Top 10 Advocacy Stories of 2016
02 December 2016
Advocacy led by the Canadian Cancer Society is making a difference. With your support, we work with governments and legislators to develop strong public policies. Our staff and volunteers meet with elected officials from local, provincial and national governments to persuade them to make the fight against cancer one of their top priorities. We attend hearings, engage in consultations and encourage Canadians to advocate through our takeaction.cancer.ca website.
These stories highlight some of our advocacy activities for this year. These stories show our dedication to finding new and better ways to protect the health of Canadians, shrink cancer rates and reduce cancer’s toll on our country. We thank our donors for making these important activities possible.
Tobacco plain packaging moving forward
On May 31 – World No Tobacco Day – the Society applauded Health Minister Jane Philipott for launching a 3-month consultation on plain packaging. During Relay For Life events, we collected more than 31,000 signatures from Canadians supporting plain packaging. The government’s Bill S-5, given first reading in November, will set the stage for subsequent plain packaging regulations. In November, we issued our report, Cigarette Package Health Warnings: International Status Report, documenting the momentum for plain packaging. Four countries have finalized plain packaging requirements and 14 others are working on it. Also in November, Quebec set a world precedent by requiring a larger minimum surface area for package warnings. As a result, some superslim packs were removed from the market.
Boys now included in 6 HPV vaccination programs in schools
This year, we actively campaigned in British Columbia and Ontario to have boys included in publicly funded HPV vaccination programs and to increase HPV vaccination rates overall. We were encouraged to learn that boys in Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec will begin receiving HPV vaccines through these programs. The inclusion of boys is especially timely – the 2016 Canadian Cancer Statistics shows that rates of HPV mouth and throat cancers in men have risen sharply. We will continue to advocate to include boys in publicly funded HPV vaccination programs across Canada.
Compassionate care benefit is extended by 20 weeks
Caregivers often juggle professional and personal responsibilities to take care of loved ones who have cancer and other debilitating diseases. And 89% of caregivers will spend a year providing care. In 2015, the government extended the amount of time that people are entitled to benefits from 6 weeks to 26 weeks. The extension of the Compassionate Care Benefit came into effect in January 2016.
Tobacco taxes increased in several provinces
What’s one of the most effective ways to encourage smokers to quit and prevent youth from starting to use tobacco? Increase the price. A price increase of 10% will decrease consumption by about 4%, and even more than that among youth. New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Ontario all saw an increase in tobacco taxes this year. The Society applauds the public health benefits.
Menu labelling starts on January 1, 2017
Obesity carries with it many consequences for health, including an increased risk of cancer. Society-funded research has shown that including nutrition information on restaurant menus helps people consume significantly fewer calories. On January 1, 2017, Ontario becomes the first province in Canada to feature calories on menus. We hope that menu labelling will help Ontarians make healthier food and beverage choices when dining or ordering out and help raise awareness about the calorie content of food and beverages prepared outside the home.
Canadian research funding grows by $30 million
Excellence in health research is essential not only to Canadians, but also to our global impact on health and disease. Canada must continue to build a strong, internationally competitive health sciences community. This year’s federal budget saw a $30 million increase in annual investments in health research through the Canadian Institutes for Health Research. We’re advocating for long-term investments in health research that keep up with rising costs and population growth and are delivered through funding programs that maximize the impact of every dollar.
Federal support for asbestos action – taking the next step
Earlier this year, we were extremely pleased by the federal government’s publicly expressed support for action against asbestos. And in October, an official public inventory of Canadian government buildings containing asbestos became available online. In addition, the Society welcomed the introduction of Bill C-321 an Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (prohibition of asbestos). We will work with the government on the next step – a complete, nationwide ban on asbestos use that they announced in mid-December. Canada will be following the lead of more than 50 other countries worldwide that have banned the import, export, use and manufacture of asbestos and asbestos products.
Federal Minister of Health announces national ban on menthol cigarettes
In April, the Society applauded Health Minister Jane Philpott’s announcement of a planned national ban on menthol cigarettes. This ban protects our youth as menthol masks the harsh taste of tobacco smoke and makes it easier for kids to experiment and become addicted. So far, 7 provinces have adopted the legislation to ban menthol, with Nova Scotia being the first jurisdiction in the world to do so. Alberta, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador are the other provinces.
Stop marketing to kids movement gains momentum
The Society is a proud supporting member of the Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition urging governments to restrict the marketing of food and beverages to all Canadian children under 16. This year, the coalition applauded Senator Nancy Greene Raine for introducing legislation prohibiting food and beverage marketing to children. The coalition was also excited to host a panel discussion with British chef Jamie Oliver and Canadian healthy eating advocates. Together, we have an unprecedented opportunity to adopt robust, evidence-informed marketing restrictions and position Canada as a global leader in children’s health.
Federal government to invest $3 billion in palliative care
This year we welcomed the renewed federal commitment to improve palliative care in Canada. The government has committed to follow through on its campaign promise to invest $3 billion over 4 years in better home and palliative care, and to use current negotiations with provinces on a new national health accord to ensure these investments achieve meaningful results.