Engaging Canadians to Inform a National Diabetes Framework

November 24, 2022

In June 2021, the House of Commons unanimously passed bill C-237 into law as the National Framework for Diabetes Act.  The process outlined in the act required the Minister of Health to consult with relevant stakeholders on the design of a national framework and to report back to Parliament within one year.

Following the fall 2021 federal election, the Public Health Agency of Canada reached out to the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue for support in conducting public engagement for the diabetes framework. In a happy coincidence, Centre Fellow Dr. Diane Finegood has spent much of her career studying diabetes or working in relevant policy and research domains.

With the support of the Centre, Diane and Lee Johnston took the lead in speaking to Canadians whose work and lives are affected by diabetes.  The timeline was short given the delays imposed by the federal election so the engagement process included key informant interviews (Phase One) which provided the basis for two online public dialogues (Phase Two).

Phase One: Interviews

Phase One of the engagement process featured 32 key informant interviews with over 50 individuals. The conversations covered a considerable breadth of experience relevant to diabetes, including perspectives from people with lived experience of diabetes, health care workers, advocates, private sector representatives and researchers, among others.

This phase of the engagement process was intended to help the Public Health Agency of Canada better understand stakeholder priorities, and to inform the design of subsequent dialogue sessions. A full account of this content can be found here.

Phase Two: Dialogues

Phase Two consisted of two open invitation dialogues – one in English and one in French. 84 people took part in the dialogue sessions, which incorporated large and small group discussions. Participants engaged in conversations about inequity, the experience of living with diabetes, issues related to in research and surveillance, and other topics central to addressing diabetes in Canada.

To expand the reach of these efforts, the dialogue discussion guide was also mounted on the Ethelo online survey platform and Canadians were invited to give their input. Over 900 Canadians responded by indicating their preferences and providing an additional 4,850  comments. The results were summarized here.

The results from all stages of the engagement process were also summarized in the Stakeholder Engagement Report, written by Dr. Finegood and Dr. Johnston and published by the Public Health Agency Canada. Key storylines that emerged from our dialogue with the public centered around:

  • The roles that structural inequities play in making preventive and treatment options inaccessible
  • The importance of differentiating between type 1 and type 2 diabetes and tailoring responses to the unique needs they present
  • The importance to move away from approaches that shame and blame people living with diabetes to ones that support them across all stages and phases of their condition
  • The urgent need for accessible and appropriate health care for people living with diabetes

The input collected throughout this engagement process directly informed the development of the Framework for Diabetes in Canada. The Centre’s relationship with the Public Health Agency of Canada is ongoing as Drs. Finegood and Johnston have been enlisted to conduct a new phase of work, this time to help support Canada’s diabetes community engage with the framework itself.

Partner Organization

The Public Health Agency of Canada is part of the federal health portfolio, with the mission  to promote and protect the health of Canadians through leadership, partnership, innovation and action in public health. Its activities focus on preventing disease and injuries, responding to public health threats, promoting good physical and mental health, and providing information to support informed decision making.


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