The bill was re-introduced yesterday. The Hansard is available here: and below:
HEALTH & WELLNESS - DIABETES: MANAGEMENT
MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health and Wellness. Earlier this week, the Canadian Diabetes Association issued another warning call to government that diabetes is at epidemic proportions and failing to respond will impact future generations and severely threaten the sustainability of our health care system. Nova Scotia is definitely being swept up in this epidemic. The report, titled Canada at the Tipping Point - Charting a New Path, indicates that Nova Scotia ranks close to the top when it comes to diabetes’ prevalence but very near the bottom when it comes to approving drugs and devices to better manage the disease.
I think we would all agree that making improvements so we can reverse these rankings will not only benefit those with diabetes, it will go a long way to curbing the rising costs of health care. My question to the minister is, what plan does the minister have to ensure Nova Scotia does a better job at managing diabetes?
HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for an excellent question. Our Better Care Sooner plan will contribute to improvements in chronic disease management. That’s the whole point of having good primary care teams available in the communities, readily accessible to people, so that they can get to see them before conditions deteriorate to the point that they need more intense interventions in acute care settings.
Additionally, it is our plan - and the member will have seen this in the budget - to have chronic disease management work done in this year. Some money has been allocated for that and, of course, our childhood obesity strategy will be looking at the health of children who are increasingly confronted with the disease of diabetes.
MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, to the minister, I think that it is important that under the Chronic Disease Management plan, the incidence of diabetes be looked at specifically and the benefit of the insulin pumps be looked at. I think that that’s a key component.
It is estimated that the hospitalization costs related to diabetes in Nova Scotia cost our health care system $38 million a year and the total cost of managing diabetes is much higher. If we’re able to prevent hospitalizations through better disease management, we’re going to save the health care system money. My question to the minister is, can the minister please confirm whether she has been made aware of any plans in her own department to fund insulin pumps, starting with children under the age of 18?
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I know we’ll have an opportunity to debate this further with a bit more detail following Question Period and I’m looking forward to participating in that. There are many things that we can do to improve the management of diabetes and we will be looking at all of those various components as we work on the childhood obesity strategy and I will be happy to share those initiatives with members when we have fully developed those initiatives.
MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, the minister is talking about the childhood obesity strategy and that is one measure of prevention but we’re talking about management of the disease. Not all diabetics have any problem with obesity. So we have to be careful not to lump those two things together.
Mr. Speaker, in Nova Scotia we have a Diabetic Care Program which provides a network of diabetic care centres across the province and would provide an excellent platform for implementing an insulin pump program. In fact, we’re in an enviable position compared to other provinces in this regard. So my question to the minister is, when will the minister commit to the creation of a diabetic management plan in Nova Scotia which would include the provision of insulin pumps?
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would remind all members during Question Period that all electronic devices are to be turned off at all times and I would appreciate it if everybody would adhere to those rules, please. Thank you.
The honourable Minister of Health and Wellness.
MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, with respect to insulin pumps, Nova Scotia is one of probably five or six provinces that do not provide coverage for insulin pumps. Right now a very small number of our provinces, our larger provinces have some coverage, but they don’t have universal coverage. They have small programs and we certainly are monitoring the impact in those provinces of those programs. If the honourable member has any information that indicates that there are cost savings, that it does result in fewer hospitalizations, I would be very interested in seeing that information. Because as of yet my understanding is that information has not been generated by the provinces that, in fact, do have the insulin pumps.
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HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 134
Res. No. 134, re Diabetes: Action Plan - Support - notice given Apr. 4/11 - (Ms. D. Whalen)
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park
MS. DIANA WHALEN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It’s my pleasure to rise today, on behalf of the Liberal caucus, to discuss Resolution No. 134. I would like to read the operative clause in that resolution and that is:
“Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislature recognize the devastating impact of diabetes on individuals and our health care system and call on government to follow the lead of New Brunswick by outlining a diabetic action plan in our province starting with funding for insulin pumps.”
Madam Speaker, as you know, today we had a question in Question Period about insulin pumps and the minister was able to answer and say that she is looking for evidence that insulin pumps save money, or that insulin pumps are effective in stopping or decreasing hospitalization and emergency room visits.
I would suggest that in the last couple of days the minister has received many letters and e-mails from Nova Scotians who have told us their stories - I know I’ve received them and the Health Critic for the Progressive Conservative Party as well has been receiving these letters. People are telling us of their personal experience with the pumps.
