Newfoundland and Labrador 2021 Election Campaign

The Canadian Cancer Survivor Network is once again asking questions of the parties and candidates during the 2021 Newfoundland and Labrador election campaign.

Their responses will be posted in this section as we receive them.

We hope that this information will help you when you direct your concerns to your provincial representatives.

To become involved in CCSN’s political advocacy campaigns, please contact


The Canadian Cancer Survivor Network (CCSN) works to connect patients, survivors and other stakeholder groups with decision makers and the wider community. Our goal is to engage in meaningful discussions and to act on evidence-based best practices to alleviate the medical, emotional, financial and social costs of cancer.

In every provincial and federal election, CCSN poses a priority question to candidates from all parties. With input from local groups and individuals concerned with cancer, the question is posed to all candidates from all parties and to the parties’ leadership.

A recent CCSN-commissioned Leger survey of 1,243 Canadians revealed that the response to the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a crisis in essential cancer care across the country. Cancer patients, their caregivers and those awaiting confirmation of a cancer diagnosis faced, and still face, postponed and cancelled appointments, tests and treatment, causing heightened fear and anxiety.

Here’s a responses we received in our Leger survey from a Stage 4 breast cancer patient living in Newfoundland and Labrador:

“Where I am stage 4, It is concerning that I may have another scan postponed because of the pandemic. It makes me worry that something might be growing that we aren’t going to catch in time due to lack of scanning. So it’s causing a lot of anxiety”

As the CBC recently reported, health care is expected to take centre stage this election, and the government of Newfoundland and Labrador has a critical role to play ensuring that essential cancer care is not disrupted by COVID-19 because cancer can’t wait!

Cancer can’t be cancelled or postponed. The delay and cancellation of cancer care due to COVID-19 has triggered another public health crisis. Cancer care and diagnosis must continue during any public health crisis affecting Canadians to save lives.

Our question is, if elected, what action will your government take to ensure that all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are guaranteed safe and timely access to essential cancer care?

Your response will be circulated to cancer patients, caregivers and survivors in Newfoundland and Labrador and included on our website at Links to your responses will also be posted on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for taking the time to reach out to the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador with your question and concerns about the treatment of cancer patients. We wholeheartedly agree that safe and timely care is crucial in the treatment of patients with cancer.

Newfoundland and Labrador was one of the few jurisdictions in Canada that did not have to interrupt cancer treatment throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. While some jurisdictions had to cease essential cancer care services, our province was able to maintain essential treatment. 

While we did have a few delays in screening for three months during the height of the first wave, all screening services were resumed and are now completely back up and running. The Regional Health Authorities did an exemplary job in adding extra clinics to ensure we were caught up to pre-pandemic levels. This has continued through the fall and into early winter. 

We are very fortunate indeed that the residents of the province followed the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health through the Christmas season and therefore we did not see the rapid rise in case numbers that other jurisdictions have seen. Cancer care services are continuing and people are receiving this vital care.

Thank you for the work that you do for people with cancer across Canada.

Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador

First, allow me to offer my full support and energy to all cancer survivors in Newfoundland and Labrador. The message of hope and positivity that you bring to us all is essential. No one in Newfoundland and Labrador hasn’t been touched by the ravages of cancer. Cancer survivors, and your message of hope and action, bring all of us to a better place.

I’m very proud to have served as the Member for Corner Brook and to offer my energy to the Furey government and Cabinet.

Here at home in Corner Brook, I’m very proud of the fact that cancer radiation therapy will be added to the growing list of clinical and medical services at our new Western Memorial Hospital! This is truly a game changer and will not only drastically reduce wait times but will significantly cut back on travel requirements and costs for cancer patients from Corner Brook and western Newfoundland.

Also, I am very pleased to note that we are expanding our medical diagnostic imaging capacity here which is so critical to cancer therapy.

Currently, we operate two CT scanners and one MRI camera at Western Memorial. Our new hospital will be equipped with three CT scanners including one CT Simulator which, as you know, is a specialized piece of equipment  which is designed for enhanced targeting of cancer radiation treatments. We will also expand to two MRI machines and we will boost the province’s second ever PET scanner!

The objective of all of this is to reduce wait times, offer timely cancer detection and treatment in western Newfoundland and prevent or significantly reduce patient travel expenses and the frustration of delayed procedures.

