Canadian Council of the Blind

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Canadian Vision Stakeholders Urge Swift Passage of Bill C-284 in the Senate

In the bottom left corner of the infographic, the words "Bill C-284: Why do we need a national healthcare strategy?" are displayed. Above this text, there is a light bulb encompassed by five multi-colored shapes. In the red shape, a graphic depicts a person walking with a cane, accompanied by the words "About 1.2 million Canadians are blind, deaf-blind, and partially sighted." Within the orange shape, an eye graphic in a square is paired with the words "Eight million Canadians live with one of the four major eye diseases." The green shape features an eye with a slash, accompanied by the statement "Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss for 2.5 million Canadians aged 55 and over." In the blue shape, a graphic portrays a person with a sack on their back, bearing the words "cost." Beneath, the text indicates, "The annual cost of vision loss in Canada is approximately $33 million." The last shape, colored purple, displays an image of a person stacking cubes spelling the word "risk," with the words "1 in 5 Canadians are at risk of vision loss" below the graphic.

“Vision care is healthcare,” emphasizes Phil Hooper, president of the Canadian Ophthalmological Society, underscoring the urgent need for a national eye care strategy in Canada. Approximately 1.2 million Canadians are experiencing sight loss, with about 8 million living with one of the four major eye diseases that can lead to blindness. Of these four major eye diseases, AMD is the leading cause of vision loss for individuals over 55. This alone affects over 2.5 million Canadians. The call for action today is more paramount than ever as these numbers are sure to increase.

Bill C-284 is an Act that calls for establishing a national eye care strategy. The Act was introduced in June 2022 by the Honourable Judy A. Sgro, Member of Parliament. During its third reading on October 25th at the House of Commons, Bill C-284 received a unanimous vote in favour of its enactment. The Bill is now poised to pass through the Senate for approval. Once cleared, the Bill may proceed through the Royal Assent stage, an essential step to officially become an act of Parliament.

Similar to the federal government, we, alongside many other vision organizations such as Fighting Blindness, CNIB, and Balance for Blind Adults, believe that there is a need for equity and accessibility. This can be achieved through the establishment of a national strategy for eye care. Doing this will enhance the quality of life for many Canadians and allow them equal opportunities as their sighted counterparts. Furthermore, passing Bill C-284 will also contribute to a more efficient and accessible eye care system.

Bill C-284 has come far, but much more still needs to be done. The imminent passage of this Bill promises improved quality of life for many and signifies a commitment to equality and accessibility in eye care services. Collaborative efforts with vision organizations underscore the collective call for fairness. In essence, Bill C-284 is not just legislation; it’s a pivotal step toward a more inclusive and efficient eye care system for all Canadians.

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