Liberal MP Sonia Sidhu is celebrating a win this holiday weekend as her private member’s bill, C-237, An Act to Establish a National Framework for Diabetes, became law on Tuesday. The bill “requires the Minister of Health to create and report to Parliament on a national framework to defeat diabetes.”
Eleven million Canadians live with diabetes and pre-diabetes. The disease develops when a person’s body is unable to produce or use insulin, the hormone that controls glucose levels in the blood.
According to Diabetes Canada, a national health charity, diabetes complications are associated with premature death, and contribute to strokes, heart attacks, kidney failure, renal disease, and non-traumatic lower-limb amputations. In 2019, Diabetes Canada reported that costs to treat diabetes were increasing, and, in that year alone, the cost to taxpayers was about $30 billion.
“I am so happy,” Sidhu told iPolitics on Friday. “This is not just my win, but a win for all Canadians.”
Before being elected to Parliament in 2015, Sidhu spent 18 years working in health care, where she met many people suffering from diabetes and its serious health complications. After arriving on the Hill, she began approaching her fellow parliamentarians about what Ottawa could do about the growing health problem.
In 2016, an all-party caucus of 85 MPs was formed. The group, chaired by Sidhu, who’s also on the House Health committee, meets twice a year to hear from diabetes patients and experts in the field.
In the process of drafting her legislation, Sidhu said she invited suggestions from her House mates. “It was hard,” she said. “Colleagues across all parties and in the Senate are either personally impacted by this disease, or they know someone with this disease. It is a very important issue.”
Bill C-237 requires the Health minister to meet with her provincial and territorial counterparts, Indigenous communities, and stakeholders, and to develop within one year a national framework designed to support better access to diabetes prevention and treatment to ensure better health outcomes for Canadians. A report must be tabled by next July, and, within five years, the Health minister must submit a report on the framework’s effectiveness.
The bill also requires that the framework “identify the training and education needs of health-care professionals related to diabetes,” as well as promote research and improve the collection of data on diabetes prevention.