The figures are alarming: according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, more than 419,000 people in Canada over the age of 65 have dementia. With the ageing of the population, forecasts even predict 20% more by 2030. Two-thirds of those affected are women.
Faced with this disturbing finding, Ottawa has decided to react. On June 17, 2019, Federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor presented the first dementia strategy for Canada. “We need to improve the quality of life for people with this condition,” she declared. The stated objectives are clear: “Preventing dementia, advancing therapies, finding a cure, supporting patients and caregivers.”
The same care for all
Until now, diseases related to dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s disease, have not benefited from any federally orchestrated action plan. But certain provinces have taken steps for better prevention of this disease (Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Alberta and British Colombia). This strategy will provide all Canadians with dementia the same access to services.
$50 million in five years
An envelope of $50 million has been announced for the next five years. This budget will be mainly allocated to research. The strategy should also provide better training for all stakeholders. This funding is in addition to the 2018 budget envelope ($20 million over five years and $4 million per year thereafter for community investment), set out on the day Ottawa announced it.
There will be impacts on employment. Without citing specific figures, the strategy provides for “workforce planning to ensure that the number and type of care providers are adequate to meet the needs”.
This plan of attack has long been awaited by health care professionals and affected families. “There is an urgent need to train health care staff for this disease and to prepare society for the challenge of Alzheimer’s,” said Nouha Ben Gaied, the director of research and development at the Quebec Federation of Alzheimer Societies.
Finally, this strategy is the opportunity to “raise public awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and all forms of dementia,” continues Nouha Ben Gaied, “in order to eliminate the still widespread discrimination that surrounds these diseases.”