Canada and France Encourage Global Action on Dementia

Leading researchers and industry experts discuss how to accelerate the development of new treatments and technologies to improve the lives of people with dementia and their families and caregivers

Ottawa, Ontario – The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Canada’s Minister of Health, and Mr. Philippe Zeller, Ambassador of France to Canada,today welcomed leading dementia researchers and industry experts from G7 countries to Ottawa for the Canada-France Global Dementia Legacy Event. Minister Ambrose and Ambassador Zeller were joined by Dr. Dennis Gillings, the World Dementia Envoy, Dr. Alain Beaudet, President of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and Pr. Yves Levy, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm) and Chairman of the French National Alliance for Life Sciences and Healthcare (Aviesan).

The Canada-France Global Dementia Legacy Event is the second in a series of four such events stemming from the Summit on Dementia held in London, UK, in December 2013. Over the next two days, delegates will hear from global dementia experts, as well as people living with dementia and family members. They will also begin the development of an action framework to address the challenges and barriers for collaboration between academia and industry. The framework will aim to accelerate the transformation of dementia research into real life products or services to prevent, delay the onset, and help people living with dementia, their families, as well as those who care for them.

In her address to delegates, Minister Ambrose recognized the significant impact dementia has on individuals, families, and caregivers and made a number of announcements highlighting the Government of Canada’s coordinated approach to dementia.

The Minister announced:

The release of Mapping Connections: An Understanding of Neurological Conditions in Canada, which presents the findings from the most comprehensive study of neurological conditions ever to be conducted in Canada. The National Population Health Study of Neurological Conditions, is a four-year, $15 million undertaking, led by the Public Health Agency of Canada in partnership with Neurological Health Charities Canada, a collaborative of 24 charities representing individuals and families impacted by neurological conditions across the country. The study examined 14 neurological conditions including Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

The release of the National Dementia Research and Prevention Plan, a publication outlining the Government of Canada’s investments, partnerships and key initiatives related to dementia research and prevention to improve the standards of care and reduce the burden on families dealing with dementia.

The Government of Canada’s intention to work with the Alzheimer Society of Canada to bring “Dementia Friends” to Canada in the coming year. Dementia Friends is a unique program originally launched in Japan as “Dementia Supporters” and more recently as “Dementia Friends” in the UK. In both countries, the program has been very successful in making daily life better for thousands of people with dementia. Dementia Friends will help Canadians become better informed about how they can support people living with dementia in their communities. Joining the Minister in support of this announcement was Ms. Mimi Lowi-Young, Chief Executive Officer of ASC.

Following the Minister’s announcement Faye Forbes spoke as a person living with dementia followed by Matthew Dineen who is caring for his wife.

Quick Facts

  • It is estimated that between 6 and 15% of Canadians aged 65 years and older suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. With an aging population, this figure could double over the next seventeen years. Canada is not alone. This is why last December, G7 countries committed to increase international collaboration and knowledge exchange to tackle the challenge of dementia.
  • The Canada-France Global Dementia Legacy Event is the second in a series of four events stemming from the Summit on Dementia held in London, UK, in December 2013. The UK hosted the first Legacy Event in June 2014. The two other events will be hosted by Japan in fall 2014 and the United States in winter 2015. A wrap up session will be held in 2015 to share the outcomes of all the Legacy Events and set the path forward to finding a cure for dementia by 2025.
  • The Canada-France Dementia Legacy Event is being attended by 200 global leaders in academia and industry from G7 countries and other major international organizations. Delegates will produce an action framework to address current challenges and barriers for enhanced collaboration between academia and industry.


“The impact of dementia on individuals, caregivers, families, and national economies are significant. Our Government is providing national and international leadership in dementia that will lead to prevention, treatment, research and better care for people living with dementia. We must continue to work together to stem the tide and improve our understanding of these conditions, to alleviate the suffering it causes. I applaud organizations like the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada for the work they are doing and look forward to bringing initiatives like Dementia Friends to Canada.” – Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health

“The National Population Health Study of Neurological Conditions is the most comprehensive study of neurological conditions ever to be conducted in Canada. This research has given us a clearer picture of neurological conditions and their impacts. This is an important base of information needed by governments, health charities, healthcare providers and communities to ultimately help improve the lives of individuals living with their conditions, their families and caregivers.” – Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health

“Thanks to successive government plans to fight Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, France was quick to introduce a voluntary policy in this area. Indeed, beyond the scientific, medical and social challenges that these diseases present, it is important to develop closer ties between researchers in academia and industry. I am convinced that, by strengthening our collaboration and international partnerships, the legacy event hosted by Canada and France will help to foster innovative solutions.” – Philippe Zeller, Ambassador of France to Canada

“The Alzheimer Society welcomes the Federal government’s ongoing commitment to dementia and is excited to partner with the Public Health Agency of Canada on such an important and far-reaching program. Dementia is one of the biggest challenges facing our country today, impacting 747,000 Canadians and their families. Yet, there is much misunderstanding and fear about this disease. Individuals as well as caregivers often feel isolated and devalued. Dementia Friends will help raise awareness, reduce stigma and more importantly, provide the gift of friendship. By becoming a dementia friend, whether it’s a neighbour, business owner or cab driver, we can all make a huge difference in the quality of life of people with dementia and interact with them in a more meaningful way.” – Mimi Lowi-Young, CEO, Alzheimer Society of Canada

“Mapping Connections represents an extensive collaborative effort to gather new information about neurological conditions in Canada. Through Neurological Health Charities Canada’s partnership with the Government of Canada, the voice and lived experience of Canadians impacted by neurological conditions shaped the study. We look forward to using the study findings to help improve the lives of all Canadians affected by neurological conditions.” – Joyce Gordon, Chair, Neurological Health Charities Canada

“With no cure for dementia on the horizon but over 36 million people living with dementia around the world, urgent action is needed. Due to barriers to investment just three drugs have been developed in over 15 years, that’s simply not good enough. Without urgent global action to speed up research and increase investment, the G7 countries will not meet their target date of 2025 to find a disease-modifying theray or hopefully, cure. With Canada and France leading the way on what is needed to be done, this event shows how academia and industry can work together to produce results. It is only by creative, innovative thinking and sharing data that an effective treatment will be found.” – Dr. Dennis Gillings, World Dementia Envoy

“We have been successful in building strong partnerships amongst academics and, increasingly, patient groups, involved in dementia research. But this is not enough. To succeed, industry and academia must now strengthen how they collaborate to improve the speed and ease by which they transfer knowledge, ideas and technology. This event and the commitment that is bringing us together will make the difference in our search for solutions.” – Dr. Alain Beaudet, President, Canadian Institutes of Health Research

“France and Canada have a long-lasting partnership in biomedical research and have a track record of engaging in international research consortia on dementia such as the France-chaired EU Joint Programme – Neurodegenerative Diseases. I am convinced that this event will give opportunities for enhancing partnership between industry and academic research, which is key for accelerating research in dementia.” – Prof. Yves Lévy, CEO, French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm) and Chairman of Aviesan (the French National Alliance for Life Sciences and Healthcare)

(Source: Canadian Institutes of Health Research)