I have heard from a number of families where they can actually tell you their visits to emergency rooms are down; their security in managing the disease is up; their lifestyle is improved; and their children are able to have a fuller, more confident experience at school and in the community because they have that confidence of knowing that they have an insulin pump that is helping them - not doing everything, but helping them to manage the disease more effectively.
So I think it’s important that we acknowledge the efforts of Nova Scotians to explain to us what it means to live with diabetes and what it means, in the long run, to the province as well.
The facts, of course, were in the report I mentioned that was just released by the Canadian Diabetes Association. It was called At the Tipping Point, the tipping point on diabetes. In that report they laid out what the current effects are, really, of not managing the disease properly. Number one, I thought in terms of importance to Nova Scotia, was that we are close to the very bottom when it comes to managing the disease through medications, devices, and supplies. We are also near the very top when it comes to the incidence or prevalence of diabetes in this province.
Now I think it’s important during this debate to note that the side effects of failing to properly manage the disease include heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, non-traumatic limb amputation, and depression. Those costs are significant to every province in this country, but particularly here in Nova Scotia where the numbers are high. The cost to treat these side effects, Madam Speaker, is much higher than the cost to government to try and prevent them in the first place, by giving Nova Scotians all of the available tools that they can have to manage the disease successfully.
Let’s be very clear, Madam Speaker, that having access to insulin pumps is an investment for the province; it’s an investment in good health; and it’s an investment in the Nova Scotians themselves and their families who are struggling to look after this disease, knowing full well what the costs will be if they don’t. They understand the implications and they’re working hard to manage that disease.
I’ve been struck by the depth of - I guess how strongly this affects families. I had a chance last year to talk to a young woman whose son was just diagnosed with diabetes, just as he was entering Primary. Her description of their sleepless nights and having to get up and check their blood levels at a regular time, and their constant vigilance, their charting and recording every bit of food and exercise and always testing - it’s a very overpowering thing, especially for a family newly diagnosed, and where they have a child just diagnosed, they have a huge adjustment to make.
I can tell you, they look to the technology around insulin pumps as a way to help them manage and a way to bring back a level of normalcy into their lives. I think that’s very important for us not to forget, but again I go back to the savings - and if we can help those people, all people, manage the disease better we know we are going to prevent some very serious complications in the future.
Last year, or the year before, at the diabetes dinner that the MLAs were invited to a young man in his 30s was speaking and talking about the difficulty - in fact the age that seems to be the most difficult managing is early adulthood, and that’s when young people leave home and they are at university or away working and they no longer have their parents helping them to manage it, and it’s a time that often the disease goes out of control.
There is a lot for us to learn about how and why insulin pumps would help a great deal and we’ve heard people like George Canyon talking and lobbying, an advocate on behalf of diabetics because he’s also someone who has benefited from being able to afford an insulin pump.
We’re here today really to call on the government to look at the passage of Bill No. 11. Call it for debate, we’d like to see that it is given the attention that it deserves, so that we can discuss here in the province whether or not this is a component of the good management of diabetes in Nova Scotia - and we believe it is.
New Brunswick, referenced in our resolution today, the Government of New Brunswick despite having a $446 million deficit, that budget this year - they just tabled that a week or so ago, and I think it’s important to all members of the House - in their budget under the category of Managing Spending Growth they see the introduction of insulin pumps, their funding of insulin pumps, as a way to mange spending growth. So they’ve made the connection, they’ve connected the dots between providing insulin pumps to the people who need it and can’t afford it or don’t have private coverage, and have seen that they will ultimately have a reduction in spending needs in the health care area.
So I think that’s very important - they have actually included this as an investment in the Comprehensive Diabetes Strategy and they are focusing, they say in the New Brunswick budget, on prevention, deduction, and management of the disease, including the funding of insulin pumps.
We took a lot of comfort and a lot of excitement to see New Brunswick, our neighbouring province, take that step, Madam Speaker. New Brunswick is now joining Newfoundland in the funding of insulin pumps. Statistics here in Nova Scotia, Madame Speaker, speak to the need and they speak very loudly - over 87,000 Nova Scotians have been diagnosed with diabetes.
