Statements & Speeches

Diabetes Month

November 17, 2011

Honourable senators, I will take a moment to address a health problem that is as prevalent as it is damaging. November is Diabetes Month in Canada, and it is important to understand the impact diabetes mellitus has on our society.

Diabetes is a chronic disease, actually a group of metabolic diseases, that affects the pancreas. The result is that the body cannot produce enough insulin or that the cells do not respond to the insulin produced.

There are an estimated nine million people living with diabetes or pre-diabetes in Canada. Ten per cent of these live with type 1 diabetes, generally diagnosed in childhood or adolescence. Most of the other 90 per cent live with type 2 diabetes, diagnosed later in life and linked to a number of risk factors, including weight, family history and lifestyle. Type 2 diabetes can be minimized and managed through education programs that promote the benefits of healthy diet and exercise, for example. The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is so great, yet the solution to minimizing it may be rather simple.

Honourable senators, the Canadian Diabetes Association estimates that every year seven million people develop diabetes or pre-diabetes worldwide. If we do not focus on prevention, these numbers will continue to increase. Why? Because the population is aging, obesity is more prevalent and Canadian lifestyles are increasingly sedentary.

In 2030, an estimated 438 million people worldwide will have some form of diabetes, and 80 per cent of people with diabetes will die as a result of heart disease or stroke. Other complications may occur, including blindness, kidney failure and nerve damage. By 2020, diabetes will cost the health care system an estimated $16.9 billion annually.

Honourable senators, I ask you to take the time to recognize Diabetes Month. If someone you know lives with diabetes, please consider hosting a fundraising activity for the Canadian Diabetes Association. Founded in 1953 by Dr. Charles Best, a medical scientist and one of the co-discoverers of insulin, the Canadian Diabetes Association helps people with diabetes live healthy lives and supports research directed towards a cure. The association values volunteers and donations, and I am asking you to take the time to discover their new My Fundraiser program by visiting their website.

Find out how you can help by going to, click on the My Fundraiser link and make a difference in the lives of so many Canadians living with this disease.