Bobby Deepak (NDP Party) Response

Dear Candidate:

Over 202,000 Canadians are diagnosed with cancer every year, including an estimated 25,600 new cases diagnosed in British Columbia, with approximately 10,100 dying of cancer each year. Clearly, this life-threatening illness affects entire communities, especially families, friends and co-workers.

The Canadian Cancer Survivor Network (CCSN) is a national network of patients, families, survivors, friends, families, community partners and sponsors. Its mission is to work together by taking action to promote the very best standard of care, support, follow up and quality of life for patients and survivors. It aims to educate the public and policy makers about cancer survivorship and encourage research on ways to alleviate barriers to optimal cancer care in Canada.

The government of British Columbia has an important role to play in making sure that everyone diagnosed with cancer has timely access to cancer care and essential medical services as well as access to emergency rooms and the treatment and medications they need. Nearly 300,000 people in BC are without a family doctor (http://www.richmond-news.com/news/doctor-crisis-closes-richmond-clinic-1.14989846).

We invite you to respond to the following questions related to cancer care and healthcare in British Columbia. Your responses will be circulated to cancer patients and survivors in British Columbia and posted on our website, www.survivornet.ca and on our social media.

Question 1:

In a poll conducted by Innovative Research Group in August of 2016, healthcare is the number three issue (behind housing and the economy, and just in front of education) on the minds of BC voters.

If elected:

A) How will your government improve the delivery of cancer care and other healthcare services in BC?

B) Will your government restructure healthcare delivery, and if so, how?

C) How will your government ensure that cancer patients receive the services they need, including home care, financial assistance during recovery and for long-term side effects of cancer and/or treatment?

D) What will your government do to better the wait time for people who require an operation?

Question 2:

A key element of providing timely treatment for cancer patients is ensuring that they have access to the medications they need at the time they need them. Unfortunately, this is not always the case in British Columbia.

As of January 31, 2015 British Columbia drug plans covered 19.6% of the 464 new drugs approved by Health Canada from 2004-2013 and the average number days to list the new drug covered under each public drug plan was 787 (Coverage for new medicines in Canada’s public drug plans, 2015, Mark Rovere and Dr. Brett J. Skinner).

A) If elected, will your government commit to increasing the number of new cancer and other drugs approved for public reimbursement so that all British Columbians have timely access to the drugs they need, and if so, how will this be accomplished?

B) If elected to government will you undertake negotiations leading to regional collaboration to ensure timely patient access to cancer drugs?

Question 3:

A study published from the University of British Columbia says that one in 12 Canadians (aged 55 and older) were the second most likely among comparable countries to stop filling their prescriptions in 2014 because of cost.

A) If elected to government, what will your party do to make prescription medications more affordable?

B) Why is there such a difference between BC and other provinces?

We thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Response: 

Dear Ms. Oliver,
Thank you for your letter. If John Horgan and the BC NDP is elected to government, we welcome the opportunity to meet and work with the CCSN on enhancing the continuum of care for cancer survivors in the province.
Please accept the detailed survey response below on behalf of all BC New Democrat candidates in the 2017 provincial election.
For more information on our platform, please visit www.bcndp.ca/platform.
In relation to your questions regarding health care delivery:

Central to our health care transformation agenda is ensuring access to timely, quality comprehensive primary care. We plan to establish Urgent Family Care Centres in urban and rural areas that will deliver patient care through multi disciplinary teams comprised of doctors, nurses, nurse practioners, dieticians, occupational and physical therapists, mental health and addictions treatment professionals, and other health professionals. This team based care model will provide patients with chronic conditions like cancer with specialized and continuous care and support through the different stages of recovery.

Our other strategic investments in health care include expanding the hours and scope of home care so patients can live and recover at home. Furthermore, team members from Urgent Family Care Centres will also provide home visits to their patients when appropriate.

We will continue working with stakeholders to improve access to specialized programs for cancer detection, treatment and recovery. For example, in recent years our health critic Judy Darcy supported survivors in their advocacy for a childhood cancer survivor clinic. The New Democrats also championed for years a BC wide colorectal cancer screening program – an idea that the Liberals adopted without heeding the advice to properly resource it to prevent excess wait times. If elected we will ensure the program has sufficient capacity to ensure patients do not wait for months for testing in their own communities.

We will expand and replicate initiatives, best practices that have a track record of reducing surgical wait times. We will also deliver the best outcomes and most timely care for patients through province-wide coordination, management of wait lists.

In relation to your questions regarding access to drug treatments:

The BC NDP champions independent evidence based pharmaceutical policy and formulary decisions that ensure the treatments that work the best, not the ones that are most promoted and higher in price, are prescribed and covered under the public drug plan. This approach of emphasizing treatment efficacy enables greater patient coverage as it protects the health care system from undue costs.

We also champion leveraging government’s purchasing position to secure lower drug prices for the benefit of patients and the public health care system. Savings on prices frees up resources for broader treatment coverage. On this note, we plan to collaborate with other provinces and the federal government on drug price negotiations and bulk purchasing medication. We also intend to work with the federal government towards a national pharmacare program that can significantly improve coverage and lower costs.

Thank you.