Canadian Cancer Society calls SK budget bittersweet for cancer fight

22 March 2017

Regina -

The Canadian Cancer Society is applauding today’s provincial budget for two measures it says will significantly reduce the risk of cancer: the introduction of the HPV vaccination for Grade 6 boys and an increase in tobacco taxes.

The government announced it will spend $750,000 to begin vaccinating Grade 6 boys against human papillomavirus or HPV. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in Canada.

“This important decision to vaccinate Saskatchewan boys will prevent many types of cancers in the future, and thus save lives and healthcare dollars,” says Donna Ziegler, Director Cancer Control with the Canadian Cancer Society.

According to the 2016 Canadian Cancer Statistics, the rate of HPV mouth and throat cancers increased 56% among males over a 20 year period. In Canada, men are more than 4 times more likely to be diagnosed with oral cancer than women. Grade 6 girls in Saskatchewan have been receiving the HPV vaccination since 2008. For several years the Canadian Cancer Society and physicians have been advocating that boys be included in the school vaccination program.

“As a surgeon treating patients with HPV related cancers and a father of four boys, I am very excited that the Ministry of Health will be providing the HPV vaccine to boys and girls alike,” says Gary Groot, Director of Surgical Oncology at the University of Saskatchewan. “The Ministry’s leadership and upstream thinking will prevent future generations from having to suffer from these preventable diseases.”

The Society is also applauding the tobacco tax increase, calling it a ‘smart consumption tax’ that will help to reduce tobacco use in the province.

“Every time the price of tobacco goes up, smokers look at what it’s costing their pocketbook and their health. As a result, a lot of smokers use it as an incentive to quit or cut back,” says Donna Pasiechnik, Manager Tobacco Control, Media and Government Relations for the Canadian Cancer Society in Saskatchewan.

Effective midnight the cost for a carton of 200 cigarettes will increase by $4.00. The last tobacco tax increase in Saskatchewan was in 2013. “I have no doubt that this tobacco tax hike today will reduce smoking, especially among teenagers who are sensitive to price,” added Pasiechnik.

New data released this morning from the Canadian Community Health Survey for 2015, show 22% of Saskatchewan residents aged 12+ still smoke compared to the national average of 18%. Saskatchewan’s smoking rate is the second highest in the country, next to Newfoundland at 24%.

In regard to the announcement that STC will be closing, the Society does not yet know the impact the move will have on people who require the service to get to cancer treatments. Over the coming months we will be monitoring the situation talking to our clients and working with stakeholders to find ways to support cancer 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.