'Missed opportunity' to help diabetics in P.E.I. budget

The P.E.I. government missed an opportunity in its recent budget to make its insulin-pump program available to more people, says Diabetes Canada — adding the province should also broaden coverage for the cost of test strips to measure blood sugar.

The province brought down its budget last Friday, April 7 — the first balanced budget in a decade for the Island. 

Right now, only Islanders 18 and under qualify for help purchasing an insulin pump, and only people using insulin qualify for subsidized test strips.

"Most people with diabetes don't have any government support in P.E.I. for their test strips and what we're finding is happening is people just aren't testing," said Jake Reid, senior leader of government relations with Diabetes Canada, from his office in Fredericton.

Many other provinces help fund insulin pumps for residents up to age 25, Reid noted, and there are no age restrictions in some provinces.

"We'd like to see that age restriction lifted as much as possible," he said. 

'Fantastic numbers'

"We know that 11 per cent of people right now on the Island have diabetes," he added, but notes many more are pre-diabetic. 

"One in three people in the Island now have diabetes or pre-diabetes. Those numbers are … huge and we need to deal with this," urged Reid. 

He called the budget a "missed opportunity really to help and support people with diabetes."

The organization, meanwhile, applauds what it calls the focus on primary care and health and wellness in the provincial budget.

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