And I’d like at this point just to mention briefly about the obesity strategy that the minister mentioned during Question Period, and just make it very clear that that strategy does not affect the type 1 diabetics that we’re talking about here that are really the candidates for the insulin pumps. That is a type 2 diabetic, it’s a very different disease and I don’t think that it does a good service to the people who are struck with type 1 diabetes to suggest that an obesity management would be an answer, so I would just like to make that point.
The prevalence rate, to go back to some of the statistics in our province, of this disease has increased in excess of 20 per cent in the last five years here in Nova Scotia, and type 1 diabetes rates are rising 3 per cent to 5 per cent every year across the country.
Sadly, the greatest rise is occurring in children age five to nine. For young children, the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes requires constant monitoring - as I said, a real interruption to lifestyle. I have the figures on how many needles - it says on average 1,460 needles a year, 2,190 pokes to the finger a year to test blood sugars. It’s very, very intrusive, Madam Speaker.
As I said the cost to individuals is very high and I hope the minister will look very, very squarely at the cost to individuals who can’t afford this because it’s the lucky ones who have it in their health plans or have the personal means or can make the personal sacrifices to find the money.
It’s an expensive proposition for an individual to make, and yet we are seeing families making tremendous sacrifices in order to be able to shoulder that financial burden and be able to get an insulin pump for their children.
What we’d like to suggest and even call on the government to look at is if you would call Bill No. 11, which was introduced today, and even consider amending it. If you don’t want to pass a bill that would suggest that we look at insulin pumps and have them funded, perhaps we can start in some steps, some baby steps or some gradual phasing-in that would start with children and start with those families that have no coverage for insulin pumps. If we could even do it that way, the cost would be greatly mitigated and this year alone we’re looking at costs (Interruption) Yes?
MADAM SPEAKER: The member’s time has elapsed.
MS. WHALEN: Thank you very much. I look forward to the other speakers.
MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health and Wellness.
HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: I thank the honourable member for bringing forward this particular item to the floor this evening for an opportunity to talk about, I think, an issue that is of great importance to all members in this House. I would imagine that all of the members here know someone living with diabetes, and in the debate we had last time on this topic I indicated that I certainly, in my own family, have people who are living with diabetes, and indeed children with type 1 diabetes, and I’ve known very many people in our community - and I related the story about a young, single mom who did a field placement in my constituency office, my MLA office.
I want to reiterate the admiration that I have particularly for families with children with type 1 diabetes and the challenges that they face, particularly around the diagnosis, when that first occurs, and then all of the milestones in the lives of their children, you know, as they go to perhaps a daycare centre, as they enter the school system, as they become young adults and all of the challenges that that posed in their teenage years. So I do very much recognize the added demands that living with diabetes will place on parents and on a family as they parent and as they support their children through the various stages of life.
According to the Diabetes Care Program of Nova Scotia, we have 10 per cent of the adult population in Nova Scotia living with diabetes and this percentage increases to 25 per cent of adults over the age of 75 - one in four. It indeed places a very heavy burden on our population and on our health care system and on the networks, the support networks. There currently are estimated 750 children and youth with diabetes under the age of 19 in Nova Scotia, of which 35 per cent are currently using pump therapy to manage their diabetes. I recognize, and I think we all recognize, that insulin pumps are being used more and more for children with type 1 diabetes, and honourable members know that these devices are used to administer insulin.
I had an opportunity after the new year to meet with George Canyon, whom I’m sure we’re all great fans of, in terms of not only his music, but what a great ambassador he is for our province and, as he said to me and the Premier, although he resides in another province he considers Nova Scotia his home and he never misses an opportunity to make sure that people he meets know that. (Applause) As you know, he is an ambassador for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. We met with him and a representative from the manufacturer of insulin pumps to talk about the benefits that he has experienced as an individual who lives with diabetes, and what a great advantage it has been to him in terms of improving his lifestyle and helping him manage his disease. So I very much appreciated that opportunity.
Nova Scotia is one of six provinces - perhaps five provinces now with New Brunswick looking at covering insulin pumps. I’m not entirely sure of how extensive their program is, but it’s certainly something I will look into. Perhaps we can learn from them, particularly if they are initiating a program with a view to having it help them, not only in terms of managing the disease, but improving the financial impact on their health care system. That is certainly something that I will explore more fully.
