02/20/2012 03:43 EST | Updated 04/21/2012 05:12 EDT

Taking Action Against Diabetes

As the Chair of the Standing Committee on Health, I am concerned about the growing incidence of diabetes in Canada. About 2.4 million Canadians have already been diagnosed with diabetes, and many more are unaware they have the disease. It's a health problem that, if not managed properly, can lead to serious complications like heart disease and stroke, blindness, chronic kidney disease, nervous system damage, and amputation.

Diabetes is also a complex health problem that cannot be addressed effectively by any single agency or sector of society. However, it can often be prevented or delayed by adopting a healthier lifestyle. This includes maintaining a healthy weight, getting regular physical activity, and choosing healthy foods.

Type 2 diabetes accounts for between 90 and 95 per cent of all cases in Canada. It's higher among people who are overweight or obese, physically inactive and of certain ethnic populations.

The Government of Canada is committed to helping Canadians recognize their risk of developing diabetes and understand how to manage the disease. We are working with key organizations to help prevent diabetes, and to improve the lives of those who have or who may develop diabetes.

We can help those who are most at risk of developing diabetes by making them aware of practical ways they can prevent or delay the onset of diabetes. And if we reach them sooner, we can help reduce the harm that diabetes complications can cause.

That is why our Government invests $18 million a year for the Canadian Diabetes Strategy. It focuses on prevention, early detection, and management of diabetes. We also invest in type 1 and 2 diabetes research through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Last November, the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, the Minister of Health, announced $6 million in funding, through the Canadian Diabetes Strategy, for 37 new community-based projects across the country.

These projects will support programs to detect diabetes early, as well as programs to help people manage their diabetes. The Canadian Diabetes Association, for example, will use its funding for a project called "Transforming materials for people with diabetes." The goal of this project is to develop resources for health care providers and people at high-risk of diabetes.

By collaborating with the CDA and 36 other groups across the country, we can reach people we might not have been able to reach otherwise.

Also in November, our Government launched the Canadian Diabetes Risk Questionnaire to help Canadians understand the risk factors for type 2 diabetes. By understanding the risks, CANRISK can help Canadians make the right choices to protect their health, by choosing to lower their weight, eat a healthy, balanced diet, and increase exercise.

The federal, provincial and territorial governments have also devised an action plan to address many of the issues that have led to type 2 diabetes being diagnosed at increasingly younger ages. The plan is called Curbing Childhood Obesity: A Federal/Provincial/Territorial Framework for Action to Promote Healthy Weights.

We are also working with a variety of partners to find new ways to prevent diabetes. We support an Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative for more than 600 First Nations and Inuit communities, and we are investing in diabetes research through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Our Government is committed to protecting Canadian families. We all know someone in our family who has diabetes, and this support will help those we hold dear. That's why we are working with key organizations and stakeholders to help prevent diabetes, and to improve the lives of those who have or who may develop diabetes.

Together with our partners, we are working to improve the lives of Canadians who have or who may develop diabetes.