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As cost of living rises, diabetes remains an expensive condition for Atlantic Canadians – Global News



Emily Gouthro says she’s fortunate to have health insurance. If not, she would struggle to manage her diabetes.

“Even if you do have coverage in Nova Scotia, sometimes it’s only 80 per cent of the pay,” said Gouthro in a recent interview. “And that’s if you have great coverage.”


Gouthro, a registered nurse, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was four years old. The cost of her insulin is entirely covered by her insurance plan. But, as she explains, costs go well beyond the insulin itself.

People with Type 1 diabetes often rely on insulin pumps — which can cost thousands of dollars — to administer their medication. Then there’s the cost of reservoirs for insulin, infusion sets, testing strips and other equipment.

“A lot of people don’t realize that there’s so much to this disease,” said Gouthro. “It’s 24 hours a day – you’re thinking about it all the time.”

Emily Gouthro has been living with Type 1 diabetes for most of her life.

Submitted by Emily Gouthro

Goutro said under her insurance plan, she gets $10,000 to cover insulin pumps for her lifetime.

“But if you know anything about insulin pumps, they typically range anywhere from $4,000 to $6,000. That’s just for the pump itself, and the warranty’s only good for four years,” she said.

“They’re saying you only get $10,000 for your lifetime, but the insulin pump you’re only going to have for a couple of years. And then what are you supposed to do?”

As for the rest of her supplies, she has to pay hundreds of dollars out of pocket each month and wait to be reimbursed by her insurance.

“You’re always going to have something on your credit card or waiting to get paid back,” she said.

“Even if you do have coverage, and you’re lucky to have coverage, you’re still out money and you’re still waiting to get that back.”

Click to play video: 'Great Nova Scotian Fingerprick Challenge'

Great Nova Scotian Fingerprick Challenge

Great Nova Scotian Fingerprick Challenge – Aug 4, 2021

When she was a child, her family had to fundraise to purchase her first insulin pump. Nova Scotia now has an insulin pump program, but that only covers pumps for people aged 25 and under.

“The coverage here is so behind and so lacking. It’s great that there’s coverage for up to 25, but your disease doesn’t go away after 25,” she said.

“It’s almost discriminatory that after 25, then you’re not getting the help, you’re not going to be able to have your pump covered, you’re not going to get the basic supplies that you need.”

Read more:
Diabetes advocates in N.B., N.S. renew call to remove age discrimination cap

Gouthro said if diabetes isn’t managed properly, that can lead to many more serious problems down the road, putting further strain on the health-care system — something she has seen in her work as a nurse.

“If you’re kind of going along, having the bare-minimum supplies, the bare-minimum treatment, then you get there and you can have kidney failure, you can deal with blindness, you have amputations. It’s all the scary things that you hear about,” she said.

“If our province could help give people the tools to have the best possible chance with their disease, it would be phenomenal. It would give everyone a better chance.”

She said she is hopeful that the Tim Houston government — which has focused much of its mandate on health care — will make changes so people with diabetes can afford their supplies.

‘Prohibitive’ costs

Diabetes Canada agrees that some other jurisdictions are doing it better. According to their website, B.C., Alberta, Ontario, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut all cover insulin pumps and supplies for eligible people of all ages.

Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, P.E.I. and Saskatchewan cap the insulin pump coverage at age 25, while Manitoba, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador cap it at 17.

However, in Manitoba, full coverage is given to those recommended by an endocrinologist, and Newfoundland and Labrador says it will cover people up to 24 who are already in the program and meet the criteria. New applicants over the age of 18 who meet the criteria will be income tested.

Read more:
Manitoba programs to provide diabetes equipment for more young people

Coverage for insulin pumps is inconsistent across the country, Diabetes Canada notes.

“Canadians living in provinces with limited coverage or not meeting eligibility criteria for their provincial plan must pay out-of-pocket for insulin pump therapy, which carries a $6,000 to $7,000 price tag,” the Diabetes Canada website says.

“In addition, the ongoing expense of monthly supplies is a constraint to the use of insulin pumps, costing up to $300 every month. For many people, these charges are prohibitive.”

Read more:
B.C. to eliminate rid of age restrictions covering insulin pump costs

Brooks Roche, the manager of patient knowledge and connection with Diabetes Canada, has lived with Type 1 diabetes for most of his life. He described it as a “relentless” disease that calls for constant self-management.

“Every single input — whether that’s food, sleep, exercise, stress, sickness, weather — everything comes into play,” he said in an interview from Charlottetown, P.E.I.

“Basically, we’re always hunting for some sense of normalcy, and there are no breaks and no days off.”

