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National Pharmacare plan is 'life-changing,' says Port Moody woman living with Type 1 diabetes

Port Moody's Linda Zumm was speaking at an appearance by federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh.
Port Moody's Linda Zumm, right, chats with federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and the MP for Port Moody–Coquitlam, Bonita Zarrillo, about the new national Pharmacare plan that promises free medication and devices for people living with diabetes.

Even at 69 years old, life is still speeding along for Linda Zumm.

Retired from her banking career, Zumm fills her days with yoga, walks with her husband from their Port Moody home, visits with her former colleagues from the international payments department at the Bank of Montreal and travel.

She does it all while living with a chronic disease.

Zumm was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 26.

Despite generous health benefits from both her own and her husband’s employers that continue even in their retirements, Zumm estimates managing her disease has cost her about $100,000 to pay for the insulin that keeps her alive, as well as the evolution of technology to deliver it — from hypodermic syringes and little test strips that allow a pocket-sized glucometer to test the levels of sugars in her blood to the computerized pump and continuous glucose monitor she’s been wearing on her belt for the past 12 years.

Monday, April 22, Zumm was Exhibit A at the constituency office of Port Moody–Coquitlam MP Bonita Zarrillo for an appearance by the leader of the federal New Democratic Party Jagmeet Singh.

He was there to tout the importance of a national Pharmacare plan put together in collaboration with the federal Liberal party but could be in peril depending on the results of the next federal election, scheduled to occur by Oct. 20, 2025.

Singh said the plan, which was recently affirmed by the governing Liberals in its 2024 budget, means people like Zumm living with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes won’t be out of pocket for the medicine and technology that helps them lead full, active lives and a “one-stop shop” to provide that support will reduce the stress and anxiety of navigating the myriad rules and eligibility requirements currently in place to get expenses covered by provincial and private health insurance plans.

“We want to make sure everyone in our country gets the medicine and devices they need,” Singh said, adding the plan also provides free access to women for birth control.

Singh said recent statements by the leader of the federal Progressive Conservative party, Pierre Poilievre, indicate the new benefit may never come to pass if his party forms the next government.

“Conservatives want to kill Pharmacare,” Singh said.

Zumm said while private insurance has helped ease the financial burden of managing her disease, she empathizes with younger people who don’t enjoy such a comfort because they don’t have access to private insurance or can’t afford it because of precarious employment.

Zumm said not having to make a choice between paying for insulin or putting groceries in the refrigerator can be “life-changing for a lot of people.”

She said that certainty will benefit everyone, as people living with diabetes will be able to take better control of managing their disease so they’re less likely to need treatment for complications.

Zumm said since getting on a pump, that continuously monitors her blood sugar levels and delivers the appropriate amount of insulin to keep them optimal, she’s rarely had to go the hospital’s emergency department to treat a dangerous low.

“Since I’ve been on the pump, my husband has never had to call 911,” she said. “We need these devices to lead a healthy, productive life.”

Which is something everyone should have the right to enjoy, added Singh.

“We invest in people and lift people up,” he said.