Thursday, December 15, 2011

Nova Scotia Government is Scrooge for those with Diabetes

After the announcement earlier this month  by the Saskatchewan government that they would be expanding their coverage of diabetes devices and supplies, Nova Scotia has sadly announced this week that they will not cover insulin pumps for residents of any age. I have to admit that I remain very shocked and disappointed by this announcement.

I have met a number of people who have worked hard in Nova Scotia for a lot of years to see improved access to devices and supplies in that province. I am surprised that their efforts continue to go for not.

When Nova Scotia elected an NDP government, I thought that a pump program would be guaranteed.  My knowledge of politics is minimal. I have no political affiliation or loyalty. I vote for you if I like you and think that you are actually doing your job.  Its that simple for me.  I also have a very limited idea of the basic principals behind of most political parties.  In Grade 10 social studies I was taught that the Liberals are "liberal" and believe in social programming.  The Conservatives are not as interested in social spending and believe you should make it on your own merit.  The NDP are far right and thus believe even more in social responsibility that the liberals.  That was how I saw it. 

It was because of this view that I felt that an NDP government in Nova Scotia would ensure improved health care.  They were about social responsibility right? They believed in helping those less fortunate or those who cannot afford the best medical treatment, weren't they? I guess not.

This scare me.  I am not concerned with the fact that my general view of  political parties is obviously off but I am concerned with a government that has just said NO.  If our socialized health care is not a priority for a social party what hope do we have? If they will not help out those who cannot afford to avail of the latest technological advances and best medicines, then what will happen when devices like the Artificial Pancreas are developed? We will be living in a very two tiered system. Perhaps we already are. Those who can afford to quality care for themselves or their loves ones will get it. Those who can't don't and won't. That is disturbing.

What happens in those families with more than one person with diabetes? How do they cope without government help? How do they keep themselves healthy? I have already seen families where Mom does not test as often so that her son can have more test strips. I have seen families where a parent has to decide which child will get an insulin pump and which child will have to stay on shots because she/he cannot afford to pay for it for both. 

During the holiday season, we think of spending money on gifts. Can we afford to buy our child the latest xBox game? Have we bought them a new laptop or tablet to put under the tree? Should we buy our loved one a new iPhone? The list goes on but for many living with diabetes, one xBox game is equal to a box of 100 test strips.  A tablet would cover a month's worth of pump supplies.  An iPhone may be the same price as a CGM. 

This is not the way our country is supposed to be.  This is not how Canadians should live.  This needs to be fixed.  We need governments that care.  No to medical devices and supplies is just not acceptable. We must say yes to compassion, yes to improved health, and yes to looking after those who cannot look after themselves. Access to medical devises and supplies should be a given not a budgetary issue.  Things must change.


  1. Hi Barb,

    The news is very sad and upsetting. Did you happen to notice this quote in the article?

    "There is currently no limit on the use of strips, but McNamara said the Canadian Diabetes Association recommends a maximum of about 150 strips per patient annually."

    I DM CDA and sent a tweet @DiabetesAssoc and they have not responded.

    I think The Canadian Diabetes Association needs to come out and say something before 150 strips per patient annually become what the government will cover.

  2. The paradox, both in Canada and the US, is, what good is medical research and technology if those who stand to benefit from it can't afford it? What good is a market, if nobody can afford its products?

    Pearlsa, I wonder if that quote is a mistake? 150 strips a year means 12.5 strips a MONTH! Even VERY stable Type 2's couldn't control their BGs under that limit! Are Canadian lawmakers just as dumb as American ones????

  3. The entire thing scares me. As to the can the CDA issue a statement like that unless it is a typo when their guidelines recommend more testing than that? Oy!

  4. I sent an email to the CDA that included the link to the article asking about the quote. They have sadly not responded to my email.

    If it is a miss quote they need to say that and soon. My supplemental health via work only covers what PharmaCare covers(basically they are paying my deductible) that is why this quote scares me.