1. The Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP), which provides free mammography breast screening for women 50 to 74, has been the cornerstone of early diagnosis of breast cancer in Ontario. If elected to government, will you commit to continue funding free breast screening through OBSP?
Yes. The Ontario NDP is strongly committed to preventative medicine and believes that it is fundamentally important for the government to continue support for free breast screenings through the OBSP.
2. A key element of ensuring timely treatment for a cancer patient is ensuring they have access to the medications they need at the time they need them. Unfortunately, this is not always the case in Ontario. If elected to government, will you commit to ensuring that all cancer patients in Ontario receive timely access to new medications at the time they need it?
The Ontario NDP is committed to doing everything we can to reduce the incidence of cancer and support individuals and families touched by this disease. We believe Ontarians’ access to medically necessary medication should be consistent, transparent, and ensured in a timely manner.
We are committed to working with other provinces to push the federal government for a national pharmacare plan to help ensure that all Ontarians have access to the medication they need. The Ontario NDP will work to ensure accessibility, reliability, and compassion in our provincial drug plans. We are dedicated to ensuring that medically necessary medication is available to those in need.
3. The HPV vaccine can help prevent future cases of cervical, anal and oral cancers. It is most effective when given at a young age when immune systems are most receptive to the vaccine. However, the HPV vaccine is only available free through school-based clinics to girls. If elected to government, will you implement free school-based HPV vaccine clinics for boys?
The Ontario NDP believes that decision to expand the HPV vaccine should be evidence-based and made by medical professionals. Experts largely agree that expanding the HPV vaccine to young men and boys is essential to ensuring that we can prevent deadly cancers in both men and women. Furthermore, an overwhelming majority of Canadians support the extension of the vaccine to boys. As such, an Ontario NDP government would work with medical professionals to expand the free school-based HPV vaccine to boys.
4. Is your party in favour of implementing free PSA testing for prostate cancer in Ontario as a population-wide screening tool? If not, please explain how your party would ensure that Ontario men will have access to early diagnosis of prostate cancer.
The Ontario NDP acknowledges that the current framework for prostate cancer screening should be reviewed. We also believe in ensuring that public health education includes information about prostate cancer prevention. Though it is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canadian men, death rates have been falling four percent per year over the past decade. We want to continue and improve upon this progress.
The Ontario NDP supports measures to improve health coverage for all Ontarians. We will work with experts and stakeholders to ensure that coverage for routine prostate cancer screening is expanded. We recognize the importance of these tests as simple, cost-effective tools to increase prevention and improve outcomes for prostate cancer. We believe that there should be no barriers to accessing tests that can help save lives. We also believe that it is essential that our healthcare resources be used efficiently and that means an increasingly large role for preventative measures.