The federal government has announced funding for a national research program to look into dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Health Minister Rona Ambrose was in Montreal today to announce the launch of the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging.

The hope is to bring together the expertise and talents of 340 researchers who are part of 20 teams across Canada that study what is a major public health issue worldwide.

The group will be headquartered at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal.

Ambrose says the problem has dramatically increased over the years and will only get worse as the population ages.

Calming Dementia Patients

According to the government, an estimated 747,000 Canadians were living with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia in 2011. (Ernst Peters, The Ledger/Associated Press)

The consortium is receiving $31.5 million from the federal government and several partners, as well as an additional, separate $24 million from partners in Ontario and Quebec.

"Dementia and dementia-related illnesses are only going to continue to increase to the point where they could very well overwhelm our health-care system when it comes to cost and care," Ambrose told reporters Wednesday.

"We've got to get ahead of it, we've got to look at prevention and we've got to focus on ways to support caregivers who are taking care of people with dementia."

According to the government, an estimated 747,000 Canadians were living with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia in 2011.

In two decades, it is estimated that 1.4 million Canadians will have dementia, costing the economy almost $300 billion per year.

Ambrose will make another announcement on Thursday in Ottawa at the Canada-France Global Legacy Event, a two-day gathering of about 200 experts from G7 countries on dementia care and treatment, as well as ways of improving the lives of caregivers.