Madam Speaker, some diseases quietly besiege their victims and can eventually compromise their health and threaten their very survival.
Diabetes is one such disease. More and more people are aware of diabetes because a growing number of Canadians and Quebeckers are being diagnosed with it. Personally, the disease has not affected me or any of my family members or friends.
However, in my work as the member of Parliament for Repentigny, I met Juliette Benoît for the first time in October 2018. Juliette was 13, and she came to Parliament Hill to raise parliamentarians' awareness of a disease that tends to be poorly understood by the general public, type 1 diabetes. This disease generally appears in young people under 20 and is characterized by the total absence of insulin production. People with this type of diabetes must have daily insulin injections or be fitted with an insulin pump to survive. Like Juliette, approximately 10% of people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes.
This young girl captured my attention the moment I met her. A few words that come to mind when I think of her are eloquent, precise, determined and brave. She wants to help advance the research on a potentially life-threatening disease that she has had since she was 11 years old. That is why she got involved in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, which could not ask for a better ambassador.
I have to say that it is because of Juliette Benoît that I am currently a member of the all-party juvenile diabetes caucus. Juliette took a personal problem and used it as an opportunity to shine the light on a disease that affects nearly 300,000 people in Canada. She convinced me to get more involved in this cause and she used her disease to become a force for change. That is wonderful to see.
I thank the member for Brampton South for introducing Bill C-237, which seeks to establish a national framework for diabetes. Section 2 of the bill explains that the national framework must include measures to:
(a) explain what diabetes and prediabetes are;
(b) identify the training, education and guidance needs of health care and other professionals related to the prevention and treatment of diabetes, including clinical practice guidelines;
(c) promote research and improve data collection on diabetes prevention and treatment;
(d) promote information and knowledge sharing in relation to diabetes prevention and treatment;
(e) take into consideration any existing diabetes prevention and treatment frameworks, strategies and best practices, including those that focus on addressing health inequalities; and
(f) ensure that the Canada Revenue Agency is administering the disability tax credit fairly and that the credit, in order to achieve its purposes, is designed to help as many persons with diabetes as possible.
Bill C-237 gives the government one year to develop the strategic framework and five years to report on its effectiveness. The bill provides for the strategy to be designed in consultation with the provincial governments and Quebec. If the bill moves forward, the Bloc Québécois must ensure that the national framework reflects the demands of Quebec and respects its jurisdiction, because that matters to us. Certain aspects of clause 2 fall under the jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces.
I already mentioned Juliette, who is living with type 1 diabetes, and now I would like to talk briefly about the two other kinds of diabetes, type 2 and gestational diabetes.
In Canada in 2020, of the more than 3.7 million diagnosed cases of type 1 and type 2 diabetes combined, 90% were type 2. This type of diabetes usually appears in adulthood, in individuals 40 years of age and older. Because of rising obesity rates, diabetes is starting to appear in increasingly younger populations, sometimes as early as childhood in certain risk groups. People with type 2 diabetes cannot properly use the insulin made by their bodies, and they eventually produce less and less of this essential hormone.
Between 3% and 20% of pregnant women experience an increase in blood glucose levels beginning in the second or third trimester of pregnancy. In most cases, this gestational diabetes disappears after the birth, but the mother is at risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the years that follow.
It goes without saying that women should be monitored properly in the months and years after they give birth. That being said, we can all agree that this bill provides a framework that proposes objectives, actions and ambitions that have already been broadly discussed in several specialized forums, including the annual meetings of doctors who specialize in endocrinology and pediatric endocrinology. Seminars, symposiums and research institutes also investigate this sometimes misunderstood and long-stigmatized disease, which may affect more than 13.5 million Canadian citizens in 2030.
Canada is the birthplace of the discovery of insulin. This year marks the 100th anniversary of that discovery, and it is to Canada's credit that it is allocating resources to the advancement of research into diabetes, among other things. This is precisely where the government should be providing support, in addition to increasing transfers, of course.
Research into diabetes and medical treatment for it are advancing quickly. Note that the fact that there are five different types of diabetes has eluded researchers until very recently. In 2019, the renowned scientific journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology published this finding, made by a team of Scandinavian researchers. Having looked at cases characterized as atypical, these researchers are better prepared to prevent the onset of the disease and better treat people who develop it.
Also in 2019, American scientists in California grew insulin-producing cells in a laboratory. They describe their work as a major breakthrough that could lead to a cure for type 1 diabetes. I invite interested colleagues to read the journal Nature Cell Biology to learn about the science that could lead to a cure for insulin-dependent diabetes within a few years.
The prevalence of this disease is alarming, especially with children developing type 2 diabetes, which used to affect only adults, so the need for research will grow. Every aggravating factor leading to the development of diabetes should be meticulously studied, because not only will the health and social costs be enormous, but the direct costs to the health care system could reach almost $5 billion Canadian by 2030. This was a question asked earlier by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance. We may not have the same figures, as the member for Brampton South had a different figure, but it is important to remember that a great deal of money could be directed to other issues if we could find a cure for diabetes.
I spoke about Juliette at the beginning of my speech. What is she doing now, three years after our first meeting? She continues her advocacy with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Last November, she participated in Kids for a Cure Lobby Day and shared her personal story with some MPs. She was surprised to see just how young some MPs are. Several are in their thirties, and some are even in their twenties. I believe that she is considering getting into politics. She is ambitious, disciplined and has everything it takes to make the world a better place. I thank her for talking to me about her hopes of making a difference for people with diabetes.