The Canadian Diabetes Association unveiled its Diabetes Charter on Monday, welcome news for people living with the illness in Manitoba.

Deanna Ratt has had Type 2 diabetes for the past five years, and some days, it’s so painful for her to walk, she’s unable to go up or down stairs.

The disease has caused nerve damage in her feet and fingers, leaving her with near-constant pain.

“Right now, it’s tingling, and it hurts,” Ratt said Monday afternoon.

Ratt said the news that a charter had been created that was devoted to raising awareness about the difficulty of having the disease and how to address misinformation about it was encouraging.

“It’s very significant. Bringing all the stakeholders together and having an actual, living document that you can look at and know – that gives you hope,” she said.

Ratt is one of 112,000 people in Manitoba living with diabetes. In the next 10 years, that number is expected to grow up 156,000.

Andrea Kwasnicki, Manitoba’s regional director for the Canadian Diabetes Association, said the charter will help to raise awareness, improve health care and make patients’ lives better.

“[We will] work together with government, with workplaces to encourage healthy living, physical activity, healthy food choices, so the overall [health care] costs are eliminated or reduced,” she said.

Those efforts are especially critical on Manitoba’s First Nations, according to Leon Simard, a First Nations food security co-ordinator with Four Arrows Regional Health Authority.

Simard said access to dialysis machines is sometimes non-existent on First Nations, and poverty can prevent patients from affording their medications as well as healthy foods.

“A lot of times people are on fixed incomes, and the food choices are not always the healthiest, but they are the most economical,” said Simard.