Bill 547: A National Alzheimer's Strategy

James Rajotte, Conservative MP for Edmonton Southwest, recently introduced Private Member Motion 574 on a National Alzheimer’s Strategy. A Private Members’ Motion typically proposes that the House declare its opinion on some topic or that the House order a certain course of action to be taken, either by the House itself or by one of its committees or officers. By contrast, a bill, which becomes law when passed, may have more far-reaching implications for the government. Furthermore, as M-574 is a health and health care related issue, any initiatives flowing from this motion must reflect the Canadian Parliament’s legislative jurisdiction.

He has written CARP members a letter asking for their support, to read Mr. Rajotte’s letter to CARP members, please click here

Mr. Rajotte’s motion, then, envisions a three-pronged approach to establishing a national Alzheimer’s and related dementia strategy:

1. Research: Build on the current $176 million investment by the government through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research on Alzheimer’s disease. While Alzheimer’s is currently irreversible, more research (e.g. biomedical, clinical, quality of life, health services and knowledge translation) will lead to new and more effective responses.

2. Prevention: Prevention is a cost-effective investment. It is estimated that a 50% increase in the level of physical activity by Canadians over 65 years would result in substantial reductions in the incidence of Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

Prevention and research combined could delay the onset of Alzheimer’s, which would reduce both the number of new cases by 400,000 and their cumulative cost by $219 billion over the next 30 years.

3. Support for patients and their families: With demand for long-term care projected to outpace the availability of space, more and more care will be provided informally in the home. The government has taken steps in the right direction; Canadians have access to compassionate care benefits under the employment insurance system. The CPP and QPP also pay disability, survivor and children’s benefits to those who qualify. The Income Tax Act provides for a caregiver amount tax credit, a tax credit for infirm dependents and a medical expenses tax credit. However, the government should be cognizant of other possibilities through new programs and services to support caregivers. Possibilities could include better access to information and educational resources, the creation of new financial supports for patients and caregivers, and continued support for non-profit groups that provide assistance.

To read the House Debate on M-574, click here

Keywords: prevention, healthcare, mental impairment, caregivers, research