A bill for a national dementia strategy was voted down by a single vote in the House of Commons on Wednesday evening.
And while Health Minister Rona Ambrose supports the idea of a strategy, she also voted against it.
Bill C-356, sponsored by NDP MP Claude Gravelle, was supported by the NDP and Liberal parties but not by the Conservatives. Nine backbench Conservatives voted against party lines in favour of the bill, but the final tally came to 140 MPs against and 139 in favour.
Gravelle sponsored the bill after watching his elderly father struggle to care for his mother. The family struggled with a lack of homecare and support services for both the patient and caretaker.
It’s a story becoming increasingly familiar to Canadians.
For Matt Dineen’s family, the difficulties began decades earlier than he could ever have imagined. His wife Lisa, was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia at 44. Just months after her diagnosis, Dineen made the decision to place Lisa in a long term care facility.
Dineen is now actively seeking a nationwide strategy for dementia. He’s met with a number of politicians in search of support, including Gravelle and Ambrose.
While Ambrose is supportive of a national strategy to address dementia, she voted against Gravelle’s bill.
“I do support what Mr. Gravelle is doing,” said Ambrose. “But we’re working with the provinces and territories on developing a national strategy. So I’d prefer to work with them collaboratively because they’re all very receptive and we’re already well on our way to working together.”
While Ambrose has committed to funding research, there is disappointment among those who hoped for legislation toward a pan-Canadian strategy.
Dineen isn’t giving up after coming this far.
“I’m doing it for the next Lisa Dineens to come, so that we do have the infrastructure in place… So that we can prepare for what’s been called the tsunami of dementia, the tidal wave of dementia.”