The leader of the federal NDP touched down in Cranbrook for a late afternoon discussion about the efforts of caring for relatives with dementia on Monday, Sept. 14.
Thomas Mulcair met with several residents at a private home near downtown Cranbrook, and listened to their personal experiences with caring for family members with Alzheimer’s and dementia. He then announced the NDP’s national Alzheimer’s and Dementia strategy, which has the aim of investing in screening, diagnosis, support of research.
“In Cranbrook and across British Columbia we notice that there are a lot of people who realize that the lost decade of the Conservatives has meant that in the community the type of care that’s needed more and more simply isn’t there,” said Mulcair at the press conference following the discussion.
“So we plan to be a reliable long-term partner, and that contrasts with the short-term vision of Justin Trudeau and his Liberals. Mr. Harper has cut health care transfers and we’ve lost a lot of time.”
Mulcair was accompanied by his wife Catherine Pinhas, and an entourage of security, NDP party staff and members of the national media.
“What I’ve learned from these families (in Cranbrook) is that it’s not just a statistic. When we’re told that amongst Canadians 45 years and over, one in five is now taking care of a family member with Alzheimer’s or dementia, that’s a number that’s only going to increase as the [baby boom generation ages], and that’s why we’ve got to start taking action now.”
Mulcair said an NDP government would work with provinces and territories and invest $40 million to create a national strategy — “putting more resources into communities like Cranbrook” — that will:
• Support screening, early diagnosis and treatment to help slow progression of the conditions;
• Improves resources for newly diagnosed patients and the families to access care;
• Fund additional Alzheimer’s and dementia research.
“I was very impressed with [Mulcair’s] very authentic desire to hear our personal stories and what he could glean from that — and particularly having his wife Catherine here, who’s such a wonderful compassionate person,” said Valerie Harris, who took part in the discussion.
“These are all people, in essence, who are friends,” said Kootenay-Columbia NDP candidate Wayne Stetski, who also sat in on the discussion. “They are also people who have personally experienced the impact of Alzheimer’s and dementia in their families as caregivers and as professionals, so altogether, they presented a very good picture of the challenges and opportunities around Alzheimer’s.
“For many of them, they felt very much alone looking after aging parents. There was nothing there to help them within the system, no funding available to provide caregiving that they needed, and at the same time, they really wanted to do the right things for their families. A lot of caring and compassion in that room today.”
Stetski said it was high time “that we have a national program and that we actually put some time, energy and money into dealing with Alzheimer’s.
“It was great to have Mr. Mulcair here,” he added. “He’s a very busy man travelling across the country; it’s a big job, so we were very honoured to have him spend a bit of time with us here in Cranbrook.”