Canadian Cancer Society Urges Health Ministers to Focus on Prevention, Access to Drugs, Palliative Care and Caregiver Support in Health Accord Discussions

23 November 2011

Toronto -

The Canadian Cancer Society calls on Canada’s health ministers to strongly consider four key priorities critical to improving and ensuring the health of Canadians – prevention, access to drugs, palliative care and caregiver support – at the upcoming health ministers meeting in Halifax on November 24 and 25 and throughout the health accord discussions.

These four crucial healthcare issues are highlighted in an open letter to health ministers that the Society posted on its website today.

“The discussions in Halifax, along with those that will follow in the year ahead, present an opportunity for government to show leadership and accountability crucial to improving the health outcomes of all Canadians at a time when they need it the most,” says Dan Demers, Director, Public Issues, Canadian Cancer Society. “The 2004 health accord was an important first step, but it is not reflective of the growing needs and priorities of Canadians today. The Society looks forward to working collaboratively with all levels of government to improve the health outcomes of Canadians.”

Prevention

The Society notes that approximately half of all cancers can be prevented through healthy living and policies that protect the health of Canadians, including strategies that combat tobacco use, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity and alcohol consumption. Prevention offers a cost-effective long-term strategy for the control of cancer and can be achieved through sustainable funding for access to screening and vaccines, as well as programs and initiatives aimed at reducing exposure to carcinogens and promoting active and healthy lifestyles.

Access to drugs

When looking at the issue of cancer drug accessibility, Demers says that 85 per cent of Canadians, if diagnosed tomorrow, would struggle to afford their cancer drugs. This means that 7.5 million families would potentially find it difficult to make ends meet in order to buy the medication they need. The upcoming health accord negotiations are a vital opportunity for governments to finally address this issue in a meaningful way for the many Canadians facing cancer.

Palliative care

The Society also points to the reality that as Canada’s population ages there will be increasing need for palliative care services. The Canadian Cancer Society is asking that the next health accord address palliative care as part of the continuum of care in our health system, and include adequate funding to ensure palliative care is accessible to every Canadian.

Family caregiver support

The Canadian Cancer Society also calls for additional financial, practical and emotional assistance for caregivers, plus increased flexibility in labour laws and benefit programs to ensure workers are able to care for their loved ones. Caregivers are the invisible backbone of our healthcare system and are critical to its sustainability and to the health, wellbeing and care of patients.

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

For more information, please contact:

Christine Harminc

Senior Manager, Communications & Media Relations

Canadian Cancer Society

Phone: 416 934-5340