Peter Ormond (Green Party) Response)

The candidate’s answers are listed after each question below.

Over 200,000 Canadians are diagnosed with cancer and 80,000 will die from it every year. During their lifetime, nearly 1 in 2 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer, and 1 in 4 will die from the disease. This includes 80,700 new cases and 29,600 deaths in Ontario. 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 Ontario 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. And according to a February 2018 Ipsos poll, healthcare is again the top issue during this campaign, with 40 per cent of respondents singling it out.

We invite you to respond to the following questions related to cancer care and healthcare in Ontario. Your responses will be circulated to cancer patients and survivors in Ontario and included on our website, http://survivornet.ca/act/ccsn-election-campaigns/, and posted on our social media.

Question 1: Rehabilitation for cancer survivors

About?500,000 Ontarians have survived cancer for ten years or longer. But surviving?cancer?can leave a host of?problems in?its wake. Physical, emotional, and financial hardships often persist for years after diagnosis and treatment.  The Auditor General’s 2017 Report states that: “Psychosocial cancer services are insufficient and inconsistent…As many as 40% of cancer patients require help from specialized professionals in addition to their medical treatment… we noted that in 2016/17, only 5.8% of patients received consultations with dietitians, and only 6.6% with social workers. More than half of the 14 regional cancer centres did not have a dedicated psychiatrist, occupational therapist, psychologist, or physiotherapist on site.”

While advances in cancer detection and treatments have reduced mortality, persistent and late effects of cancer and its treatments need to be identified and managed lifelong, with rehabilitation programs filling a gap in survivorship care and responding to the need of some survivors for more specialized physical and mental recovery care.

  1. If elected to government, how will you ensure that cancer survivors have timely access to rehabilitation services in Ontario that are timely and free?
  2. If elected as an MPP, would you be interested in serving on the Canadian Cancer Survivor Network’s All-party Cancer Caucus which meets twice a year at Queen’s Park and is currently studying gaps in rehabilitation services in Ontario and how to fill them?

Response:

GREEN PARTY – REHABILITATION AND HEALTH CARE

We all have first-hand experience with challenges in our current system, including long wait times in emergency rooms, for specialists and tests, and for appropriate long-term care. Many of us also face the challenge of being unable to find a family doctor or primary care provider.

The Green Party of Ontario believes in a publicly funded health care system accountable to the public, focused on people’s needs.

Our vision seeks to make sure that access to health care is available when you need it, that it supports keeping us in good health, and that public health policy development considers the social determinants of health.

In short, we believe in a people-centred approach to health.

We take a comprehensive view of health care by using smart investments to improve our current system, making health promotion and early intervention a top priority, improving the care available to Ontario’s changing demographics and ensuring sufficient resources are allocated to mental health.

The good news is that there are solutions for the way forward. The real issue is that these solutions require political commitment and thinking that extends beyond the four-year election cycle. This is the type of leadership the Green Party is committed to providing.

Support hospitals and health care facilities

  • Reduce overcrowding in hospitals with a system wide strategy to better use existing resources in home care, long-term care, nurse-led clinics, primary care and community care.
  • Develop a health care capacity plan to reopen hospital beds, operating rooms and services based on the population’s need for care.
  • Create an integrated funding structure for health care, based on quality outcomes that will ensure that the best care is provided by the most appropriate and cost effective provider.
  • Expand the number of and access to Nurse Practitioner led clinics in all parts of the province.
  • Increase the number of Nurse Practitioners in long-term care, mental health care and acute care facilities to improve patient care and outcomes.
  • Increase funding for Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) that are struggling to fulfill their downloaded mandate from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and provide dedicated funds that ensure enhanced collaboration with various partners, including District Social Services Administration Boards (DSSABs), to enhance the integration and delivery of public services.

