That, in the opinion of the House, the government should recognize that one in four Canadians is living with diabetes or pre-diabetes, and, without treatment, diabetes can result in life-threatening complications, and that diabetes awareness and education can help identify early signs of diabetes and prevent onset for millions of Canadians, and that as the birthplace of insulin, Canada should be a leader in diabetes awareness by declaring November of every year as Diabetes Awareness Month.
She said: Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to Motion No. 173, which seeks to raise awareness and education of diabetes as an important step in defeating this terrible disease that impacts the lives of so many Canadians.
More than 11 million Canadians are impacted by this epidemic. Every three minutes, another Canadian is diagnosed with this terrible disease, which is a major cause of strokes, heart attacks, kidney failures and lower limb amputations. The rate of diabetes is extremely high for our first nations population living on reserve.
Diabetes occurs when a person's body is unable to produce or use insulin, the hormone that controls blood glucose levels. If left untreated, serious complications can occur, which can even lead to premature death.
Awareness and education cannot only help these people remain healthy, but it can also help to identify early signs of diabetes and prevent onset for millions of Canadians. This is why I am introducing my motion to mark November as diabetes awareness month. With a month dedicated to public education about the influence of diabetes, Canadians have an opportunity to grow and learn.
This important public health issue is already being recognized by domestic and international groups.
November, in particular, is a good choice as World Diabetes Day is presently held globally every November 14 and is recognized as an official United Nations day. This is the world's largest diabetes awareness campaign, reaching a global audience of over one billion people in more than 160 countries. The campaign draws attention to issues of paramount importance to the diabetes world and keeps diabetes firmly in the public and political spotlight.
Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects Canadians of all ages. Each year, close to 200,000 Canadians are newly diagnosed with diabetes and approximately 90% of those are type 2. Presently, about three million Canadians are living with diagnosed diabetes. With the growth and aging of the Canadian population, the number of Canadians living with diabetes is expected to continue to increase in the coming years.
Some Canadians are at increased risk of diabetes, such as South Asians, first nations and Métis people and immigrants. There are higher rates of diabetes among Canadians with lower incomes and education.
Type 2 diabetes and many other chronic diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases, are largely preventable. Scientific evidence demonstrates that by eating healthier, increasing physical activity, moderating alcohol use and not smoking, the onset of many chronic diseases can be prevented or delayed.
That is why the public health community in Canada and internationally has moved away from disease-specific approaches, instead adopting approaches to address the common risk factors for chronic diseases. The World Health Organization's global action plan for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases 2013-2020 is a blueprint for such an approach.
Complex public health challenges such as chronic diseases, including diabetes, defy single solution approaches. No organization, institution or sector of society acting alone can solve this challenge on their own. All segments of society, communities, academia, the charitable and not-for-profit sector and the private sector must work together if we are to be successful.
Educating and encouraging policies that support people with diabetes and those working to prevent it has been my priority since being elected in 2015.
As a health care professional for 18 years, I came to Ottawa well aware of the burden that diabetes had placed on our country and was very motivated to work toward finding long-term solutions.
That is why I was honoured to become chair of the all-party diabetes caucus. There we have learned more about the extreme hardships and enormous demands on our health care system caused by diabetes.
ln November 2018, we engaged fellow parliamentarians to participate in "Diabetes Day on the Hill" in order to raise awareness of diabetic risks to Canadians and to build support for an updated comprehensive national diabetes strategy. Last year, a diabetes mobile screening unit was brought in to emphasize the diabetes prevention aspect.
Locally, in my community, I sponsored a similar proclamation for the City of Brampton in 2017. There has been increased interest among local stakeholders and community organizations in acting on diabetes during this time and throughout the year. Many cities and municipalities observe November 14, and now it is time to raise awareness across the country.
When looking at the increasing personal and economic hardship that diabetes had on families and the negative impact on our health care system, it became clear to me that something more had to be done and that our national strategy on diabetes had to be updated. That was why I encouraged the Standing Committee Health, which I am very proud to serve on, to help find new solutions. I am grateful that my colleagues from all parties share my beliefs, which is why they agreed to study the diabetes strategy in Canada and abroad.
Diabetes is a complex disease with many causes and risk factors, so our study was comprehensive. We heard from many expert witnesses, patients and international experts on how Canada could best address the diabetes epidemic. It is clear that Canada needs a framework to coordinate the efforts of the provinces and territories to treat diabetes, to share best practices, to integrate the perspectives of the patients and to leverage opportunities for partnerships.
