The following policy brief has been commissioned by The Canadian Continence Foundation (TCCF) to help government address the unmet needs of Canadians living with incontinence. Incontinence is a chronic condition that continues to carry an enormous stigma. Incontinence can impact all parts of a
persons’ life: social interactions, sex life, ability to work, travel, play sports, and participate in community life.

An extremely conservative estimate of the prevalence of incontinence in Canada indicates that 7% of Canadian women and 3.5% of Canadian men experience moderate to severe incontinence on a daily basis.  Many studies suggest that the prevalence is significantly higher. Incontinence takes a serious
emotional toll on those living with the condition. Women living with incontinence are more likely to suffer from depression than their continent peers. In one study, urinary incontinence, Alzheimer’s disease and stroke were the three chronic conditions found to most adversely affect an individuals’ health-related quality of life.

Incontinence is not only costly to individuals, but also to employers and the health care system.  An individual with incontinence will spend $1,500 per year on products. Furthermore, incontinence costs Canadian employers over 11 million days of lost work, and over $1.5 billion in lost productivity. Incontinence will also add $1.9 billion in health care costs to the Canadian system on a yearly basis.  In total, incontinence will cost Canadians nearly $5.6 billion annually.

The Canadian Continence Foundation proposes the following to policy makers:

  • Increase education about incontinence to both the public and health professionals.
  • Include access to urinary incontinence treatments in the wait times strategy.
  • Increase funding to allow for more treatment to be provided to people with stress incontinence, such as surgical correction of stress incontinence with slings. As a first step, the Canadian Continence Foundation urges the Ontario government to provide $16 million in dedicated funding for mid urethral sling procedures to ensure that incontinent individuals are treated in a timely manner.
  • Fund the creation of community-based continence care clinics.
  • Increased funding to allow access to conservative treatments and therapies.
  • Include all drugs to treat urinary incontinence on provincial formularies.
  • Increase the daily funding allotment for absorbent products in long term care facilities to allow the use of a new diaper as required.
  • Increase funding for the purchase of absorbent products for those individuals living on fixed incomes.
  • Increase funding for the purchase of catheters for individuals living in the community and in institutions.