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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
My party will not form the next government as we have only 10 candidates. We could provide a balance of power and bring some sanity to the legislature. The first step in solving or improving a problem is to realistically define the problem and what are the causes. Unless you are the premier, no MLA has the authority to dictate any changes and most of the drug and health financing and policy issues originate in Ottawa. Personally, if the opportunity or authority comes to me, the first step is to consult with persons affected and define the specifics and take it from there. I can offer sympathy as my family has been affected by cancer and I am one of the citizens who does not have a doctor.
I must caution you that my experience in (local) government shows that reform, particularly on significant policy issues, takes years to implement. I will be the first to declare that being in the role of deciding public policy is immensely frustrating and can drive you up a wall. I have no illusions about the degree of impact I could make and I would be a liar to promise any outcome other than to say I would try to influence things the best I can.