Please find my answers to the questions in green below:
Question 1: Recovery from COVID-19 disruption of cancer care in Ontario
- a)Will your government increase cancer screening and treatment capacity by a minimum of 10 per cent over pre-pandemic levels starting in 2022 and continue for a period of three years? – Yes
- b)Will your government prioritize cancer surgeries to end the surgery backlog in 2022? – Yes
- c)Recognizing that the postponement of cancer services causes a healthcare crisis, how will your government ensure the continuation of cancer screening, surgeries, and treatment?
We are now facing a backlog for care, with thousands of people still waiting for health care, support and services. It’s even more challenging for rural, remote and Northern communities, where there were staffing shortages even before the pandemic.
With surgery backlogs and an understaffed sector, now is the time to expand a publicly funded, publicly delivered healthcare system that is equitable, accessible, and comprehensive – for all Ontarians.
We will increase year-over-year hospital base operating funding to a minimum of 5% and work with the federal government to provide surge funding to reduce the backlog in surgeries, imaging, and other services. We will also invest in new and expanded hospitals as needed to meet demand in high growth areas.
We plan to address the staffing shortage in a variety of ways. We will establish a nurse-led task force to make recommendations on matters related to the recruitment, retention and safety of nurses and immediately repeal Bill 124 and the problematic sections of Bill 106 to allow all healthcare workers to bargain collectively for fair wages.
Increasing nursing program enrollments, supporting certification upgrades for healthcare workers through expanded bridging programs at publicly funded post-secondary institutions and fast-tracking credential approvals for international healthcare workers are other examples of the approach we will take.
According to the latest data, 2022 will be the worst year for cancer deaths in Ontario due to widespread disruptions of cancer screening resulting in delayed diagnoses, postponed testing, surgeries, and treatment. This will result in an estimated minimum of 8,700 excess cancer deaths between 2020 to 2030, although this number will undoubtedly be much higher since continuing delays will increase the mortality by between six to eight per cent.
The Ontario government must prevent this from happening! Clearly, Cancer Can’t Wait!
Question 2: The expansion of lung cancer screening
If elected, will your government:
- a)Improve access to lung cancer screening by adding new sites in Peel, southwestern Ontario, eastern Ontario, and northern Ontario to eliminate barriers to care?
Yes, Ontario Greens will rebalance the healthcare funding formula to ensure better access in those areas and use incentives to bring physicians and allied health professionals to Northern and rural communities and those communities that have traditionally been underserved. We would also create opportunities for specialist and subspecialist trainees to undertake electives and core rotations in the North.
- b)Expand access to lung cancer screening for those who are at risk individuals who do not currently or have never smoked, specifically including those who are determined to have incidental pulmonary nodules? – Yes
- c)Create and fund an awareness program that will encourage people to get screened for lung cancer and help reduce the stigma associated with the disease? – Yes
Lung cancer has been the leading killer among all cancer types in our country, and for far too long, a diagnosis of lung cancer has been a death sentence. But it doesn’t have to be this way. With new technologies, innovative medicines, and earlier diagnosis, we can significantly improve the likelihood that lung cancer patients can become lung cancer survivors.
If elected to government, will your party allow women to self-refer for a mammogram, starting at age 40? – Yes
If you need the GPO’s position on any other issues please do not hesitate to reach out.