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View Nick Whalen Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Nick Whalen Profile
2019-06-17 11:11 [p.29156]
Mr. Speaker, I am proud to have this opportunity today to rise and speak in favour of Motion No. 173 to create November as diabetes awareness month. People at home might be wondering why I have an opportunity to speak to this motion, given that it is close to the hearts of so many members of Parliament. I am sure they would be interested to know that my own private member's bill was preempted by work that was already being done by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.
I have had the opportunity to share my private member's bill with a number of members in the House. The member for Surrey—Newton and I were able to work together to make sure that his Sikh Heritage Month bill made it to the Senate and was passed by both Houses in time for declaration prior to the rising of the House.
I was able to work with the member for Cumberland—Colchester, on a couple of occasions, to make sure that his private member's bill for the repatriation of indigenous artifacts was also able to get through the House and be called into law.
People might be aware that in the last few weeks, the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands was able to get Bill S-203, on preventing the captivity of whales and dolphins, through the House by my offering my slot to her on one occasion, and with one of the members from the New Democratic Party.
Therefore, when the member for Brampton South asked if I could help with providing an opportunity to get to second reading on her private member's bill, I was more than happy to help.
One of the reasons is that I have a close connection to diabetes in my family. Just over three years ago, my cousin Jimmy Grouchey passed away from complications of type 1 diabetes, alone in his home in Arizona. Both of my parents come from large post-World War II families. My mom had nine siblings growing up, and my dad had four siblings and two half siblings. The family we were closest to were the Groucheys, because we shared a summer home together. We would vacation together in the summertime, where Jimmy, Christina, David, Jennifer, Jon, Dan and I would have a really great time.
People with diabetes have to manage their disease, and certainly when they are living on their own, complications can result. Jimmy was always a go-getter, fun-loving and free-spirited. With the moratorium on the cod fishery, like many Newfoundlanders, he moved abroad to pursue his career. He had different careers, in sociology, as a patent agent, and in 2009, he became a nurse. He worked in North Carolina and then finally in Arizona.
Lack of awareness about this disease and the complications associated with it can be devastating for families. Jimmy passed away from that. He would have turned 50 on Monday of next week. I wanted an opportunity to tell Jimmy's story and share with the House that families can be affected by this. It is not just statistics; they are individuals and families like mine.
Our government recognizes the impact that diabetes has on roughly three million Canadians who live with it and the 200,000 new cases that are diagnosed each year. I would like to thank the member for Brampton South for her work in bringing this forward to the House. It is important to recognize and raise awareness about it.
By having awareness of diabetes front and centre, fewer people will succumb to the complications. Fewer people will allow themselves to get to the point where they develop type 2 diabetes. More people can have access to prevention methods. More people will have access to care. While friends may not be aware that they have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, the month itself will provide an opportunity to have that discussion, to let people know some of the symptoms of someone who might be in an insulin crisis and how to provide them with the help they need.
Our government has been supporting various measures. In 2016-17 alone, we invested $47 million in diabetes research. We recently announced a $30-million partnership with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. There are various members in the House who have helped to coordinate the multi-party caucus that led to this. It is not just those on this side of the House who are in favour of diabetes research.
When the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation comes to the Hill, members from all parties are present to listen to the stories of the ambassadors selected for their work in their cause across the country. It is great to meet those 10-year-olds, eight-year-olds, children of all ages who come from our ridings across the country to Parliament Hill to advocate for their cause. I am happy to participate with members on this side of the House, and I am sure that members from all sides of the House are happy to do so as well.
Also, in partnership with organizations in the private and non-profit sectors, as well as other levels of government, we are testing and scaling up interventions in communities across the country to prevent chronic disease, including diabetes. These interventions focus on common risk factors such as unhealthy eating and on physical activity.
Our government will continue to strongly support healthy living and diabetes prevention, including healthy eating, physical activity and smoking cessation. In thinking about my own health, I remember when the member for Brampton South had an opportunity to encourage some special medical testing on the Hill last year for members of Parliament, through the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
I had the opportunity to go to this mobile trailer, which provided heart rate monitoring, blood glucose level monitoring and a survey questionnaire, and members of Parliament who had a chance to participate had a deep dive into their health. The results of that were very interesting, and I learned a lot about what I could do to make myself healthier, but also how I could help my kids lead healthier lives as well. They are both far fitter than I am, and when we go jogging they are often about a minute a kilometre ahead of me, but they get me out. We also try to make sure we maintain an appropriate balance of carbohydrates, fats and proteins in our diet. I would like to thank the member for Brampton South for the opportunity to have that extra teaching here on the Hill.
According to the Canadian Chronic Disease Surveillance System, supported by the Public Health Agency of Canada, over three million Canadians, or 8.6% of the population, have diagnosed diabetes. Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the body loses its ability to produce or to properly use insulin, a hormone that controls blood glucose levels.
Canada is famous for its role in the early work on determining that lack of insulin is the cause of diabetes, as well as treatments to provide insulin to people who are suffering with diabetes so they can have that cure. Canada is the perfect place to recognize November as diabetes awareness month. It is probably long overdue; it probably should have happened at the same time when the cure was found.
I am thankful for the work of the member for Brampton South. I encourage all members of this House to support this private member's motion. It would provide Canada an opportunity to yet again raise public awareness, encourage additional research and funding for diabetes, and remember family members like Jimmy Grouchey, a family member of mine who passed away just over three years ago and who would be turning 50 next week.
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