Thank you for the chance to respond to these important issues. I’ve put my answers below following an SD: designation.
Green Party Candidate
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.
- If elected to government, how will you ensure that cancer survivors have timely access to rehabilitation services in Ontario that are timely and free?
SD: The Green Party is dedicated to health promotion and education to encourage all Ontarians to lead the healthiest lives possible. We will achieve this by strengthening support for community based health care and clinics and comprehensive support of primary health care providers. For things such as nutrition, occupational therapy and associated services we would expand access to multiservice and integrated primary care models such as family health teams, nurse-practitioner led clinics, and community care centres. We plan to bring mental health services under OHIP+ to better serve the mental health needs of all Ontarians, including those dealing with the psychological challenges of surviving cancer.
- 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?
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:
- A)All cancer patients in Ontario receive timely access to the medications they need when they need them?
SD: The Green Party is dedicated to improving access to medications for all Ontarians. We plan to push the federal government to establish a comprehensive Pharmacare program for all Canadians. Failing that, we would extend the Ontario Pharmacare program to cover all Ontarians not just the young and the elderly.
- B)The cost of oral cancer drugs is covered?
SD: The medicines needed to treat cancer would be covered under a comprehensive Pharmacare program that we would fight to establish.
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?
SD: Our commitment to strengthening primary health systems and community care centers is intended to provide the services people need, where and when they need them.
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?
SD: The Green Party is committed to ensure that health promotion and illness prevention are at the center of our health care system. We support implementing best practices based on the best available evidence. Where that indicates that early screening for things like prostate cancer prevents illness, we would support such measures.