Staff in the Department of Health and Wellness and the Diabetes Care Program of Nova Scotia have been exploring insulin pump coverage and they have completed a scan to determine the type and level of financial assistance being provided in other provinces. The program has consulted with stakeholders, including clinicians, subject matter experts, and patient families. We do look very carefully at research on the clinical and the cost effectiveness of insulin pump therapy. As yet, no decisions have been made, but certainly when decisions are made they will be made on the basis of the clinical evidence.
In these times, health care dollars are scarce and because of the limited dollars available, we want to make sure that we are spending our money wisely, that we are getting a real benefit from the investments that we make in our health care system. I understand that, certainly for a certain group of patients with type 1 diabetes, there is a clinical value to having insulin pumps and they can be cost effective. So if the evidence is there, then this is the type of information that we are interested in learning about and making decisions based on.
I want to acknowledge the EMILY Fund, a registered Nova Scotia charity. I want all members of this House to be aware of this fund, if you’re not already aware of this fund. It provides one-time financial assistance for children from our province, and from P.E.I. as well, who could benefit from the use of an insulin pump but could not otherwise afford it. I had correspondence from a spokesperson for this fund and it is quite phenomenal the amount of money that they’ve not only raised, but they’ve distributed in terms of helping children with type 1 diabetes get access to insulin pumps who otherwise would not have had access because their parents would not perhaps have had the means or a plan. This fund is there and they have helped a very significant number of children in our province get access to insulin pumps.
I want to say, though, that insulin pumps are only a small answer to a large and complex health care issue. In Nova Scotia we have worked with health care partners to develop other answers and we will continue to do that. We are near the top in Canada for rates of diabetes and we have to do more on the prevention side as well as on the management side. I’m pleased that the budget that was tabled yesterday does, in fact, have measures to deal with better management, as well as moving in the direction of providing us with more opportunities to prevent this disease.
With those few remarks, I know that we could discuss this for a much longer time and perhaps we’ll have an opportunity to do that in the future. Thank you, Madam Speaker.
MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.
HON. CHRISTOPHER D’ENTREMONT: Thank you. It’s my pleasure to stand and speak for a few moments on the resolution I brought forward today during Opposition Day, Resolution No. 134. I want to thank a number of individuals in the gallery today who are sitting very attentively, listening very closely to the comments made by all members in this House and understanding the importance of diabetic care in this province. But there’s the issue that this is just an Opposition resolution that really has no binding impact upon the decisions of government. It is still the NDP Government that we see before us today that have to make a decision of one way or another on how they’re going to move forward in supporting issues like insulin pumps for Nova Scotians.
By any measure diabetes is a significant and growing problem for Nova Scotians and for government. Nova Scotia has the second oldest population, the lowest median family income, the third highest rates for overweight and obesity. You might say that we have the perfect storm for diabetes. Our pre-diabetes prevalence is one of the highest in Canada - all of these risk factors may contribute to diabetes prevalence in the province that is higher than the national average.
There are 87,000 Nova Scotians estimated to have diabetes in 2010 and that number is expected to balloon to 125,000 by 2020. The Diabetes Care Program annual report tells us that 4,000 Nova Scotians were diagnosed with diabetes in 2009-10 alone. The estimated cost of diabetes last year was $383 million - this is astounding - a figure that is expected to grow to $483 million over the next 10 years if it’s left unchecked. That’s a $100 million increase over 10 years, a huge financial problem for the Department of Health and Wellness.
People in Nova Scotia living with diabetes also face significant financial hardship. A Bedford woman was quoted in the Canadian Diabetes Association’s recently released study, entitled Diabetes: Canada at the Tipping Point - Charting a new path, as saying, “There have been too many times when I have cut back on my daily testing because I cannot afford to buy testing strips. If I didn’t have to test less [due to costs], I’d be happier and better able to manage my condition.”
Nova Scotians with diabetes should not have to make the difficult choice that the Bedford woman says she is forced to make - a choice between financial security and good health. While we in this caucus should not usually urge the government to spend money, making the investment suggested by the Diabetes Association may now lead to significant savings in the future. By helping Nova Scotians with diabetes better manage their disease now, savings can be achieved by reducing the $36 million that is now being spent on the hospitalization of people with diabetes - I’ll repeat that, $36 million is being spent on the hospitalization of people with diabetes. That’s a huge number, because of things getting out of hand with that disease. It’s time for this government to act decisively to improve the health of thousands of Nova Scotians now and save the health care system hundreds of thousands of dollars in the future.
