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CMA welcomes federal budget’s action on dementia, smoking

Although health care was far from a major item in a 2014 federal budget that focused on debt reduction, the CMA says it is pleased that some “targeted” spending will tackle areas of growing concern within medicine, particularly the country’s looming dementia epidemic.

In his Feb. 11 budget, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced creation of the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA), a move welcomed by CMA President Louis Hugo Francescutti as a first step toward a a panCanadian seniors’ care strategy. “Dementia is the canary in the coal mine in terms of the challenges facing how we provide health care for an aging population,” he said.

The consortium will be operated by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, which says the CCNA will “bring together the best of Canadian research in the field of neurodegenerative diseases affecting cognition . . . [to] work on bold and transformative research ideas to make a difference in the quality of life and the quality of services for those living with the effects of neurodegenerative diseases affecting cognition, and their caregivers.”

Francescutti described a $44.9 million expansion of the National Anti-Drug Strategy to include prescription drug abuse as a “step ahead.” The expansion will take place over five years.

In a November 2013 brief to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health, the CMA reported: “We believe that the misuse and abuse of prescription medication is a serious problem, and because of its complexity it requires a complex and multifaceted solution.”

The 2014 budget also includes a $70-million, three-year fund to boost the delivery of health services in Canada’s three northern territories.

There will also be a $4 increase in the price of a carton of cigarettes thanks to higher excise duties. “We applaud any move that encourages people to quit this disastrous habit,” Francescutti said.

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