Mr. Speaker, I rise today to discuss Bill C-356, an act respecting a national strategy for dementia. I thank the member, my friend from Nickel Belt, very much for bringing this bill forward.
It is unfortunate that he is a little late in the cycle, because the government has been very active on this file in the last couple of years. However, I want to commend him for doing it and say that he has performed a very useful service for people with dementia by bringing the public's attention to this issue, as he has managed to do through this private member's bill. I commend him for that.
Bill C-356 states that research remains the key to finding a cure and that early diagnosis and support for treatment can lead to positive health outcomes for persons with any form of dementia. In turn, this can have a positive impact on the family and friends who provide care for people affected by dementia.
I could not agree more, and our government could not agree more. In fact, Canada's commitments, both domestically and internationally, have led to our being recognized as a global leader in dementia research.
The member mentioned some of these recent commitments in his speech. The commitments are driven by the fact that between 6% and 15% of Canadians over 65 currently suffer from Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. As our population ages, the number of Canadians with dementia is expected to double by 2031. This will have great impact on the families and caregivers of Canadians living with this disease.
To accelerate research efforts, the government is working in close collaboration with the provinces and territories, external organizations, universities, researchers, international experts, and patients and their families to improve our understanding of these conditions in order to help those affected and their families and caregivers.
As an example of global collaboration in this area, the Minister of Health represented Canada at the world's first global summit on dementia in London. This global meeting resulted in G8 ministers committing to work toward a cure for dementia by 2025, an extremely laudable goal, and I pray that they meet that goal.
Canada is upholding these promises through various international and domestic research initiatives that will bring together a variety of stakeholders toward meeting these important goals. For example, in September of 2014, nearly 200 industry leaders, academics, and policy-makers from across Canada and around the world met in Ottawa for a global dementia legacy event. This event was co-hosted by Canada and France as a follow-up to the global summit.
The Ottawa legacy event focused on finding ways to support and develop joint public-private international approaches to dementia research. A report of the discussions was presented to G7 dementia leaders. It will contribute to the development of a global action framework that aims to promote international collaboration and share ideas, data, platforms, and discoveries related to dementia.
At the global legacy event, the health minister released the coordinated Government of Canada approach to address dementia in the national dementia research and prevention plan publication. The plan outlines the government's investments, partnerships, and key initiatives related to dementia research and prevention. The research portion of the plan consists of activities that fall under the dementia research strategy led by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, or the CIHR.
I am not one who is fond of acronyms, but, quite frankly, I am going to have to use them in this speech or I simply will not be able to cover the material I would like to cover.
This strategy supports research on the latest preventive, diagnostic, and treatment approaches to Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. It consists of an international and a national component. Together, these two components work toward three common goals related to primary prevention, secondary prevention, and quality of life.
Our government, through CIHR, has increased its investments in dementia research by over 67% since we took office in 2006 for a total of $220 million. Last year alone, CIHR supported close to 400 research projects related to dementia, representing a federal investment of almost $38 million. Most of this research is funded under the CIHR dementia research strategy.
In September 2014, the Minister of Health launched the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging, or the CCNA. The CCNA is the national component of the CIHR dementia research strategy. It is Canada's premier research hub for all aspects of research involving neurodegenerative diseases that affect cognition in aging, including dementia. It represents a $22.6-million federal investment and is supported by an additional $9.9 million for important external public and private partners.
The CCNA brings together the very best researchers in Canada to achieve a unified objective. Together, they are working toward addressing the challenges posed by neurodegenerative diseases so that they can stimulate Canada's innovation, increase our competitiveness and lead us to solutions faster.
Currently, the CCNA is composed of over 300 researchers and 13 partners and stakeholders, all of whom are working to tackle dementia by understanding the root causes and how it progresses.
The CCNA is also integrating the perspectives of research users, policy-makers, industries and of course patients and their families to identify targeted achievable challenges that can be delivered in relatively short order. For example, CCNA researcher Dr. Sylvie Belleville brings expertise in recognizing the early signs of Alzheimer's disease. Her approach is to use a simple test of memory, attention and perception to identify those with Alzheimer's disease and ideally, slow the rate of damage to the brain.
Another CCNA researcher, Dr. Sandra Black, is interested in determining the causes and progression of dementia. Her team's approach focuses on taking pictures of the brain to see how dementia physically affects it over time. This research has already revealed important information about the connection between cardiovascular health and dementia.
CCNA is also proud to have on board Dr. Debra Morgan from the University of Saskatchewan. Her team designed a rural and remote memory clinic in Saskatoon, a one-stop shop for people with dementia and their families to get tested, treated and talk with dementia experts. This clinic reduces stress, difficulty and cost of travelling to access multiple services.
Using the new clinic model, the team has drastically decreased the time required to provide diagnosis and treatment, doing in a single day what could ordinarily take more than a year. To families and caregivers, this makes a big difference, as of course it does to the individual affected.
As is called for in the bill, research is already including populations at high risk of dementia, those less likely to receive care and more likely to be affected by its associated burden, such as women and aboriginal populations.
I once again want to commend the member for bringing forth this private member's bill. A lot of the benefit of private members' bills can be the attention they bring to issues. I want to thank my friend from Nickel Belt for bringing much needed attention to the issue and I think adding to what the government is doing in this area already. I wish him all the best in continuing with these efforts.