Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and speak to Bill C-237, the national framework for diabetes act.
I would like to thank the member for Brampton South for bringing it forward and for all her advocacy. From the time we were both elected in 2015, I have participated alongside her. We were both on the health committee when it came up with recommendations to the government on what it should do about diabetes. It is a serious issue for 11 million Canadians who have diabetes or prediabetes. That report was important.
The hon. member has also done numerous other things to raise awareness of diabetes on the Hill. I can remember an event for all the MPs to get tested, to understand how they could see the risk factors for diabetes and find out whether or not they actually had prediabetes or diabetes. That was great. There was another time when we brought in a mobile unit that had the ability to test and treat. These mobile units are very important here in Canada, especially in rural and remote places where, in many cases, it is very difficult to get access to a physician and the medical care that is so important to people who are living with diabetes.
For that, I congratulate the member. I am happy to see this bill being supported unanimously at committee, along with the support for the amendment that the Conservatives brought forward.
For those who are not aware of the different types of diabetes, 11 million Canadians have diabetes or prediabetes. Type 1 diabetics are people who cannot produce insulin, and there are 1.1 million of them. In order to get the insulin they need, they need to either inject it or use insulin pumps, a new technology that has really upgraded the quality of life for individuals. However, those pumps are $7,000 or $8,000, so affordability is a key issue there.
The most common type of diabetes is type 2. These individuals cannot use the insulin they are producing, or they are not producing enough insulin, and there are 9.9 million Canadians in this category. There are things that can lessen the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, including healthy eating and regular exercise. However, once people have this condition, they are going to require insulin therapy, medications and sometimes glucose monitoring. There have been good advances in the technology of glucose monitoring that have really improved the quality of life. Again, there is an affordability issue for some.
Canada began this 100 years ago, with Banting and Best and insulin, and we have continued to excel in technology in this area.
The bill itself is a national framework, and as part of that it is going to bring prevention and treatment. There will be training and an emphasis on educational needs, which I think is important. The more people know about diabetes, the risks and how they can prevent or minimize the impact, the better. There is also an important part on research and data collection. The government, over decades, has done excellent work to support diabetes research in Canada, and that needs to continue, along with the data collection.
The other part of the bill is information and knowledge sharing, related to preventing and treating diabetes. This will be important because this is a disease that can develop into other complicated conditions. Kidney disease is a common outcome for those who are at risk and who cannot control their insulin levels. Many have foot and leg problems that can result in amputation. There are eye diseases, and increase in heart attack and stroke. All of these issues are not just tragic for the individual, but also a cost to the health care system.
The parliamentary secretary previously made a comment that bringing in this national framework is not just the right thing to do, but it is also a cost-benefit. We know that if diabetes is not adequately controlled in an individual, an emergency room call is $1,500 and an amputation is $90,000. All of these things are incredibly costly to the health care system.
Although some concerns have been raised about whether or not the bill will be a problem with provincial jurisdiction, I would say that the provinces absolutely are open to receiving more federal funding to cover things and to do the right thing to prevent more expensive conditions from developing.
In fact, my own national framework on palliative care is a great example of how the federal government can work alongside the provinces to provide the supplemental things that do not exist at the provincial level and to have the provinces use their funding to accelerate the plan. With the palliative care framework, many things related to education, research and data collection, as in this bill, were put in place, but then the provinces also came alongside with money for hospice and for training paramedics and extending all kinds of things that have resulted in more people having access. My hope is that we will see the same thing with this bill. It is important.
The amendment that the Conservatives brought had to do with the disability tax credit. Members may remember that a few years ago there was a change made by CRA and 80% of people who previously were approved for the disability tax credit, which helps people pay for the medications and supplies they need as people living with diabetes, now became 80% rejected, and it was a long period of time of outcry from the opposition parties before the government set that right.
To be fair, the intent of the government was that if people were not eligible for the tax credit, they also were not eligible for the disability pension plan. That plan had been in effect for 10 years, and each individual who qualified had about $150,000 in the account, so there was a bit of a nefarious attempt to try to take that money away, which fortunately we were able to correct and get that in place.
Our amendment was to make sure that the CRA is administering the disability tax credit fairly and that the disability tax credit is designed to help as many persons with diabetes as possible and is achieving its objectives. This will provide a bit of oversight to ensure that this kind of thing does not happen again, and that will be very important.
What the bill does not do is provide some of the other funding that will be needed, and some of it has been talked about already. Diabetes Canada does an amazing job of making people aware, helping people living with diabetes, and providing tools and training, but it has a 360° initiative, calling on the federal government for quite a number of years, from the time I was the shadow health minister, and it has not been funded at any point. We need to see the government seriously consider, with 11 million Canadians living with this condition, that we have to be preventive in nature.
There are a lot of initiatives that also could be supported, like Participaction, getting people more fit. If we can get children more fit and eating more nutritiously, this is a key factor in preventing people from having type 2 diabetes, so that is an action that the government could take.
When it comes to pharmacare, the Liberals have been talking about this since 1992. Many provinces have plans already in place, and there is a very small number of Canadians who do not have coverage, but in particular there are people with diabetes who are not able to afford their medications. It is a larger cost to the system overall and something that should be addressed and could be quickly addressed through organizations like Diabetes Canada.
In terms of this framework, obviously I am a passionate advocate as well for eliminating diabetes and doing everything we can to help those individuals. I, as well as the Conservative Party, will be supporting this private member's bill. The member is to be commended for her continued advocacy and for her persistence in bringing more and more good ideas to the table. We can see from the reaction of the various parties that everyone wants to work together, alongside the provinces and territories and our indigenous organizations, to make sure that all people living with diabetes receive the help they need.