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Quebec local priorities
The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) – Quebec Division wants the government to acknowledge its responsibilities by adopting the following measures that will protect the health of Quebecers and enhance the quality of life of people touched by cancer.
- Ban on flavours (including menthol) for all tobacco products
- Moratorium on the marketing of tobacco products (freeze)
- Plain and standardized packaging for all tobacco products (including a ban on super-slim cigarettes)
- Regulation of electronic cigarettes
- Raising taxes to at least Ontario’s current levels (2nd province with the lowest tax rate after Quebec) while maintaining efforts to fight cigarette smuggling
The CCS is pressuring the government to ban flavoured tobacco products. Extravagant flavours such as mango, cookies, Pina Colada, and chocolate mint have thwarted the progressive decline of cigarette consumption among youths. Tobacco smoke has repulsive properties that need to be masked.
The CCS wants a moratorium on new tobacco products, which would help limit the existing market. The tobacco industry attracts fresh clients by changing and inventing new products. For instance, if a moratorium had been imposed ten years ago, thousands of youths would not have become addicted to tobacco today!
The CCS is fighting for plain packaging which will help counter the sale of tobacco products in attractive packaging. Plain packaging will make all packs look identical where size, shape, colour, model, and text size are concerned. Brands can only be distinguished by the name appearing on the pack.
The CCS wants the same regulations governing tobacco products to be applied to electronic cigarettes (for example, sale to minors). The harmlessness, quality, and effectiveness of electronic cigarettes have yet to be fully tested. The Directeur national de santé publique du Québec (National Public Health Director of Quebec) and Health Canada advise against the use of this product.
Quebec is the province with the lowest tobacco taxes. The CCS is urging the government to raise the tax rates to Ontario’s current level. Higher prices discourage non-smokers from starting and former smokers from taking it up again. The CCS is convinced that in parallel to higher taxes, it is essential to continue the fight against smuggled cigarettes to hold on to valuable gains made in the province.
Colorectal cancer screening
Acceleration of the organized screening program for all Quebecers
If it is detected early, the probability of beating colorectal cancer is 90%. While all the other provinces have already put in place an organized screening program, Quebec is currently only at the pilot projects stage. We must wait until at least 2018 before it is offered to the entire population aged between 50 and 74. This delay is too long. The CCS is keeping a close watch on the Health Ministry to track the progress in the implementation of the program.
- Standardization and improvement of palliative care programs
- Increase in the proportion and number of palliative care beds
- Increase in palliative home care
- Earlier access to palliative care for people living with cancer
The CCS wants the standardization and improvement of palliative care programs to improve access. The palliative care currently offered differs from one institution to another and from one region to another.
The CCS is pushing for an increase in the number of beds in palliative care and the healthcare staff needed in various settings. Currently, 50% of palliative care beds are found in hospitals.
As dying at home is the first choice of Quebecers, the CCS considers it essential for greater palliative care to be offered at home and made available throughout the province. This increase in palliative care must be accompanied by more support and respite for caregivers, and coverage of medications and equipment as in hospitals.
The CCS would like palliative care to be offered at the earliest possible during the treatment of people with cancer. Too often, they are transferred to palliative care late in the process. Palliative care benefits everybody when introduced early.
Support for family caregivers
- Changing the age criterion to qualify for the family caregiver tax credit
- Increase in the number of weeks of sick leave
- Providing necessary resources to ensure quality services at home for people living with cancer and their loved ones
Currently, a person who takes care of their partner unable to live independently can claim a family caregiver tax credit from Revenu Québec only if their partner is aged 70 and above. To better reflect the reality of caregivers, the CCS thinks that this credit should be made available from the age of 50. Cancer-related costs are significant and family caregivers must be supported financially.
The CCS believes that support for family caregivers must be flexible and help them maintain their employment ties. According to the Act respecting labour standards, an employee can only be absent from work for a maximum of 12 weeks when they need to be with a loved one who is ill. So, the number of weeks of absence allowed from work must be extended. Family caregivers play an essential role in the lives of people with cancer and should not be penalized for this economically.
The CCS wants the government to commit to a major increase in public funding for home care programs, material assistance, transportation, and respite.
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Printed: July 3, 2020
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