Improve primary care and community health care

  • Commit to comprehensive primary health care as the foundation of the health system so that every person in Ontario has timely access to a primary health care provider and to ensure that health promotion, illness prevention and community well-being are at the centre of our health system.
  • Provide every Ontarian with electronic access to their personal health records.
  • Provide insurance claimants with clear, fair and thorough guidelines on how to proceed with their claims and ensure the accountability of insurers to their clients through an independent and objective regulatory process to ensure fair evaluation, support and compensation for victims of injuries.
  • Expand access to multiservice and integrated primary care models such as family health teams, nurse-led clinics, community care centres, and Indigenous health access centres.
  • Mandate training for primary health care practitioners on the health care needs of trans and gender-diverse people.
  • Support increased midwifery training and birthing centres and ensure accessibility of obstetricians in case of birth complications at birthing centres.
  • Expand the number of abortion clinics in Ontario, including in the north. All but one of Ontario’s clinics are situated in the GTA or Ottawa.
  • Improve the level of care in residential homes for people with severe disabilities, including increased funding and strict guidelines for proper care, and more vigilant auditing and inspections.
  • Support and fund programs for children of all ages with autism.
  • Create more meaningful day programs for all levels of special needs individuals after graduating from high school.

Support health care providers

  • Prioritize health care investment in frontline services rather than administration.
  • Ensure all care providers are working at their full scope of practice.
  • Provide equal pay for equal work across all health care sectors.
  • Provide all health care professionals with mental health and addictions training.
  • Designate the Ontario Personal Support Worker Association as the self-governing regulatory body of personal support workers in Ontario, to increase the accountability of those who provide care to vulnerable populations, and to ensure reasonable working conditions for personal support workers.

Increase options for rural health care

  • Empower Nurse Practitioners as primary health care providers especially in areas that lack primary care options.
  • Increase funding for telemedicine, including telepsychiatry, and full-scale Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) teams in rural areas.
  • Establish a full list of core services, including specialized health services, that ensure their availability within every Local Health Integration Network (LHIN).
  • Support special public transit services for rural residents to access health care.

Expand public health services

  • Embed the principles of the social determinants of health in our approach to health care: this includes income and social status; food security; social support networks; education; employment/working conditions; social environments; physical environments; personal health practices and coping skills; healthy child development; gender; and culture.
  • Develop a Lyme disease strategy for Ontario which coordinates with the Federal Framework on Lyme Disease Act, including an education campaign to raise awareness of Lyme disease, which is on the rise due to climate change.
  • Include treatment for Lyme Disease as part of OHIP so people with Lyme do not suffer financial hardship to obtain the health care they need.
  • Develop a provincial strategy to support people with chemical and environmental sensitivities to have access to and participate in public spaces, and find accessible and safe housing.
  • Implement a school food program to ensure students have access to healthy, local sustainable food.
  • Support community food hubs to empower people to grow and make their own food, to improve food literacy and to support community gardens and kitchens.

Reinstate the Eat Right program that helps individuals and families make healthy food choices.

 

Question 2: Timely access to medications

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, where the cost of oral drugs is not covered.

If elected to government, will you commit to ensuring that:

  1. A)All cancer patients in Ontario receive timely access to the medications they need when they need them?
  2. B)The cost of oral cancer drugs is covered?

Response:

Make dental and pharmacare universally accessible

  • Implement a universal dental care program. Dental health is directly linked to an individual’s overall health and an important part of a health promotion strategy.
  • Push for a federally funded Pharmacare program, and in the absence of a federal program, extend a provincially funded Pharmacare program to provide all Ontarians with access to medicine.

 

Question 3: Lymphedema

Lymphedema is a chronic health condition with many faces. Some people are born with it, while others develop it later in life, often after treatment for some cancers. An estimated one million Canadians suffer with this progressive condition that can have lifelong physical, emotional and financial implications for patients and their families. Approximately 387,000 Ontarians are living with lymphedema, with up to one in four breast cancer survivors developing lymphedema at some point in their lives.

If elected to government, will you commit to ensuring that cancer patients and survivors and other Ontarians with lymphedema receive timely and free treatment for this health condition?

Response:

Advance long-term care and home care

  • Monitor and improve the quality of care in long-term care homes and reduce wait times for elder care.
  • Ensure staff of long-term care facilities have proper resources to appropriately address the needs of residents that require complex care such as mental illness and addictions, acquired brain injury, and/or brain disorders including dementia.
  • Increase funding for home and community care to provide support for people to live at home longer.
  • Invest additional resources to improve the availability of assisted living and transitional living for seniors.
  • Provide support for family members who care for an infirm relative full time.
  • Develop and fund research into smart home technology to enable us to age in place and stay in our communities.

 

Question 4: PSA Screening in Ontario

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.

We thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Response:

  • Commit to comprehensive primary health care as the foundation of the health system so that every person in Ontario has timely access to a primary health care provider and to ensure that health promotion, illness prevention and community well-being are at the centre of our health system.