Canadian Cancer Society applauds budget that fuels the cancer fight

17 April 2012

Winnipeg, Manitoba -

The Manitoba Division of the Canadian Cancer Society today applauded provincial budget initiatives that will add nearly $15 million to the provincial cancer fight.

Initiatives announced in today’s budget will:

  • Make cancer treatment and support drugs available to all Manitobans at no cost
  • Increase access to cancer treatments by expanding its CancerCare department’s regional hub network
  • Reduce wait times for a diagnosis and treatments
  • Recruit more pathologists to Manitoba
  • Add $1.3 million to help Manitobans quit smoking

“For thousands of Manitobans fighting cancer, this is a good news budget,” Mark McDonald, Executive Director for the Canadian Cancer Society, Manitoba Division said. “We’re pleased that even during these challenging economic times that the government has taken action to fulfill its election promises.’’

McDonald said the Cancer Society was particularly pleased that the finance minister set out the government’s priority by telling the legislature it would “provide faster testing and treatment and provide free cancer drugs for all patients allowing them to remain at home during treatment."

We look forward to the implementation of these programs that will be life-changing for some Manitobans,’’ he said.

This year, an estimated 6,100 Manitobans will be diagnosed with cancer and sadly eight people will die every day from the disease.

The government’s budget announcement fulfills an almost two year effort by the Cancer Society to improve coverage and access to cancer treatment. After consulting with Manitobans, the Cancer Society adopted three key cancer priorities. Last summer, more than 13,000 Manitobans signed petition letters in support of these priorities.

In its 2012 budget, the provincial government maintained its tobacco control and cessation spending at 2011 levels and added $1.3 to help Manitobans quit smoking by covering the cost of the prescription cessation drug Champix, which is a proven, effective treatment for adult smokers who want to quit.

The budget also increases the CancerCare Manitoba budget so it can proceed with its regional treatment hubs. Funds have also been set aside to reduce wait times and attract new pathologists to the province.

However, it is the government’s commitment to cover the costs of oral treatment and support drugs that will significantly impact the lives of a growing number of Manitoba cancer patients.

Until now, only cancer drugs taken in a clinical setting were provided to patients at no cost. Cancer patients taking treatments in a pill form are required to pay for them through the provincial PharmaCare budget. This means that in some cases, patients can spend up to $42,000 in a single year for drugs. Last summer, the Cancer Society collected more than 13,000 petition letters in support of extending drug coverage. In addition, a survey of Manitobans found that 9 out of 10 supported the government covering the cost of these prescription drugs and treatments.

This budget means that Manitoba and Saskatchewan are the only provinces in Canada to cover the cost of oral cancer treatment and support drugs no matter where they are taken – at home or in the hospital.

It allows patients to focus their energy on beating cancer rather than worrying about things like the cost of drugs, getting access to treatment, or putting a financial burden on their family,” McDonald said. “The sooner we introduce these measures, the sooner cancer patients will benefit.”

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:

Jason Permanand

Communications Manager

Canadian Cancer Society

Manitoba

Phone: 204-990-4310