Kathleen Romans

Kathleen Romans gathers names on a petition to start an insulin pump funding program in P.E.I. (CBC)

A P.E.I. woman has gathered 1,600 names on a petition asking the province to pay for insulin pumps.

P.E.I. is the only province that does not have a publicly funded insulin pump program.

Kathleen Romans started the petition in the spring and plans to present it to government during the fall sitting of the legislature.

Romans has been a Type 1 diabetic for 20 years.

She can't afford an insulin pump.

They cost about $7,000, plus $300 a month for supplies.

"I'd really love to have a pump. It would regulate my blood sugar so that I would have a much better quality of life," she said.

Many of P.E.I.'s 600 Type 1 diabetics probably can't afford an insulin pump either, Romans said.

"I'd really love to see it for everybody here."

$470K net savings

The Prince Edward Island Diabetes Association has been lobbying the government for two years.

It estimates the yearly cost of a pump program would be $400,000.

But it says the pumps could save money by preventing expensive complications.

"By the year 2032, we've estimated that it's going to be a net cost savings to the government of about $470,000 a year," said Terry Lewis, manager of community engagement in Atlantic Canada

Marilyn Barrett, Health PEI's director of primary care and chronic disease, said she can see P.E.I. going in the direction of insulin pumps, but she's not sure when.

A government committee was struck in June to look at gaps in diabetes services.

Romans said $400,000 should not be a barrier:

"That's the cost of small roundabout. Don't tell me there isn't money to make 600 potential people on the Island healthier," she said.

Romans will present her petition to the health minister next month.