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e-3698 (Health)

E-petition
Initiated by Camille Nicola Isaacs from Ville St-Laurent, Quebec

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Minister of Health

Whereas:
  • Dementia care costs in Canada were estimated at $12 billion in 2020 and projected to reach $16.6 billion by 2031;
  • Total out-of-pocket costs paid by caregivers were an estimated $1.4 billion in 2016 and projected to rise to nearly $2.4 billion in 2031;
  • The growth in the number of persons diagnosed and living with dementia represents an unsustainable trajectory with cases forecasted to amount to nearly 1 million by 2033; and
  • Disease prevention and health protection strategies must be a focus to reduce the trend.
We, the undersigned, Camille Isaacs Morell and Parsa Famili, Canadian citizens and residents, call upon the Minister of Health to:
1. Declare dementia prevention a national healthcare priority, and as part of the National Dementia Strategy, work with provincial governments to encourage the adoption of strategies to:
a) Reduce preventable diagnoses through the delivery of health promotion and disease prevention services such as public education programs with strong calls to action for screening and early detection;
b)Decelerate risks and symptoms through the deployment of a standardized national cognitive assessment test targeting at-risk groups; and
c) Reverse symptoms for persons with mild cognitive impairment by providing access to clinical trials financed by a dedicated public/private sector fund and by matched funding collected from private sector and non-government organizations.
2. Ensure training for medical staff to learn how to screen for symptoms and better manage dementia diagnoses.

Response by the Minister of Health

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Adam van Koeverden

The Government of Canada is committed to improving the lives of people living with dementia, their families and caregivers. In June 2019, the Government released Canada’s first national dementia strategy, A Dementia Strategy for Canada: Together We Aspire, which aims to understand dementia prevention and effective treatment, and to ensure that people living with dementia and caregivers feel valued, supported, and have an optimal quality of life. This goal is founded on the following national objectives:

  • Prevent dementia;
  • Advance therapies and find a cure; and,
  • Improve the quality of life of people living with dementia and their caregivers.

The national objective on preventing dementia aims to advance research to identify and assess modifiable risk and protective factors in dementia, and to build an evidence base to inform and promote the adoption of effective interventions, protective factors, and supporting measures that increase healthy living behaviours.

The national objective to improve the quality of life of people living with dementia and caregivers aims to promote and enable early diagnosis, as well as build the capacity of care providers, including through improved access to and adoption of evidence-based and culturally appropriate guidelines for standards of care. Several pillars have been identified as essential to the implementation of this strategy, one of which is having a skilled workforce that is well-equipped to pursue dementia research and provide quality dementia care.

Implementation of key elements of the national dementia strategy is supported by federal investments in awareness, guidance, surveillance, community based projects, as well as research and innovation. This includes an investment of $50 million over five years announced in 2019. Of this funding, $40 million is allocated towards the Dementia Strategic Fund, which supports activities that focus on increasing awareness of dementia, including the sharing of information related to reducing risk and addressing stigma, and initiatives that support access to and use of high-quality dementia guidance on topics such as prevention, person-centred care and emergency responses. Fifteen awareness projects are underway with additional projects expected to launch later in 2022. In addition, a national public education campaign with a focus on reducing stigma ran from January 17, 2022 to March 13, 2022 on television, digital platforms and newspapers across Canada. During this period, digital ads were shown 50.4 million times and user engagement revealed a total of 137,600 ad-clicks and 136,700 visits to the Canada.ca/dementia website. Additionally, two well-known spokespersons, Jay Ingram and François Morency, supported the campaign through media interviews and other activities. Their speaking tours resulted in 99 interviews and had a combined reach of over 21.5 million impressions across Canada. To further raise awareness regarding dementia in Canada, news articles and a radio segment on risk reduction and healthy lifestyle behaviours, as well as an animated video to help reduce stigma, have been available to media outlets since January 2021. These awareness raising products were integrated into local and national media channels with a reach of 15.5 million impressions across Canada between January 2021 and March 2022. The remaining $10 million of the $50 million announced in 2019 supports projects building on the Canadian Chronic Disease Surveillance System and exploring new surveillance approaches. The Enhanced Surveillance Data Initiative supports a better understanding of the various impacts of dementia in our communities, which can inform initiatives aiming to improve quality of life for people living with dementia and their caregivers.

Moreover, the Dementia Community Investment (DCI), with funding of $4 million per year, supports community-based projects focused on improving the wellbeing of people living with dementia and caregivers, and increasing knowledge of dementia, associated risk, and protective factors. Projects under the DCI contribute to the development and testing of a National Dementia-Friendly Toolkit to help educate and train diverse sector professionals (e.g. transportation, recreation, library), and the development of culturally appropriate resources for caregivers in select Inuit communities.

Additionally, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) supports research on dementia through a Budget 2022 commitment of $20 million over five years for dementia efforts, to learn more about dementia and brain health, to improve treatment and outcomes for persons living with dementia, and to evaluate and address mental health consequences for caregivers and different models of care. The Government supports and encourages the meaningful involvement of people living with dementia as well as families and caregivers as partners in research on dementia therapies and other areas of research. This is exemplified through Canada's Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR), led by CIHR in collaboration with partners across the country, which supports patients and caregivers to be active partners in health research, including people living with dementia. Patients and caregivers are identifying research priorities and helping to develop and test innovative diagnostic and therapeutic approaches at the point of care. Through a collaborative and stakeholder-partnered approach, SPOR builds capacity in patient-oriented research and promotes patient engagement, with the goal of improved health outcomes and an enhanced health care system.

In Canada, provinces and territories are responsible for the administration and delivery of health care, including dementia-related services provided in various contexts such as long-term care and home care. The Federal Government has worked collaboratively with provinces and territories on dementia through a federal, provincial and territorial Coordinating Committee on Dementia since 2017. This committee was instrumental in the development of the national dementia strategy and continues to share information and best practices related to its implementation. The Government is committed to ensuring seniors get the care they deserve, fostering aging at home, promoting age-friendly communities and increasing the resilience of long-term care facilities. Additionally, the Ministerial Advisory Board on Dementia, established in 2018, informs implementation and priority setting. This board includes individuals from federal, provincial and territorial governments, advocacy groups, health care professionals, people living with dementia and caregivers. Since 2019, an annual report to Parliament on Canada’s national dementia strategy has been prepared and all reports released to date are available on Canada.ca.

The successful implementation of Canada’s national dementia strategy relies on the efforts of many organizations and individuals across the country including federal, provincial, territorial and local governments, advocacy groups, researchers, health care providers and academics. The Government is committed to working collaboratively with people living with dementia and caregivers to ensure implementation is informed by their experience.

Open for signature
November 25, 2021, at 9:29 a.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
March 25, 2022, at 9:29 a.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Emmanuella Lambropoulos (Saint-Laurent)
May 10, 2022 (Petition No. 441-00428)
Government response tabled
June 21, 2022
Photo - Emmanuella Lambropoulos
Saint-Laurent
Liberal Caucus
Quebec
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