People from across the province may also want to note that there are specific benefits of Corner Brook getting these services that are shared with all other parts of the province. Corner Brook is a significant catchment area for western, northern and central Newfoundland as well as southern Labrador. Services offered in Corner Brook mean less utilization of services in St John’s thereby the further opening up imaging and treatment appointments for detection and treatment of other cancer patients throughout the province. This has value to all cancer patients.

Further, for those cancer patients still requiring travel, our Liberal platform announces an expanded medical transportation assistance program with even further benefits to medical travellers.

Our Liberal government was the only government to make good on the expectation of a new hospital in Corner Brook; one equipped with cancer radiation therapy and a PET scanner. Our $870 million investment in our healthcare campus has been very well received and recognized. While others have spoken of their intentions, our government has been the only one to act!

People appreciate this just as we all appreciate the struggles and hardships of cancer patients. detection and treatment will be made easier to ease that burden.

Stay safe everyone! Stay positive. Stay kind!

Yours faithfully,

Gerry Byrne

Liberal Party candidate for Corner Brook

In answer to your question, as an elected Member of our House of Assembly in NL, I would seek to arrange a forum where cancer advocates/patients and the health authorities would discuss the options to improve access to cancer care during the pandemic. By sharing information and perspectives, I am optimistic that better care can be achieved for concerned patients and their anxiety reduced as a result.

Wishing you all the best, and stay safe.

John Abbott
Liberal Candidate for St. John’s East-Quidi Vidi District

Dear Ms. Manthorne,

Thank you for your correspondence of January 27, 2021. Thank you for outlining how the COVID-19 pandemic and the public health crisis has impacted individuals who have cancer.

I very much agree with your statement that “cancer can’t wait.” Our health care system must support patients with cancer and those who are being screened for cancer while protecting them against the risk of COVID-19. We know all too well that early diagnosis and early treatment is critical in improving outcomes for individuals with cancer. We cannot let COVID-19 get in the way of timely treatment.

Soon after the COVID-19 pandemic hit our province, I called for the establishment of an all-party committee to serve as a forum where information could be shared about the province’s response, and the concerns of citizens could be brought to the table. Some of the concerns were addressed around that table, but others were not addressed properly.

Our Caucus raised the issue of treatment delays during Question Period in the House of Assembly. Here are some examples of questions we raised:

- DAVID BRAZIL: Minister, many people are suffering because they cannot get the health care they need or they cannot be with a family member when they are in hospital. There are hundreds of heartbreaking stories. The people of the province deserve to know when health care will return to normal. Can the minister table in this House the regional health authority’s plan to address the backlog for specialist appointments, procedures and surgeries due to the cancellation of non-urgent elective health services? (June 10, 2020)

- DAVID BRAZIL: Minister, your department was able to establish guidelines to allow my family pet to have her fur cut weeks ago, but people are still waiting to find out when their appointments will be rescheduled. Once again, will the minister commit to tabling an intensive, detailed plan developed by the regional health authorities to address the backlogs? A simple yes or not – will that be tabled in this House? (June 10, 2020)

- MR. BRAZIL: I can guarantee you the people of Newfoundland and Labrador need some reassurance of when they’re going to get back to some normality around health care, particularly what’s been backlogged that does have a life-or-death impact on families in this province. (June 10, 2020)

- TONY WAKEHAM: We have been told here that the actual return to normality for people on those wait-lists that have been cancelled could take up to 18 months. I ask the minister: Is that true, that it could be up to 18 months before we actually take care of the backlog? If so, what will you do to speed that up? (June 18, 2020)

- CRAIG PARDY: On May 7, I communicated to Health and Community Services about a constituent who was diagnosed with breast cancer a year ago. She had surgery and her one-year post mammogram was scheduled for April past but was postponed due to COVID. In addition, a consult with a specialist regarding nodules found on her thyroid was also postponed. Can the minister provide more exact information as to when these backlog assessments will be addressed? (June 18, 2020)

- JEFF DWYER: Minister, I know of a middle-aged, single dad that has been waiting for the removal of a lump since February. There are concerns that the lump could be cancerous. What assurances can you give that person and his young family as to when he can expect this surgery in a timely manner? (June 18, 2020)

- JIM LESTER: Minister, prior to COVID, we had a health care system in crisis; now it’s in tatters. Many residents in my district have contacted me to raise concerns about wait times for needed prescriptions for rheumatoid arthritis, blood tests and many other progressive medical concerns. These are health requirements that cannot be delayed. What confidence can you give the residents that these time-sensitive services will be fast tracked?

