Alberta Must Follow Manitoba’s Lead and Expand Diabetes Coverage

Alberta Must Follow Manitoba’s Lead and Expand Diabetes Coverage

EDMONTON — In last week’s Manitoba budget tabled by Progressive Conservative Premier Heather Stefanson, their government announced universal coverage for continuous glucose monitors and insulin pumps for people living with diabetes. Both Diabetes Canada and JDRF Canada have called this announcement a huge win for Manitobans living with diabetes.

"The Alberta government should immediately follow Manitoba’s lead when it comes to covering crucial equipment for folks living with diabetes, specifically expanding coverage to include continuous glucose monitors,” said Chris Gallaway, executive director of Friends of Medicare. “Alberta’s current complex patchwork of private and public drug and health benefit plans is leaving far too many struggling to pay for the medications and equipment they need.”

Last May, the UCP government announced that they would be terminating the Insulin Pump Benefits Program, impacting up to 4,000 Albertans with diabetes. Following massive public outcry from Friends of Medicare, Pump 4 Life, and thousands of grassroots Albertans, the government finally conceded by announcing they were stopping their plans to end the Insulin Pump Benefits Program and instead, struck a working group to consult on diabetes care.

“We successfully fought back against the UCP government's short-sighted and backwards proposal that would have left many Albertans subject to costly co-pays and premiums, and added extra downstream costs to our public health care system,” said Lesley Thompson, co-founder of the grassroots Alberta group, Pump 4 Life. “Now it’s time for the provincial government to listen to the community and step up to include crucial Continuous Glucose Monitors as part of the Insulin Pump Therapy Program.”

After many months of delays from the UCP government, the Alberta diabetes working group was finally appointed shortly before Christmas. Months into a one-year mandate, the working group has held only one meeting, and there are no clear commitments or timelines for implementing improvements to diabetes coverage for Albertans.

“An estimated 420 working-aged Canadians with diabetes die each year because they don't have adequate access to their equipment and medications,” said Gallaway. “This is unacceptable. Albertans living with diabetes deserve action, now. They deserve universal coverage for the medications they need, not more delays with government working groups or committees.”

Friends of Medicare and Pump 4 Life continue to ask Albertans to keep up the pressure to ensure that the Insulin Pump Therapy Program is never threatened again, by calling on the government to move forward on expanding diabetes care.

Friends of Medicare also continues to call on the federal government to finally keep their promise to implement universal single-payer pharmacare for all Canadians, which would ensure that everyone living with diabetes or other illnesses would have access to the medications that they need. Join us in taking action for pharmacare.

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