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Success stories

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 2009passed 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 2012announced the Family Caregiver Tax Credit, allowing caregivers to claim a caregiver amount on their tax return
    • August 2012introduced 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
    Moving forward

    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.

  • Asbestos

    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.

    Moving forward

    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
  • Tobacco control

    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.

Success stories in Quebec

  • The gains made by Quebec in the fight against artificial tanning
    The CCS’s demands

    The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) – Quebec Division pressured MNAs in the National Assembly to ban the sale of artificial tanning services to minors.

    The gains made by the CCS

    On February 11, 2013, An Act to prevent skin cancer caused by artificial tanning came into force.

    This law is a significant gain for the CCS to protect Quebecers from the harmful effects of artificial UV rays. It sends a clear message to the public on the risky nature of tanning. The following are the CCS’s key gains, which are included in the legislation:

    • Ban on the sale of artificial tanning services to minors
    • Ban on advertising that targets minors and advertising that is misleading
    • Warning on the harmful effects of artificial tanning
    • Mandatory declaration of the sale of tanning services to the Registraire des entreprises du Québec (REQ)
    A look back at an unprecedented mobilization campaign

    April and November 2011: The CCS set in motion a major mobilization campaign to show the government that the public wanted new legislation on artificial tanning. The organization travelled all over Quebec to meet elected leaders and the public. In all, the CCS gathered the signatures of 60,000 Quebecers who wanted the regulation of the tanning industry and sent MNAs letters of support from 65 groups representing more than 500 organizations.

    February to May 2012: The National Assembly’s Health and Social Services Committee received the CCS, the Association des dermatologistes du Québec, the Institut national de santé publique, and young female melanoma survivors on two occasions to study the issue of artificial tanning.

    June 5, 2012: The Quebec National Assembly unanimously passed An Act to prevent skin cancer caused by artificial tanning.

    The CCS’s work continues

    The CCS wants more. Find out the details by visiting our demands page.

  • The gains made by Quebec in the fight against tobacco
    The CCS’s demands

    The CCS is fighting for better legislative measures to protect Quebecers. The CCS is also demanding higher taxes on tobacco products while keeping up efforts to counter smuggled cigarettes. The taxation of tobacco products remains one of the most effective ways to curb smoking.

    The gains made by the CCS

    Since 2003, the CCS has succeeded in convincing the Quebec government to raise taxes on tobacco products while intensifying efforts to fight against cigarette smuggling.

    March 2013: The CCS welcomes the decision of the Quebec Finance Minister to raise the specific tax on tobacco products in the 2012-2013 budget. It was the first tax hike since 2003, apart from adjustments related to QST increases. The CCS hopes that the additional recurring revenue from the tax hike will be used towards healthcare services, particularly in the fight against cancer and smoking.

    The efforts taken to counter illegal tobacco have borne fruit and will continue to do so. The CCS believes that it is essential to continue the fight against cigarette smuggling to hold on to Quebec’s precious gains. The CCS is happy to note that cigarette smuggling has fallen from 30% in 2008 to around 15% today.

    Spring 2010: 22,276 Quebecers sign a letter asking the Health Minister to amend the Tobacco Act, which is already five years old.

    November 2009: Elected leaders adopt a law allowing Revenu Québec to intensify its fight against cigarette smuggling.

    June 2009: The CCS contributes to the tabling of bill no. 43: Tobacco-related Damages and Health Care Costs Recovery Act. This legislation enabled the Quebec government to claim $60 million from the industry to recover smoking-related healthcare costs from 1970 to 2030. The case is still being fought in the courts.

  • The gains made by Quebec to eliminate asbestos exposure
    The CCS’s demands

    From 2010, the CCS has asked the Quebec government to immediately stop any financial assistance to the asbestos industry, including a loan guarantee of $58 million to open a new mine in Asbestos.

    The gains made by the CCS

    The CCS’s political pressure helped convince three out of the four main political parties in the National Assembly of the sense in withdrawing the loan for asbestos mining. In October 2012, the new government announced that it would stop financing the asbestos industry and set up a fund for the reconversion of the local economy.

    June 2010: The CCS urges the government not to get involved financially in the relaunch of mining in Asbestos.
    June 2012: The Quebec government approves a loan of $58 million to the asbestos industry.
    October 2012: The new Quebec government confirms the withdrawal of the $58 million loan promised by the previous government to relaunch asbestos mining.
    May 2013: The Quebec government sets up a $50 million fund dedicated to the reconversion of the local economy.

    The CCS’s work continues

    The CCS believes that it is imperative to increase existing efforts for asbestos management and support Quebec asbestos workers by investing directly in the reconversion of the regional economy. Learn more about the CCS’s demands by clicking here.



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