COVID-19 infection is not the only illness putting people’s lives at risk. We cannot allow people whose lives are at risk from cancer or other illnesses to have their care delayed because of the focus on addressing another illness.

A PC Government will minimize disruptions to non-Covid health care so patients can access the care they require in a timely manner. This includes disruptions to cancer care, testing, screening, and preventative procedures.

We believe a proper and timely rollout of the vaccine will make a big difference in rebalancing the system to clear up the backlogs. A PC Government will ensure people get vaccinations in as timely a manner as possible, recognizing that we can alleviate the most suffering by prioritizing delivery to those who are most vulnerable. A PC Government will not lose sight of the importance of remaining vigilant, even as people are being vaccinated, so the infection does not take hold again in our communities. But we must also be vigilant in ensuring people who need cancer care are getting it in a timely manner.

Part of the problem early in the pandemic was a concern that personal protective equipment (PPE) was in short supply. The shocking revelation was that the Liberals had destroyed the province’s stockpile of PPE shortly before the pandemic struck, leaving the province unprepared. That was reckless, as we know there were flu-like virus infections arising from time to time, and ensuring a stockpile of PPE was a reasonable preventative measure. Thanks to Newfoundland and Labrador’s geography and the caring nature of our people, we avoided the worst outcomes of other jurisdictions, but not because the government was prepared. A PC Government will work to increase access to personal protective equipment. We will ensure there is an adequate warehouse stockpile of PPE available and ready to use for future outbreaks. We believe that an adequate supply of PPE can help us to continue essential services while keeping patients and care providers safe.

I believe that the best way to keep Newfoundlanders and Labradorians safe and to minimize any disruptions is to reduce COVID-19 as much as possible in our province. That is why A PC Government will do point-of-entry testing at our border access points. We have been calling for point-of-entry testing from the start, based on science and best practices. We will be diligent to track down cases of COVID-19 as they come into our province, isolate them, and prevent the spread. The purpose of point-of-entry testing is not to give people a false sense of security, but to catch more cases earlier, before the infection spreads. It is a reasonable precaution. The better protected we are, the more easily our health care system can get back on track.

Thank you once again for giving me the opportunity to outline how I would ensure cancer care continues in our time of pandemic.”


Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador

My thoughts are with all of the individuals and their families that are going through difficult times. You are no stranger to risk. There are risks all around us and together you are finding ways to reduce those risks to move forward in life. The current pandemic response has been swift to mitigate the potential spread of the virus, however the response has also introduced a wide array of new risks to our communities.

My goal in life is to help others and although we all have different needs, there are options to ensure actions reduce harm overall. Cancer does not wait, and it does do harm. We need to ensure people have access to assistance, tests, and activities that enhance their health and well-being.  I have been a professional adventure guide for over 13 years, supporting people through the unknown and often through high-risk situations. I manage risk through a process of identifying the risks around us and in each situation, assessing the severity of those risks on a daily basis, and mitigating the possibility of those risks causing harm by taking multiple actions to reduce the potential and specific steps to react if harm is caused. I also go through a process of accepting risk. Risk acceptance is not reckless, it is a calculated and confident decision that is often necessary to move forward. You again are no stranger to accepting risk. You deal with risk daily and find ways to reduce harm to yourself and your families.

Although I am not a traditional politician, I am a trained leader that can guide people through risky situations. I hope to have the opportunity to assist the provincial government to manage risk for our communities. The provincial government should provide support and guidance to help us navigate through risks. Their actions should not cause direct harm. People need to be empowered to assess risks and make confident decisions that enhance their health and lives.

I would like to thank those that are working hard to help. The health care providers, the families and most importantly the individuals who are experiencing cancer firsthand as they not only overcome challenges every day, but often inspire others to actively live while managing risk. All Newfoundlanders and Labradorians deserve safe and timely access to essential cancer care.


Jamie Harnum
PC Candidate for the District of Gander, Appleton, Glenwood, Benton, Gambo