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The Canadian Cancer Society encourages governments across Canada to adopt public policies that will prevent cancer and help people living with cancer.
Read about some recent advocacy successes below.
Support for Canada’s family caregivers
Family caregivers are the backbone of our healthcare system, providing unpaid care estimated at over $25 billion for 2009. Most family caregivers have annual incomes of less than $45,000 and most are women. Family caregivers often become financially, physically and emotionally overwhelmed.
The Canadian Cancer Society has been advocating for better support for caregivers for more than 10 years and has called for a national caregivers strategy.
Our targeted political advocacy efforts have had significant success, including these actions by the federal government:
- January 2009 –passed the Fairness for the Self-Employed Act, allowing self-employed workers to receive compassionate care benefits if they pay into the Employment Insurance program
- February 2012 –announced the Family Caregiver Tax Credit, allowing caregivers to claim a caregiver amount on their tax return
- August 2012 –introduced a new Employment Insurance benefit for parents of critically ill children under 18 years old, allowing caregivers to claim up to 35 weeks of EI benefits
- April 2015 - announced the improvement of the EI Compassionate care benefits from 6 to 26 weeks of benefits to allow family caregivers to take time off work in order to provide care and support to a loved one in palliative care
We will continue to work on minimizing financial burden and to ensure that all Canadians have access to the right care, in the right place, by the right person including good palliative care.
All forms of asbestos cause cancer. The Canadian Cancer Society has long called for all levels of Canadian government to adopt a comprehensive strategy addressing all aspects of asbestos.
We worked to make asbestos an election issue during the Quebec provincial election in summer 2012, and 3 out of 4 major parties promised to oppose the asbestos industry, if elected.
In September 2012, the newly elected provincial government in Quebec cancelled a loan guarantee to the asbestos industry. As a result of this action, the federal government announced it would no longer oppose including chrysotile asbestos in the Rotterdam Convention’s list of hazardous substances.
The Society is urging the federal government to adopt a comprehensive strategy to address all aspects of the asbestos issue, including:
- immediately setting a clear timetable for phasing out the use and export of asbestos
- implementing a national surveillance system to track health outcomes of people who have been exposed to asbestos
- creating a public registry of buildings that contain asbestos
- providing transition support for affected communities
- including chrysotile on the Rotterdam Convention’s Prior Informed Consent list
The Canadian Cancer Society has been at the forefront of tobacco control advocacy for decades. We campaigned to ban smoking in indoor public spaces and workplaces across the country and in recent years we’ve lobbied the federal government to protect the public through:
Graphic warnings on cigarette packaging: In 2000, Canada was the first country to require picture warnings on tobacco packages, with regulations taking effect in 2001. There are now more than 100 countries/jurisdictions that have followed the Canadian model. The pictures graphically show the effects of cancer and tobacco smoking, including colour photographs of cancerous lungs and diseased mouths.
The Society released a study in January 2002 that showed the effectiveness of the graphic warnings.
In 2012, the warnings were increased in size to cover 75% of the package front and back and now include a toll-free quit line number for smokers to call who want assistance in quitting. In many provinces, the quitline service is provided through the Society’s Smokers’ Helpline.
Ban of flavoured tobacco products: In June 2008, after a survey suggested that a high number of teens were experimenting with cigarillos, the Society called for a ban of flavoured tobacco products and met with government representatives to persuade them to take action against this dangerous marketing tactic.
In October 2009, the federal government passed legislation making it illegal to sell flavoured cigarettes, little cigars and blunt wraps in Canada. In subsequent years, provinces adopted legislation on flavoured tobacco, with 7 provinces (AB, ON, QC, NB, NS, PEI, NL) banning flavours including menthol in most or all tobacco products. In 2015, Nova Scotia became the first jurisdiction in the world to ban menthol in cigarettes and other tobacco products. In 2017, a national ban on menthol cigarettes was implemented, with menthol in all tobacco products banned in November 2018.
Indoor tanning bylaws in Ontario
The Town of Oakville, Region of Peel and City of Mississauga passed the first indoor tanning bylaws in Ontario. Ontario is lagging behind other provinces in passing provincial indoor tanning regulations, and these bylaws serve to protect youth under 18 from using and accessing indoor tanning equipment.
Why is this important?
The indoor tanning industry has repeatedly shown that they are not to be trusted to self-regulate. Voluntary guidelines and parental consent do not work, so this is a great step forward in the fight against cancer. These bylaws send a clear message to the Government of Ontario that provincial legislation is clearly needed to regulate the industry and for youth across the province to receive the same level of protection.
Society volunteers and staff have been working to pass indoor tanning legislation for many years, and all the hard work is making an impact through the implementation of these bylaws in Ontario. Thank you for your continued work on this issue.
Learn more about indoor tanning
Did you know that people who start using indoor tanning equipment before the age of 35 increase their risk of melanoma by 59%? Many countries have recognized the dangers of indoor tanning and have put legislation in place to protect the health of their citizens. The Canadian Cancer Society is calling for legislation that prohibits youth under 18 from using indoor tanning equipment.
Ottawa creates gold standard for urban outdoor smoke-free bylaws
Since 2012, Ottawa has had the strongest outdoor smoke-free bylaw of any city in Ontario. The Ottawa bylaw includes beaches, parks and sports fields. Ottawa was also the second city in Ontario to include restaurant and bar patios and the first to designate pedestrian walkways as completely smoke-free.
Why is this important?
Ottawa has set the gold standard for a growing list of municipalities that are protecting the public from the dangers of second-hand smoke by passing bylaws for outdoor smoke-free places.
Society volunteers and staff made outdoor smoke-free spaces a priority in the 2010 municipal elections.Your continued hard work is having results in the implementation of smoke-free bylaws across Ontario.
New outdoor smoke-free bylaws in 5 municipalities
Outdoor smoke-free bylaws are becoming the new normal. Since the 2010 municipal elections, municipalities with outdoor smoke-free bylaws have climbed from 30 to nearly 70 across the province. In 2012, these municipalities all passed new outdoor smoke-free bylaws:
March 2012 – East Gwillimbury bans smoking from parks and playgrounds
April 2012 – Georgina bans smoking from parks, beaches and trails
May 2012 – Vaughan bans smoking from municipal buildings and recreational facilities
July 2012 – Oakville bans smoking from playgrounds and recreational facilities
October 2012 – Lakeshore bans smoking from parks, playgrounds and sports fields
Why is this important?
Together with Ottawa, these 5 municipalities join a rapidly growing list of municipalities protecting the public from the dangers of second-hand smoke by creating outdoor smoke-free spaces. Creating smoke-free places protects people – especially children – from second-hand smoke exposure and helps to de-normalize tobacco use. Children who do not see adults smoking are less likely to begin smoking.
Society volunteers and staff made outdoor smoke-free spaces a priority in the 2010 municipal elections. Your continued hard work is having results in the implementation of smoke-free bylaws across Ontario.
Learn more about tobacco control
Tobacco use continues to be the leading preventable cause of death and disease in Ontario. In Canada, it is estimated that smoking is responsible for 30% of all cancer deaths and is related to more than 85% of lung cancer cases.