Every year, November 14 is recognized as World Diabetes Day. This year’s theme is Access to Diabetes Care, a reminder that we have a long way to go to ensure those living with diabetes in Alberta have access to the care they need.
Albertans will remember last year, when 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. No new announcements or improvements to coverage have come since that working group was formed.
“Friends of Medicare and people across the province fought for the implementation of the insulin pump program back in 2013, and we fought hard to keep it when the UCP threatened to end it,” said Chris Gallaway, executive director of Friends of Medicare. “But it’s not enough to simply fight to keep what we have. We need to listen to Albertans living with diabetes to ensure they have access to the diabetes care they need. The provincial government needs to finally include crucial Continuous Glucose Monitors as part of the Insulin Pump Therapy Program.”
In last year’s Manitoba budget tabled by then 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 called this announcement a huge win for Manitobans living with diabetes.
"The Alberta government should 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 Gallaway. “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.”
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.
“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 and equipment they need, not more delays.”
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.