Minister of Health Ted Flemming announced the Live Well! program in Woodstock on Monday. (Susan King/CBC)

The New Brunswick government will be investing $1.2 million toward Type 2 diabetes prevention and self-management, Health Minister Ted Flemming announced in Woodstock on Monday.

The money will be used over the next three years for the Live Well! project, a collaboration with the Canadian Diabetes Association and Medavie Health Foundation, which are also contributing a combined $300,000.

The program, the first of its kind in Canada, uses a community approach for the prevention and management of Type 2 diabetes through lifestyle changes, said Flemming.

New Brunswickers interested in the program will be able to sign up with a health coach directly, or be referred by their physician. The coaches will act as mentors, using one-on-one interaction to help people identify and achieve their wellness goals.

Premier David Alward, who was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes four years ago, says the coaches will provide a more personal service to the estimated 77,000 people across the province with the disease.

"Having a coach, someone to mentor, to work with that is in the community versus within the health care system per se is really going to make a big difference, absolutely," he said.

Will start in 6 communities

The program is slated to launch in six communities this month, including Woodstock, where Catherine Meyrand will be the health coach.

 "I am not going to be clinical, so I am not going to be set in my office, waiting for clients," she said. "I am going to meet people where they feel comfortable — is it at the grocery store where they want to meet, or having a walk and just discussing together."

The Live Well! program will also be offered in the Acadian Peninsula, Edmundston, Miramichi, Moncton, and Saint John this month.

'Diabetes has reached epidemic proportions … It is critical that we work together to help bring positive, sustainable change at the community level. '  —Michael Cloutier, Canadian Diabetes Association

"Diabetes has reached epidemic proportions among the Canadian population, with the highest rates here in Atlantic Canada, President and CEO of the Canadian Diabetes Association, Michael Cloutier, stated in a release.

"It is critical that we work together to help bring positive, sustainable change at the community level."

The number of New Brunswickers with diabetes is expected to rise to 128,000 by 2032, which is above the national average.

Obesity is a key risk factor for Type 2 diabetes. In New Brunswick, 63 per cent of adults aged 18 and older and 24 per cent of children and youth aged 12 to17 are overweight or obese.

Harold Perlman was diagnosed more than 12 years ago.

"You don't know anything about the disease, you don't know [how to] service the situation, you don't know how to lead a normal life. You are shocked to [do] something suddenly," he said.

Now Perlman eats a healthier diet and makes regular visits to a doctor.