Mr. Speaker, for my closing remarks I would like to read parts of two letters. The first one was sent to the Hill Times by Matthew Dineen, who writes:
As Canadian delegates left for the G8 Summit on Dementia in England in late 2013, I made the following comment concerning our country’s lack of a national dementia plan: “We must act. A national dementia strategy is imperative for Lisa, Justin, Rebecca, Peter and so many others,” (The Hill Times, Dec. 9, 2013). A little over a year later, as my 46-year old wife’s frontotemporal dementia condition continues to advance, my message has become far more urgent for her, our children, and millions of Canadians.
Three weeks ago, the Conservative government announced it opposes Bill C-356, a bill for a national dementia strategy introduced by NDP MP [for Nickel Belt]. It is concrete legislation that, if passed, will mandate action for a national plan. Largely ignored in the mainstream media, this government decision is bound to harm aging Canadians and their caregivers unless enough Conservative MPs do the right thing and support this private member’s bill.
I remain hopeful this can happen.
On March 13, [the MP for Nickel Belt] noted in second reading debate that an agreement was in place to pass the bill with Conservative support, given the NDP had accepted in discussions the government’s proposed amendments.
Just to clarify, every amendment that the Minister of Health wanted added to the bill was added, and every article that she wanted removed from the bill was removed, and we are not infringing on provincial matters.
He goes on to say:
Sadly, the Conservatives backed away, introducing instead a motion by MP [from Bruce—Huron], which captures the government’s work on dementia and uses language and issues named in C-356....But what the Conservatives call their national dementia strategy is in fact a research strategy alone, a plan that does not immediately help patients, caregivers, and the dementia workforce. As important as research is, it does not help keep our loved ones with Alzheimer’s or related dementia diseases in the home.
A “feel good” motion might get unanimous approval in Parliament with no referral to committee, no hearing from stakeholders, [doctors, caregivers and, most important, the person with dementia] and especially no binding law to enforce the plan.
Work by many key stakeholders this past year has ignited a discussion about the impending dementia tsunami in Canada—750,000 people currently diagnosed (a figure that will double in a generation) plus the three to four caregivers (on average) each patient has—meaning the disease directly affects more than three million Canadians....A real plan would help caregivers like Tanya Levesque of Ottawa....
A motion doesn’t help our caregivers.
It goes without saying that the issue of dementia should be non-partisan....I believe individual MPs looking at the evidence and hearing from constituents will do the right thing.
The second letter that I want to read from was written by Bill Heibein of the Ontario Dementia Advisory Group of Kakabeka Falls. It states:
Group urges passage of MP’s dementia bill
We are a group of people living with dementia in Ontario. Our group was formed in the fall of 2014 with the purpose of influencing policies, practices, and people to ensure that we, people living with dementia, are included in every decision that affects our lives.
Our vision is for people living with dementia in Ontario to be directly involved as experts and at the centre of our own care. Our first of three goals is to be involved in the development and implementation of public policy that will affect people living with dementia across Ontario....When you have dementia, you worry about the time. How much time do you have before you get worse, are moved into a long-term care facility and die.
Yes, research is important. But so is our current living ability. We need an integrated national strategy, which will help drive our provincial strategy
In closing, I urge all MPs to support this bill. It is too late for my mom, but it may not be too late for their parents, their brothers, their sisters, their spouse, their children and for the person sitting beside them today. However, most important, it is not too late for the members themselves. It is also not too late for them to do the right thing for many Canadians living with dementia.
I thank all of the people who supported and helped me to bring dementia to the forefront and on the minds of many Canadians. Matthew Dineen, Fran Linton, Lorraine Leblanc from the Alzheimer Society of Sudbury, Manitoulin, the Alzheimer Society of BC, the Alzheimer Society of Ontario, Alzheimer Society of Canada, my assistant Rick Prashaw and many more. I thank them very much.