I find it curious that this government’s Speech from the Throne contained the promise of over a dozen strategies but there was no mention of a diabetic strategy even though the Diabetes Care Program is scheduled to expire in 2012. It makes you wonder about this government’s priorities to make the choice to hike taxes and increase user fees in order to post an eleventh hour surplus. But they don’t invest in the future of health of an increasingly large section of our population.
It’s easy to contrast the actions of this government with the actions of the Government of New Brunswick, as mentioned by the member for Halifax Clayton Park. Despite tabling the budget that contained a $448 million deficit, the New Brunswick Government understood the financial and human costs associated with doing nothing with regard to diabetes. Like Nova Scotia, the burden of diabetes was growing in New Brunswick. Like Nova Scotia, the New Brunswick diabetes cost model found that both the cost and prevalence of diabetes in the province were at dramatically high levels and, if left unchecked, would continue to rise over the next decade.
The difference between Nova Scotia’s government and New Brunswick’s government is that in New Brunswick they understand there is the cost of doing nothing, a cost in the form of more diagnosed cases of diabetes, sicker people with diabetes, more hospital stays, higher health care costs and, unfortunately, more deaths due to diabetes.
New Brunswick’s government took the impact of diabetes seriously and made funding for insulin pumps and the other essential supplies available. That diabetes strategy also provides funds for monitoring education measures and is a comprehensive strategy that earned kudos from the Diabetes Association.
According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, insulin pumps are fast becoming a popular choice for people who want greater flexibility or an improvement in their blood glucose control. Many diabetes sufferers who use an insulin pump report a better quality of life compared with those who use other devices for administering insulin. Insulin pumps make it possible to deliver more precise amounts of insulin than using a syringe. In fact, there are many advantages to the use of insulin pumps. For many people, however, the cost of that pump, even with insurance coverage, puts the devices out of reach.
It is time for this government to deliver better care sooner to Nova Scotians with diabetes. It is time for this government to follow New Brunswick’s lead, to take the impact of diabetes seriously and take real action to help those already living with diabetes and prevent more people from getting diabetes. It’s time for this government to make a plan to combat diabetes and tackle the mounting costs of diabetes on people and on the province’s finances.
Madam Speaker, I do want to thank the many parents who have to spend so much time taking care of their children. I know, as a parent of two young boys, how much work that is. I can only fathom just a little bit, just understand a little bit, how it would be to take care of two children, let’s say, with diabetes and to see maybe the impact of an insulin pump on how to allow them to be able to live a more normal life, a life that maybe has a few less needles involved in it. If you look at being able to test, you are testing eight, 10 times a day and you are injecting insulin four, five, six times a day in order to have a normal insulin level over those periods of time - that takes an incredible amount of work and dedication.
When you talk to individuals who have had type I diabetes for a very long period of time they talk about maybe having a normal life, a normal life that includes sports, a normal life that includes going for a sleepover, being able to really pay attention in school and being able to participate in the things that happen there, whether it is extracurricular or other, the many people that we have had the opportunity to talk to who have gotten that pump, they can call it a life-changing experience.
Madam Speaker, I’ve had the opportunity over the last couple of years to participate in the Junior Diabetes Research Foundation Ride for Life. I’ve had a tremendous time participating in it. I think last year we were the only caucus to mount a team and I’m hoping that with the interest that we’ve had in this Legislature, the work that we’re trying to do and the work that the Junior Diabetes Research Foundation is trying to do, that we have a team from at least each caucus, if not having one - a couple from each caucus, if at all possible. I know we’d have a harder time doing that than most of the caucuses, but we’ll definitely try to do our best.
Madam Speaker, this organization has done phenomenal things in moving the issue of diabetes forward and trying to find those supports not only for the children but for the families of those children, in trying to regulate and modernize and normalize their lives. I think it is time that this government takes a second look at the possibility of a new program, a program that at the very least provides some kind of insulin pump program, at least for children, who deserve to have that life that most of our children do have the opportunity to enjoy.
So, Madam Speaker, again, I want to thank everybody for bringing this. I thank the member for Halifax Clayton Park for bringing this resolution forward and I look forward to further discussions as bills and things go forward in this House.
MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.
