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Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects millions of Canadians, especially seniors. According to Diabetes Canada, more than 3 million Canadians have diabetes and 48% of them are over the age of 65. Diabetes can lead to serious complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and amputation.

To manage their diabetes effectively, people with diabetes need access to medications and supplies such as blood glucose test strips, insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitors and needles. However, these supplies can be very expensive and not fully covered by public or private drug plans.

For example, in Alberta, eligible individuals in the Non-group Coverage plan, Seniors Coverage plan and Palliative Coverage plan will have coverage for blood glucose test strips and other eligible diabetes supplies for each benefit year up to a maximum of one of the following:

* $2,400 for patients with diabetes who are currently and regularly using insulin

* $320 for patients treated with diabetes medications with high risk of hypoglycemia

* $160 for patients treated with diabetes medications with low risk of hypoglycemia

* $160 for patients treated by diet or exercise or both

These amounts may not be enough to cover the actual needs of people with diabetes who may require more frequent testing or different types of devices. For instance, a person using an insulin pump may need up to $5,000 per year for pump supplies alone.

Moreover, these coverage limits vary across provinces and territories. Some provinces such as Ontario and Quebec offer more generous coverage for seniors while others such as British Columbia and Saskatchewan have lower caps or no coverage at all. This creates inequities and disparities among Canadians living with diabetes.

Diabetes Canada advocates for federal, provincial and territorial governments to ensure that the cost of diabetes medication, devices and supplies are not a barrier or a burden to managing the disease. They also call for more research and innovation to improve access to new technologies that can help people with diabetes monitor their blood sugar levels more easily and accurately.

Diabetes is a serious health issue that affects many Canadian seniors. It is important that they have access to affordable and adequate diabetes supplies that can help them prevent complications and improve their quality of life.

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