We Need a National Eye Care Strategy

A national eye care strategy, Bill C-284, was tabled in the House of Commons this past summer. The bill, if passed, will commit the government to a national strategy related to eye care and vision loss. The strategy will envision: i) eye health prevention plans, ii) improved access to eye care, and iii) investments in research to find new treatments to prevent and stop blindness.

One of CARP’s pillars of advocacy is equitable access to health care.  Currently, access to eye care varies widely from province to province, resulting in variable health outcomes, and exacerbating inequalities in our health care system.

In March 2022, The World Health Organization (WHO) launched a guide on eyecare, Universal Health Coverage and Eye Care: Promoting Country Action.  One of the primary steps includes developing an eye care strategy.  The WHO writes, “Implementing integrated people-centred eye care has the potential to…produce huge benefits for the economy, gender equity, inclusion, education and the workplace.

At the end of 2021, studies ranked high-income countries on organizing and delivering healthcare.  Canada was ranked 10 among 11 countries[1] on healthcare systems performance ratings.

Bill C-284 offers an opportunity to do better in our eye and vision healthcare delivery.

Canadians have gone without a comprehensive national plan for vision health for far too long. One in five Canadians suffer from an eye disease that can lead to blindness. If diagnosed early and if people have access to treatment, blindness can be prevented in 75% of cases. According to a recent report by Deloitte Access Economics, cost of vision loss to economy both directly and indirectly was 33 billion in 2019 and projected to be 56 million by 2050.

Canadians need Bill C-284 in order to ensure equitable and quality eyecare in Canada, and to save the Canadian health system and citizens greater costs down the road.

We urge you to support the bill as we do.  Together we can build momentum for the bill and see it passed into law. Contact your elected officials to let them know you are in support of the bill.