Tête-à-tête with Tassi: Minister of Seniors talks about Canada’s first national dementia strategy

Below is a column by Canada’s Minister of Seniors Filomena Tassi. This month, Minister Tassi took the opportunity to talk about Canada’s first national dementia strategy: A Dementia Strategy for Canada: Together We Aspire. The strategy sets out three national objectives: prevent dementia, advance therapies and find a cure, and improve the quality of life of people living with dementia and their caregivers.

Chances are that you, or someone close to you, has been or will be touched by dementia. In Canada, more than 419,000 people aged 65 years and older have been diagnosed with dementia. This number is expected to grow as lifespans increase and our population ages.

A diagnosis of dementia is life changing—for the person diagnosed, families, caregivers and communities. Dementia can affect a person’s memory, relationships and independence. Understanding the impacts of dementia and knowing how best to improve the quality of life of people living with dementia and their caregivers is essential.

That’s why the Government of Canada is working on multiple fronts to ensure that seniors living with dementia and their caregivers are valued, supported and experience the best quality of life possible. We’re also dedicated to ensuring that dementia is prevented, effectively treated and better understood. Most recently, to further these priorities, we worked collaboratively with people living with dementia, caregivers, advocacy groups, health professionals, researchers and representatives from provincial and territorial governments to develop Canada’s first national dementia strategy. A Dementia Strategy for Canada: Together We Aspire sets out three national objectives: prevent dementia, advance therapies and find a cure, and improve the quality of life of people living with dementia and their caregivers.

The work of implementing the strategy will complement existing work in the provinces and territories. Budget 2019 announced funding of $50 million over five years to help increase awareness about dementia and prevention; reduce stigma; support dementia-inclusive communities; develop and disseminate guidelines and best practices; and better understand the impact of dementia through enhanced monitoring.

To further research on dementia in Canada, $32 million over five years was announced in June 2019 to support the second phase of the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging. This is in addition to ongoing funding of $4 million per year for the Dementia Community Investment to support community-based projects that address the challenges of dementia and optimize the well-being of people living with dementia and their caregivers.

Helping all Canadian seniors lead healthy, independent and active lives is a top priority for the government. We will continue to place a strong and distinct focus on their health and wellbeing, so that seniors, including those living with dementia as well as their caregivers, can live as fully as possible, with dignity and respect.

The Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister of Seniors