‘Horrifying decisions’

Roche said people with Type 1 diabetes who use insulin pumps can expect to pay $6,000 per year for their supplies, while those with other types of diabetes pay around $2,000 a year on average.

He said the high price of diabetes is an especially big problem in the four Atlantic provinces, which are the bottom four in the country in terms of median household income.

Read more:
Nova Scotia and New Brunswick minimum wages ‘well below’ a livable wage: report

“These out-of-pocket costs do not know what province or territory they’re in, so they eat up a much more significant chunk of people’s income in Atlantic Canada,” he said.

“It really does add up when folks have to make those horrifying decisions we hear about, where it’s: ‘Do I pay for all the groceries I need, or that my family needs this month? Or do I get this technology or treatment that I need to stay in a good quality of life?’

“Those are not choices that we want people to be making in a country with purportedly universal health care.”

Brooks Roche says the high price of diabetes supplies is forcing people to make difficult decisions.

Brooks Roche says the high price of diabetes supplies is forcing people to make difficult decisions.

Global News

He said the logic behind putting age caps on insulin pump coverage “falls apart really quickly,” as people of any age can be diagnosed with diabetes.

While Roche is encouraged by the federal government’s commitment in the last budget to fund a national diabetes framework, he said more work must be done on a provincial level to ensure people with diabetes have access to the equipment they need.

Noting that Sunday marks World Diabetes Day — and this year marks a significant anniversary of the discovery of insulin — Roche said now is the time for provinces to step up.

“It’s very important to take that momentum and roll it into provincial decisions that are being made,” he said. “This is the opportune time, because 2021 is the 100-year anniversary of the discovery of insulin … and we ought to celebrate that.”

Click to play video: 'Kelowna father, son living with diabetes, 100 years after discovery of insulin'

Kelowna father, son living with diabetes, 100 years after discovery of insulin

Kelowna father, son living with diabetes, 100 years after discovery of insulin – Nov 4, 2021

In a statement, Marla MacInnis, spokesperson for the Nova Scotia Department of Health, said in an email that eligibility for the provincial insulin pump program is “based on meeting medical criteria and a determination of financial support based on family income and size.”

“The age associated with this program was based on an evaluation of the needs of Nova Scotians together with a jurisdictional scan at the time the program was implemented,” she wrote. “The Department regularly reviews its programs to ensure they are meeting the needs of Nova Scotians and welcomes feedback on the Insulin Pump Program.”

Meanwhile, New Brunswick Health Minister Dorothy Shephard told Global News last week that insulin pump coverage is an important discussion to have, but one that’s been delayed due to COVID-19.

“It’s always been my intention that we have this type of conversation … but it’s just the department has had so many fires to deal with that this conversation has been delayed,” she said.

The cost of not managing diabetes

Dr. Tom Ransom, a Nova Scotia endocrinologist with Capital Health, said there have been many advancements in the last century when it comes to managing diabetes and administering insulin, and there is now a “menu” of supplies that help people with diabetes manage their disease.

However, the cost of these supplies remains a barrier — especially for those who are uninsured, or whose insurance is lacking.

“People who are employed and have private drug plans will have these things covered. But unfortunately for the working poor — the people who are maybe self-employed or don’t have the best drug plan, or when they got work had pre-existing diabetes so it wasn’t covered — for these people, they’re in a real bind,” he said.

“Sort of sacrificing ideal care at a cost and putting themselves at risk.”

Dr. Tom Ransom says he wants his patients to have access to the medical supplies they need.

Dr. Tom Ransom says he wants his patients to have access to the medical supplies they need.

Global News

Ransom said the question is less about the cost of managing diabetes and more about the cost of not managing diabetes.

“If you’re not managing it, you incur the costs later,” he said. “You increase the risk of eye disease, which ultimately can lead to blindness, or kidney disease, which can lead to dialysis. Or neuropathy — people could potentially lose their foot — and heart disease, heart attacks and things like that, that are at a great cost.”

Read more:
With diabetes on the rise, Canadian doctor awarded for advancing treatment

Ransom said he and others have been lobbying the government for “quite some time” to get insulin pumps and other equipment covered, but said things have been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, he remains hopeful that the province will begin covering these important supplies.

“I talk to people all day who have diabetes, and I advocate for them every chance I get,” he said.

“For me, it just makes sense to have these things covered.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Women More Likely to Suffer Adverse Mental Health Effects After Stroke: Report



A new report from the Heart and Stroke Foundation shows that women are more likely to suffer adverse mental health effects after a stroke, and that services and supports are lacking.

The report, Stroke and Mental Health: The Invisible and Inequitable Effects on Women, was released on Thursday.

