Statement by CALTC re: Defeat of Bill C-356

Statement by Candace Chartier, Chair of the Board of the Canadian Alliance for Long Term Care on the defeat of Bill C-356, the National Strategy for Dementia Act

The Canadian Alliance for Long Term Care (CALTC) is disappointed by the defeat on Bill C-356 in the House of Commons late last week. Passage of the Bill would have meant support for the creation of a truly national, nonpartisan dementia strategy for Canada – a strategy that could have engaged all parties both federal and provincial, as well as researchers, medical experts and people providing care across the continuum. The strategy envisioned by the Bill could also as Dr. Chris Simpson, President of the Canadian Medical Association pointed out, “introduce benchmarks, standards of care, as well as time frames.” In short it could have brought much needed structure to address common issues and shared goals at the national level.

CALTC members deliver quality care to vulnerable adults across Canada every day. Our members know firsthand the unique challenges of providing effective, high quality care to people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias – over 60 per cent of their long term care residents have the diagnosis. That is why we fully support the development of a comprehensive national dementia strategy. It is worth noting that a 2013 Nanos survey found that 83 per cent of Canadians believe such a plan is needed.

While the proposed legislation failed to become law it is vital that we not lose the momentum that it has inspired. On behalf of members of CALTC, I urge the federal government to reconsider its position by committing to a national or pan-Canadian dementia strategy that is both comprehensive and inclusive — one that delivers on the key elements set out by Mr. Gravelle, MP for Nickel Belt (early diagnosis and prevention; research; quality care across the continuum – from home, the community and residential care; and training for health workers providing care to people living with dementia) and engages federal, provincial and territorial representatives, experts in the diagnosis and treatment of dementias, as well as care providers from the home, community and long term care sectors.

Last October I wrote to Minister Ambrose to express our appreciation for her promise to develop a national strategy and to request a meeting to discuss the expertise and support that CALTC and its members from across the country could contribute to the strategy. I once again call upon the Minister to meet with CALTC members and to adopt a more broad and inclusive approach to the development of a dementia strategy. In the meantime we will continue working at the provincial and national levels to ensure the voices of our members and their residents are heard.

CALTC is federally incorporated and the leading voice representing long term care providers that deliver publicly-funded health care services to seniors across Canada. CALTC members represent long term care homes that deliver quality care to Canada’s most vulnerable seniors every day.