The World Health Organization recommends that every country implement a national diabetes strategy. However, Canada has been without one, despite having one of the highest rates of diabetes among the world's most developed nations.
After this study was completed in April, I was honoured to sit by the chair of the Standing Committee on Health in this chamber as he tabled a report. It called on the government to make such a strategy for our nation and take firm action toward diabetes prevention and support. In total, we made 11 recommendations to the government. This report will go a long way in combatting diabetes.
This report was a first step; my motion is the next. Furthermore, I have taken many more steps over the years to raise awareness for fellow Canadians about diabetes.
In 2017, I travelled extensively to consult medical professionals about how best to meet the needs of those suffering from diabetes. This gave me even greater insight into how diabetes impacted communities in different regions of Canada. The result of this was the publication of the report “Defeating Diabetes”, which promotes healthy eating as a prevention method.
In October 2017, I represented Canada, along with a colleague, at the Global Diabetes policy forum in Italy. Thirty-eight countries were represented. We talked about the best way to tackle this growing issue. I also attended the World Congress of Diabetes in Calcutta, India. Through engagement with international leaders, we were able to compare research and assess our commitment to the fight against diabetes.
Based on these experiences, it is my strong belief that increased awareness and education is a necessary first step in reaching our goal of a national strategy to slow the incidence of diabetes and eventually eliminate it. I also believe that to succeed, we must all work together regardless of our political affiliation.
Among many formal events that have allowed me to learn more about this disease, I also successfully initiated small-scale projects and challenges, which have encouraged my colleagues and residents of Brampton South to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
In November 2016, I published tips for MPs for staying healthy. In January 2017, I organized and encouraged 40 MPs to post healthy New Year's resolutions.
During the 2017 Diabetes Day on the Hill, I challenged my fellow parliamentarians to defeat diabetes one step at a time. Nearly 100 parliamentarians accepted the challenge and wore a pedometer for 10 days to log their efforts to be healthier.
The Government of Canada is also investing in innovative community-based programming and public education to test and scale up projects that help to prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes and encourage healthy living choices. By coordinating efforts across governments, we are beginning to see that progress.
Early in our mandate, the Government of Canada took action to help Canadians eat healthier. As I mentioned earlier, healthy eating is very important in helping to prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes. Earlier this year, I am proud to say this government updated and published a new Canada food guide, based on the best evidence available, to promote healthy eating. Also, just last year, federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for sport, physical activity and recreation released “Let's Get Moving”, a new common vision to address physical activity and reduce sedentary living. This work represented an important milestone for governments and was the culmination of three years of work by officials, including working with federal, provincial and territorial health officials, the non-government sector and indigenous organizations.
The provinces and territories are also key partners in health surveillance to better understand the impact of chronic disease and risk and protective factors. For instance, in collaboration with all provinces and territories, the Public Health Agency of Canada conducts national surveillance of diabetes and 20 other chronic conditions to support the planning and evaluation of related policies and programs. The pan-Canadian health inequalities reporting initiative includes new insights into how diabetes impacts different groups of Canadians in different contexts, and products including an interactive online data tool and a narrative report on key health inequalities in Canada. This initiative is a partnership between the Public Health Agency of Canada, the provinces and territories, Statistics Canada, the Canadian Institute for Health Information and the First Nations Information Governance Centre.
The government collaborates with the jurisdictions on digital health through Canada Health Infoway. Specific to diabetes, Canada Health Infoway has collaborated with our provinces and territories on remote patient monitoring. In addition to collaborating with our provincial and territorial partners, the Government of Canada recognizes that innovative solutions and partnerships with health and other sectors are needed to better address the complex challenge of chronic disease prevention, including diabetes. This approach is rooted in the idea that we are all working towards a shared goal of producing better health outcomes for all Canadians.
However, more can always be done. Let us combat this disease and its life-threatening complications by making our citizens familiar with diabetes warning signs, encouraging healthy lifestyle choices and making it possible to access the best quality of care.
In closing, I would like to thank my colleagues from all parties for their support on this issue, which has been so important to me for much of my adult life. I want to thank them for their non-partisan and collaborative support to improve awareness and education and in this way improve the lives of so many Canadians suffering from diabetes. I believe we can achieve some great things here if we work together and keep the best interests of Canadians in mind.
Canada gave insulin to the world, improving the lives of millions of people. There is no reason we cannot lead the fight to defeat diabetes. This is why I am tabling Motion No. 173 to designate the month of November as diabetes awareness month in Canada and respectfully ask for the support of all my colleagues in this Parliament.