Your guide to Canada’s national dementia strategy
On June 22, 2017, Canada committed to a national dementia strategy. The passing of Bill C-233, An Act respecting a national strategy for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, means the Government of Canada will address the overwhelming scale, impact and cost of dementia.
The Act not only brings Canada in line with many other countries around the world who have made dementia a priority, but also commits our government to action with definitive timelines, targets, reporting structures and measurable outcomes.
Read more below.
What is a national dementia strategy and what does it mean for you?
A national dementia strategy is the single most powerful tool to transform and elevate dementia care.
Common elements of dementia strategies focus on:
Quality of life
Better local management of dementia will mean that all Canadians living with dementia, their caregivers and their families will have access to the same level and quality of care, no matter where they live.
Existing programs and services can be more effective, focusing attention on priority areas.
Care providers will receive enhanced training and education.
Dementia research will be better coordinated, increasing the likelihood of a future without Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
Why do we need a national dementia strategy?
The experiences of countries with national dementia strategies show that coordinated, targeted efforts at the national level improves results for all aspects of dementia care and research.
As our population ages, a comprehensive strategy is vital to ensure that the growing number of Canadians living with dementia receive the care and support they deserve.
Consider the following
- More than half a million Canadians are living with dementia. By 2031, this number will nearly double. That’s less than 15 years away.
- Alzheimer’s disease, already the seventh-leading cause of death in Canada, will only continue to grow as a public health concern.
- The cost to care for those with dementia is currently estimated at $10.4 billion.
A national dementia strategy will ensure Canada is ready to meet this challenge, with a coordinated, focused approach to care and research.
Do we have a national dementia strategy now?
Not yet. In June 2017, Parliament passed a law that directed the Minister of Health to develop a national dementia strategy. The strategy itself is expected to be delivered by winter 2019.
While we do not yet have a strategy, progress has been made. In May 2018, the National Dementia Conference took place in Ottawa. Policy makers, people living with dementia, care partners, and stakeholders from across the country gathered to offer feedback and suggestions for Canada’s first national dementia strategy.
At the conference, Canada’s Minister of Health announced the members of the Ministerial Advisory Board on Dementia. The Board, which is co-chaired by Pauline Tardif, CEO of the Alzheimer Society of Canada, and Dr. William E. Reichman, President and CEO of Baycrest, will advise the Minister of Health on dementia care and on the progress of Canada’s national dementia strategy.
My province has a dementia strategy. Will it end now?
No. A national dementia strategy exists to coordinate resources, scale up best practices, and ensure equal levels of care across the country. It does not replace front-line health care, or fund pilot projects. Provincial plans will remain important tools, and a national dementia strategy will not replace them. Canada’s national dementia strategy will respect provincial jurisdiction over health care, and provinces will play a key role in developing and implementing the national strategy.
The majority of Canada’s provinces either have a dementia plan in place, or have taken steps to develop one. A national strategy will complement these provincial plans.
What is the Alzheimer Society doing?
The Alzheimer Society has long called for a national dementia strategy to enhance research efforts and ensure Canadians have access to quality care and support (read our 2019 pre-budget submission here). We join all Canadians affected by dementia in advocating for the implementation of Canada’s first national dementia strategy as soon as possible.