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The leading cause of death in Quebec is not a top priority for political parties - The CCS is disappointed with the lack of real commitment to tackling the challenges of cancer

04 April 2014

Montreal -

Just before the April 7 provincial elections, the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) is presenting a summary of political parties’ commitment to the fight against cancer. The CCS asked political parties to take a stand on four major issues:
  • The amendment of the Tobacco Act within the first 100 days of taking office
  • Fair access to palliative care
  • The cost of cancer treatments
  • The financial burden on the families of people living with cancer

The parties’ responses are critical for people living with cancer. While the Parti Québécois (PQ) and Québec solidaire (QS) took the time to set out their ideas, neither the Quebec Liberal Party nor the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) did this. So, the CCS had to analyze their respective positions from their public speeches during the election campaign.

In addition, the CCS made a friendly communication tool available to Quebecers to help them put their questions to candidates directly. More than 2,000 messages were sent through the passezalaction.cancer.ca/quebec microsite to reach candidates in 117 ridings regarding the urgent need for action in the fight against tobacco and for fair access to palliative care.

Where the protection of youths against smoking is concerned, no party promised to amend the Tobacco Act in the first 100 days of office. The PQ unequivocally committed to “making changes to the Tobacco Act before the end of 2014.” QS plans to create a process that would amend “all laws that have a bearing on the deciding factors of health” and points out that a four-year term is needed to do so. The CAQ takes the same line as the PQ and commits to “working collaboratively towards its strengthening as soon as possible.” Surprisingly, while its leader was a nationwide champion of tobacco regulation in 2005, the Quebec Liberal Party is now content to just say that “the strengthening of the law is desirable.”

As for palliative care, citizens made use of the space for expression provided to them to send numerous messages to their candidates, such as this Gatineau riding resident: “[…] I know to what extent a palliative care team can make a difference not only for the quality of life and comfort of the sick person, but also for their family and friends. Thank you for making this question a priority in your election platform.” The PQ has promised to allocate more resources to palliative care while QS stated that “palliative care should be available in both home care and hospitals as well as other institutions that provide end-of-life care.”

Regarding the cost of drugs, the PQ has “the intention to continue registering new anti-cancer drugs for coverage” and is open to negotiating agreements with the pharmaceutical industry. QS plans to introduce a public and universal drug insurance scheme as well as a provincial hub called Pharma Québec for the procurement and production of drugs.

Concerning the financial burden on families, no concrete proposal was put forward by any of the parties.

The resulting picture is mixed: if parties were more forthcoming about general healthcare promises, they were much more reserved about the fight against cancer. “In spite of being questioned by citizens and the CCS, those aspiring to be elected to form the next government seem to have little concern for the fight against the leading cause of death in Quebec. In fact, they have very few or no proposals to check the rising incidence of cancer in Quebec or to offer greater support for thousands of Quebecers touched by the disease,” says Suzanne Dubois, Executive Director, CCS – Quebec Division.

Cancer by the numbers
  • Last year, there were 48,000 new cancer cases and 20,200 cancer-related deaths in Quebec.
  • Tobacco is responsible for 30% of all cancers.
  • Quebec still has 1.6 million smokers.
  • 50% of cancer-related pain is not alleviated.
  • 80% of cancer patients wish to die at home, but only a small fraction, that is 10%, actually can.

Every day, the Canadian Cancer Society works to save more lives. With the support of thousands of Quebecers, donors and volunteers, we fight to prevent more cancers, enable our researchers to make more discoveries, and help more people touched by the disease. Let’s save more lives. Visit cancer.ca or call us at 1 888 939-3333.

For more information, please contact:

André Beaulieu

Spokesperson and Senior Advisor, Public Relations

Canadian Cancer Society

Quebec Division

Phone: (514) 393-3444