By Joyce Barretto and Yvon Trepanier, Co-Chairs, National Advocacy Committee
Federal Health Committee Tables Report On Neurological Conditions
The Federal Standing Committee on Health tabled its report, Focusing on the Brain: an Examination of Neurological Diseases in Canada, to Parliament, in June 2012. This marked the culmination of the Health Committee’s study which began in 2009.
Key areas the report focused on included:
- the size and scope of neurological conditions and their impact on Canada’s health care system;
- the need to promote neurological research and surveillance;
- the importance of improving the quality of life of people living with neurological conditions, in areas such as income security;
- support for caregivers;
- access to treatment and therapies;
- the need for genetic privacy legislation at both the provincial and federal levels.
The Committee’s recommendations included several that Parkinson Society Canada and Neurological Health Charities Canada had advocated; for example, that:
- The Government of Canada consider using the results of the National Population Health Study on Neurological Diseases, in collaboration with the provinces and territories, as the basis of a pan-Canadian strategy for neurological diseases.
- The Public Health Agency of Canada include neurological conditions within its Canadian Chronic Disease Surveillance System.
- The Government of Canada continue to promote brain disease research and consider including multidisciplinary research that investigates the commonalities underlying brain diseases.
- The Canadian Institutes of Health Research consider developing more strategic initiatives related to neurological research.
- The Government of Canada consider establishing a Centre of Excellence for Neurodegenerative conditions, through its Networks of Centres of Excellence Program.
- The Public Health Agency of Canada continue to explore programs to inform Canadians about neurological diseases.
- The Government of Canada examine existing federal legislation, including the Privacy Act and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, to determine whether it provides sufficient protection regarding the privacy of health information, including the results of genetic testing.
These recommendations are a monumental win for the Parkinson’s community, as they send a powerful message to all parliamentarians about the need for better support for people living with neurological conditions and increased funding for neuroscience. They also provide a solid grounding for the advocacy efforts of both Parkinson Society Canada and Neurological Health Charities Canada, as we move forward.
You can view the full report at Focusing on the Brain: an Examination of Neurological Diseases in Canada.