As Ontarians get ready for a provincial election this June, Diabetes Canada is launching its own advocacy campaign that shines a light on one of the most challenging health-care crisis of our time. A new advocacy campaign is asking voters and candidates to take action to help end the epidemic that sees another Ontarian diagnosed with the disease every six minutes. The majority of Canadians affected by diabetes live in Ontario. That’s 4.3 million people, at a cost of $1.5 billion annually to the Ontario health-care system. By 2028, a staggering 5.3 million people in Ontario will have diabetes or prediabetes.
People from across the province have already signed up to participate in the advocacy campaign in helping to raise awareness about the impact of the chronic and sometimes life-threatening disease. "I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes when I was 16 years old, over 40 years ago and every day since then, I've worried about complications such as amputation and blindness, and if they will catch up to me,” says Charlene Lavergne, resident of Oshawa. “I often have to choose between food and medications as I am on disability and have a very limited drug plan. Even the co-pay is often beyond my budget. Every month I worry about whether I'll be able to afford the insulin I need,” says Lavergne.
Diabetes is a costly condition, even when people are eligible for various provincial support programs. One solution, that Diabetes Canada recommends, is to reduce deductibles associated with publicly funded programs to make medications, devices and supplies less expensive and more accessible, especially for working-aged adults.
Diabetes Canada is also looking for public-funding of continuous glucose monitoring systems (CGMs). Severe low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) can be a fatal complication of diabetes. It can cause confusion, seizure and comas, and is particularly dangerous when individuals are asleep. CGMs have the potential to prevent life-threatening emergencies, but the devices are expensive, putting them out of reach for many people who need them the most.
“As a mom of a child living with type 1 diabetes, I am committed to doing everything within my power to provide him with the best possible care and, ultimately, to protect his life,” says . Rachel Moon Kelly, Cobourg resident. “However, we face the reality that the cost of the CGM is a significant financial strain and, for many families living with type 1 diabetes, it is quite simply completely out of reach.”
People can visit http://www.diabetes.ca/VoteDiabetesON to learn about the growing prevalence of diabetes and its impact and to directly contact all three Ontario political party leaders and election candidates to let them know that prevention, management and ending diabetes is important to them. As Ontarians share their personal views about diabetes they are also encouraged to invite candidates to join them and Diabetes Canada in publicly pledging to act to end the chronic disease which affects children, adults and families no matter where they live in the province. Candidates are also encouraged to visit the website and engage with the public and Diabetes Canada on social media channels to learn about diabetes and pledge their support using the hashtag #VoteDiabetesON.
Despite the shocking data about diabetes prevalence and economic costs, there are solutions that, if implemented, can go a long way to end diabetes. “Our goal is to give a voice and dialogue to the silent epidemic of diabetes and to Ontarians that are affected by or at risk of diabetes,” says Amanda Thambirajah, director of Government Relations with Diabetes Canada. “The health of Ontarians is an important election issue. The high prevalence of diabetes combined with the fact that it can also lead to other chronic conditions such as heart and kidney disease, blindness and limb amputation, can’t be ignored. This epidemic is also why Diabetes Canada is calling for a renewed Ontario Diabetes Strategy that sets aggressive targets and goals to help improve health outcomes for people with diabetes and people at risk of developing the disease.”
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