MR. LEO GLAVINE: Madam Speaker, I’m very pleased today to join in the debate on Resolution No. 134. This is first of all a topic - diabetes - that in one way or another has impacted on the lives of many of the MLAs and their families over the years. I know for myself, I became educated on diabetes, I guess probably 30-something years ago now, when my mother, at the age of 59, was found by my sister in a diabetic coma. She dramatically, of course, had to change the way she lived and first of all, of course, adjusting to two needles a day but she did take very good care of herself and my dear mother lived to be 89 but we did see the ravages of diabetes, as she had two amputations in her declining years.
So, you know, from that, coming here to the Legislature, over now four or five years, MLAs have had a wonderful opportunity to be educated about diabetes and the impact on Nova Scotia and the alarming rate that we have, but really importantly what stands out for me is the education on the insulin pump. I would challenge every member in the House to get out to the MLA diabetes dinner and evening. It’s an outstanding education opportunity when families come as part of that evening and tell us about their experience with the pump, and families, of course, who cannot afford the pump and would love to have some assistance in what they are facing.
I perhaps was most touched on one of those evenings when a family from Cape Breton brought their three children to the dinner and, again, urging us to continue our fight with the previous government and with the current government to look at funding, to some degree, of insulin pumps. This family from Cape Breton had three children with diabetes and from the time that they left Cape Breton until they made it here for the dinner at the Prince George, they had to make two stops at emergency departments along the way with their children having readings that were now at the dangerous level. So, you know, it was a great opportunity to then hear what an insulin pump will do for a child and for a family.
Over the last few days as we talked about reintroducing this very important piece of legislation and as you can see today, this is very non-partisan. Members are paying attention to a very serious issue and we hope that all members of the House will, in fact, encourage the Minister of Health and Wellness and the department to take a serious look at bringing Bill No. 11, if they want to amend it, fine, but to start the coverage, at least for children under the age of 18.
I have one letter here from a Natalie Brown and she says about her son, Dylan, “Since having the insulin pump, the number of times we have had to go to the emergency room has lessened. His overall health has improved. His quality of life has improved and we have had less doctor visits. The health care system would definitely save money in both the short term and especially in the long term.”
I also had an e-mail from Autumn Bell who, I don’t think she’s perhaps here today, but I know she’s involved with the Halifax support group and work group on this issue, and she gave the same account of her son when he started to use the pump and how dramatically they had to visit the IWK substantially less.
I want to recount one of those experiences where the before and after is very profoundly seen. I think perhaps one of my colleagues, the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, having been in school administration, probably could identify with this, and perhaps other teachers here in the House as well, and that is having - especially in those early teen years, Grades 7, 8 and 9 - a severely diabetic child in the school and in those days without a school nurse, having to rely upon the guidance department to make sure that the child checked in at noon time to be tested before they had lunch.
I know as vice-principal, immediately when the child didn’t report during that noon hour, my job was to hit the playground, hit the school areas to try to find this child because parents had alerted us that he was a child who would need to make sure that he had his insulin during that noon period.
Just as I was leaving school, the first child I had encountered with an insulin pump came into our school and what a dramatic difference it made in the lives of teachers and school administrators as it reduced a lot of our stress. To see that child go about his daily rounds in the school, no matter what the activity, no matter what the time of day, no worry on school trips and so forth, it is a tremendously transforming and liberating time in the child’s life when they are introduced to the insulin pump.
We all know that government has tough choices to make, and the decision will take some time, perhaps, to see whether it has value or not, but government decided to buy a chip seal plant and we know we can talk about the safety of our roads; $2.6 million on a chip seal plant, $6 million on a paving plant, what a wonderful start to put that money into an insulin pump program to get us off the ground here in Nova Scotia. That’s why we’re calling on government to rethink this whole area.
One of the things that the minister did bring up in her time on this resolution today was she mentioned the EMILY fund. Currently we are told, according to the JDRF, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (Interruptions) There just isn’t money in that fund, there are no dollars available to assist and in some ways, again, it’s another appeal to charity. I’d rather look to what the Newfoundland and Labrador Government did. I’d like us to follow what the New Brunswick Government has recently done. They know that they have very serious financial challenges. This, again, must be seen as an investment because the insulin pump allows for greater control of type 1 diabetes and the kinds of impacts that it has on our health in the short term and especially in the long term.
When you consider that we’re already at 87,000 Nova Scotians who have diabetes, and that number in just 10 years is going to move to 125,000, it is really a frightening thought. It is going to add another $100 million to the care, from childhood to seniors. If we take some steps now and get insulin pumps into the total program, as the minister alluded to, it is one of the measures, one of the tools that we should have.