Could the Government help, please?

At the G8 dementia summit, the world's richest countries committed to develop a cure or treatment for dementia by 2025.

Unlike several countries in the G8, Canada does not yet have a national dementia strategy. Claude Gravelle, NDP MP for Nickel Belt, has sponsored a private member's bill, Bill C-356, to create a national dementia strategy.

The bill, Gravelle said, includes five pillars that would make up the national strategy: research, prevention, early detection, training for health care professionals and support for caregivers.

Gravelle's mother died of Alzheimer's Disease in 2003. "As far as I'm concerned, it's probably the worst disease you can have," he said. "We need to do something and we need to do something quickly."

Gravelle's colleague, Carol Hughes, NDP MP for Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing, also has firsthand experience with Alzheimer's Disease.

Hughes's sister was diagnosed at the age of 50.

"I understand what people are going through because I was actually the caregiver for my sister for some time," Hughes said.

Hughes said the government should change the employment insurance system to recognize caregivers like Annis may need to stay home, and outside the workforce, a bit longer.

Lorraine Leblanc, executive director of Alzheimer Society Sudbury Manitoulin, said organizations like hers need better government support, especially with the expected growth of dementia and its associated costs in Canada.

The Alzheimer Society Sudbury Manitoulin receives around 75 per cent of its funding from the North East Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), but must fundraise the remainder, which amounts to more than $300,000 per year.

“This is a really big challenge that we're faced with,” Leblanc said.

Reprinted with permission of Mark Gentili, editor of Northern Life.

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