Sudbury

Apparent voting mistake kills NDP MP Claude Gravelle's dementia strategy bill

The MP for Nickel Belt says he's frustrated that a bill to create a national dementia strategy has failed over what appears to be a voting mistake by a Liberal MP.

Legislation would have required federal health minister to start discussions with provinces on strategy

The MP for Nickel Belt says he's frustrated that a bill to create a national dementia strategy has failed over what appears to be a voting mistake by a Liberal MP. 

Claude Gravelle has been working on the bill for years.

If Bill C-356 Respecting a National Strategy for Dementia became law, it would have required the federal health minister to start discussions with the provinces as a first step towards a national plan deal with dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

Nickel Belt NDP MP Claude Gravelle had been working on a bill to create a national strategy for dementia for years.

But the bill failed a critical vote last Wednesday in the House of Commons by 140 to 139.

The tying vote could have come from Liberal MP Yvonne Jones, but Gravelle said she failed to stand up in the House of Commons and register her vote.

"To forget to stand up and vote, you either have to be dead in your seat because everyone around you is standing up, behind you, beside you, in front of you," he said. "For someone to say they forgot to stand up doesn't do it for me."

Gravelle said he was told all Liberal MPs would be voting in favour of the bill.

That final deciding vote also could have come from Conservative MP Joe Preston who initially voted in favour, but then change his vote to a nay.

Bill now dead

In the event of a tie, Gravelle said the bill would have moved on to committee for further discussion. Instead, he said the potential legislation is dead and cannot be re-introduced during this session of Parliament.

"I'm very disappointed for the patients, the doctors, for the caregivers," said Gravelle whose mother suffered from dementia.

"In my case, when my mom was living and my dad was having to look after her at night, he had to sleep with one eye open. [Families] need help."

According to a new study commissioned by the Alzheimer Society of Canada, the number of Canadians living with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias now stands at 747,000 and will double to 1.4 million by 2031.

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