April 1, 2015
Honourable senators, April 1 marks the beginning of Parkinson’s Awareness Month, a month-long celebration across Canada to recognize the Parkinson’s community. Representatives from Parkinson Society Canada are in Ottawa this week meeting with policy-makers and legislators to discuss how we might build upon our current models of support and care for individuals and families living with Parkinson’s disease.
This year, Parkinson Society Canada is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary of dedication to Parkinson’s issues. The announcement that Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada will be adding Parkinson’s disease to the Canadian Chronic Disease Surveillance System is an exciting development for the Parkinson’s community. It will allow researchers, medical practitioners and policymakers to access a wide range of substantive data to help to make evidence-based decisions when addressing the community’s needs.
Parkinson’s is caused by a loss of dopamine in the brain, leading to a number of motor and non-motor symptoms that include tremors, slowness of movement and difficulty with balance and walking, depression, sleep disturbances and cognitive changes. As you can imagine, the needs of the men and women affected by Parkinson’s are extensive and require thoughtful consideration from legislators, health program innovators and community care planners.
According to the recent publication of Neurological Health Charities Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada, entitled Mapping Connections: An understanding of neurological conditions in Canada, the number of Canadians affected by Parkinson’s will double by 2031. If so, this creates some urgency to address the needs of the Parkinson’s community. As they have since 1965, Parkinson Society Canada will continue to work through education, advocacy and support services to create a better life for those living with Parkinson’s today and through research to see a world without Parkinson’s tomorrow.
Honourable senators, Canadians are relying on our leadership to make strong, evidence-based policy decisions that will help individuals affected by complex neurological conditions to have the best possible quality of life.