Dr. Clair Barefoot, clinical psychologist at the Nova Scotia Rehabilitation Centre, says recovering from a stroke can take a big toll on people.

That, coupled with the additional roles women often take on—such as caring for children, can cause additional strain and force them to leave rehab early.


Barefoot says supports and services are generally lacking across Canada.

She says it is quite difficult and expensive for people to find personalized care, so she would like to see more psychologists in hospitals and more funding for the private sector so that people can access more of those services after they’re discharged.



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Grail says over 400 patients incorrectly informed they may have cancer



Cancer test maker Grail Inc said on Friday that its telemedicine vendor erroneously sent letters to about 400 patients suggesting they may have developed cancer.

Grail’s flagship cancer detection blood test Galleri is designed to detect more than 50 types of cancer before symptoms appear.

The company, owned by Illumina Inc, ILMN-Q said the letters were mistakenly sent by PWNHealth due to a software issue and that it “was in no way related to or caused by an incorrect Galleri test result”.

Grail said it had reached out to the patients immediately after the issue, adding that no patient health information has been disclosed or breached due to this.


The software issue being faced by PWNHealth has now been resolved, it said.

Illumina is currently appealing regulatory orders in the U.S. and EU, which are asking the gene sequencing company to divest Grail after it jumped regulators to close its acquisition of the cancer test maker.



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Rates of infectious sexual diseases on the decline in region – CambridgeToday



Unprotected sex with more than one partner in a six month period is the biggest risk factor behind a recent rise in syphilis cases in Waterloo region, according to a report on infectious disease trends from Region of Waterloo Public Health.

The annual infectious diseases surveillance report gathers and analyzes information on the infectious diseases that physicians, laboratories and hospitals are required to report to the region’s public health unit in line with Ontario Public Health Standards.

Infectious diseases are illnesses caused by microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites that have the potential to cause serious illness and outbreaks.


There were 116 reports of infectious syphilis in the region last year, a rate of 17.8 per 100,000 population compared to 23.1 across the province. The number is down from a high of 143 reported cases in 2021, and a rate of 22.2 per 100,000 that was higher than the provincial average of 20.6.

The report says rates of syphilis, while lower than the province, have increased substantially in recent years, especially among females. This trend has also been observed in the province, which suggests a shift in epidemiology and sexual health practices.

The most common sexually transmitted infections in Waterloo Region continue to be chlamydia and gonorrhea.

There were 1,388 cases of chlamydia reported across the region last year, a rate of 192.8 per 100,000 population compared to 255.9 provincially. That’s down slightly from the age-standardized rate of 196.9 per 100,000 reported in 2021.

Gonorrhea case counts continued to spike across the province in 2022, while experiencing a slight decline in the rate of infection in Waterloo region.

Waterloo region reported 266 cases last year, a rate of 38.2 per 100,000. That’s compared to 77.5 per 100,000 province-wide.

Across the board, the demographic with the highest number of cases of sexually transmitted infections locally and across the province is the 20 to 29 age group.

Mpox, previously known as monkeypox, was declared a disease of global public health concern and became a newly reportable disease in Ontario in 2022.

There were only four local cases of mpox last year. Public Health says it has been monitoring the situation, working with health care providers to provide up-todate treatment guidance, and providing mpox vaccines to high-risk individuals.

The mpox virus is most commonly spread to people through close, physical contact with an infected person.

Campylobacter enteritis and salmonellosis were the most common enteric diseases in Waterloo Region in 2022. The local rates for enteric diseases were similar to or lower than those of the province.

Risk factors for enteric illnesses such as Campylobacter enteritis and salmonellosis include consuming undercooked meats and unpasteurized dairy products, ingesting contaminated food or water, and contact with infected persons.

Rates of vaccine preventable diseases in Waterloo Region were similar to those of the province. The most common vaccine preventable diseases in Waterloo Region were pneumococcal disease and pertussis (whooping cough).

In 2022, as we returned to normal activities, we saw a return of circulating respiratory viruses including pertussis with rates higher than had been seen during the first two years of the pandemic.

Public Health says immunization is the best way to prevent whooping cough. Pneumococcal vaccine is also recommended for infants, older adults 65 years and older, and those at high risk from the infection.

Region of Waterloo Public Health undertakes a number of activities to prevent or reduce the burden of infectious diseases in the community.

Programs and services include case management, contacts and exposures for diseases of public health significance; inspections, investigations and outbreak management, including community outbreaks and those in institutions; health promotion activities and services for primary care providers, emergency service workers, childcare providers, and other community groups; and clinic-based services for sexual health, immunization, and tuberculosis screening and management.

Region of Waterloo Public Health says it will provide highlights of respiratory disease trends, including influenza, in a report to council this fall.

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