with dementia. I can't tell you how many people have approached me over the last couple of months to tell me the stories they have experienced within their families. This not only takes an emotional, psychological, and physical toll on those who are providing support for loved ones, but it also has a severe financial effect.
In 2011, caregivers provided 444 million hours of care, representing $11 billion in lost income, and about 230,000 full-time jobs. By 2040, caregivers will be providing 1.2 billion hours of care, over two and a half times the number of hours they provide today.
Alzheimer's and dementia are no respecters of people as they rob them of their dignity, independence, memory, and time. They know no bounds and are not restricted to social or economic factors. No one is immune to these terrible diseases and the suffering that follows.
It brings to mind the late United States President Ronald Reagan. The former leader of one of the most powerful and wealthy nations on earth could not be safeguarded from the ravages of Alzheimer's. On November 5, 1994, I remember him as the 40th president of the United States, addressing the American people by writing, in part, “I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life.” That journey took 10 slow and painful years. His loving wife Nancy referred to it as the long goodbye.
Far too many Canadians endure the long goodbye. My own father, who I cherished, passed away from complications due to Alzheimer's, and I am joined by many who have dealt with or are dealing with a loved one suffering from one of the various forms of Alzheimer's and dementia. Again, we know that this is going to increase.
The bill I have put before you, first of all, proposes to establish a round table to receive input from all Canadians. It would develop a national strategy, while ensuring the autonomy of the provinces remains intact. Second, it would encourage greater investment in all areas related to Alzheimer's and dementia, in addition to coordinating with international bodies to fight against the disease. Third, it would seek the assistance of the provinces in developing and disseminating diagnostic and treatment guidelines based on new research. All of these measures have been thoroughly considered to ensure the successful passage of this legislation.
Importantly, please note that this bill does not restrict timelines or financial criteria. This is a deliberate intention to remove potential barriers, such as the need for a royal recommendation. Simply put, this bill is crafted for implementation, achievement of deliverables and, ultimately, resilience at third reading. The objective is to enact legislation that would provide solutions to assist those who suffer from Alzheimer's and dementia, and to aid family members and caregivers.
The World Dementia Council was created by the G8 in 2013 as a global coordinating movement against Alzheimer's and other dementias. It's trying to harmonize those efforts and bring together global know-how.
Canada, along with its G8 partners, had convened a meeting in London, England, in December 2013. The sole purpose of that meeting was to provide a structure for a worldwide response to this crisis. It was the first time that the G8 countries had gathered together to address a health care issue. It's clear that Canada has already agreed to work with our partners to address Alzheimer's.
In order to fulfill this mandate, we have to develop similar programs here at home. Bill C-233 would help achieve this outcome through the national strategy. I would reiterate that Bill C-233 would respect the health care accountability of each province. I was very careful in the drafting of this bill to ensure that it does not require a royal recommendation.
I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge and thank the Alzheimer Society of Canada for their unwavering support of this bill. Their mandate and the objective of this bill closely align and support one another. The Alzheimer Society stated that it was pleased to see political parties working together to address dementia. It urged all members of Parliament to get behind this bill, suggesting that a national strategy focusing on research, prevention, and improved care is the only solution to tackling the impact of this disease.
I believe that support for this bill is the right thing. Alzheimer's and other dementias are major health issues that impact hundreds of thousands of Canadians, and it is a problem that is growing every day. Canada needs a strategy now, so Canadians can be prepared to take on this health crisis in the future.
Thank you for your support.
I'd like to now turn it over to my colleague, Robert Oliphant.