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BC FORUM News - from the Autumn 2017 issue of The Advocate

Parliament approves private member’s bill for a dementia plan

The devil will be in the details as we monitor how the federal government implements a national strategy on dementia

After years of advocacy by patient advocates, the labour movement, BC FORUM and many other groups, the House of Commons has passed a private member’s bill to develop a national dementia strategy. The bill was given royal assent on June 22, coincidentally the day after BC FORUM delegates adopted a strong resolution on the issue.

While the legislation makes Canada the 30th nation to develop a plan, much remains to be done to implement the initiative. Private member’s bills cannot include financial commitments. This means the ball is now squarely in the federal government’s court.

The scale of the problem is staggering. There are currently 747,000 Canadians living with cognitive impairment. This number is expected to double to 1.4 million by 2031. It is estimated that the cost of dementia – combining health care and lost earnings – is now $33 billion a year. A Senate report predicts this will increase dramatically to $293 billion a year by 2040.

BC FORUM has noted that Canada is ill-prepared to deal with these staggering costs.

Delegates to this year’s annual general meeting called for:

• Increased funding for research into all aspects of dementia.

• Initiatives to promote early diagnosis and intervention.

• Strengthened integration of primary, home and community care.

• Enhanced skills training for workers who care for people with dementia patients.

• Recognition of the needs of family caregivers and improved support for them.

Real action to help the individuals and families struggling with dementia will require significant funding. NDP MP Don Davies, whose party first proposed a national dementia strategy, hopes the federal government will provide more money to care for those who have the illness, rather than siphoning money from other people who need services such as home care.

A national dementia strategy should be implemented with money from a separate envelope, he said. As we have in the past, BC FORUM will continue to closely monitor federal and provincial action (or inaction) that affects older and retired workers and our families, including their treatment of people with dementia.

Related: Seniors’ Advocate says caregivers are in distress.

 

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