Open Letter to New Brunswick Health Minister Dorothy Shephard & Response

January 13, 2022

The Honourable Dorothy Shephard
Minister of Health
640 Manawagonish Road, Suite A
Saint John, NB E2M 3W5

Dear Minister Shephard:

The Canadian Cancer Survivor Network is concerned that the ongoing pandemic, especially Omicron, is causing yet another round of cancellations and postponements of cancer care. We therefore call on the government of New Brunswick to ensure that all cancer surgeries and treatments as well as curative procedures for cancer be prioritized whether they are considered elective or not.

The disheartening results of CCSN’s three Leger surveys conducted during the first three waves of COVID-19 have shown that the impact of COVID-19 on Canadian cancer patients has been severe and has led to a second public health crisis.

For example, over four in 10 patients, seven in 10 caregivers, and nearly six in 10 waiting to find out whether they have cancer or not had appointments cancelled or rescheduled during the pandemic. Three in ten caregivers, seven per cent of patients, and 18 per cent of those awaiting a diagnosis have had a surgery or other procedure cancelled. Of those who have had procedures cancelled, more than one in four patients, nearly one in three caregivers, and more than one in two of those waiting for a diagnosis were still waiting for their procedure to be rescheduled. On average, patients waited 55 days until they had a new date for their procedure, while caregivers waited an average of 36 days.

But cancer can’t wait! It cannot be postponed or cancelled! The pandemic cannot continue to delay diagnostic testing, treatments, and care that will help save cancer patients’ lives. As COVID-19 continues, so too must cancer care.

The Canadian Cancer Survivor Network calls on the government of New Brunswick not to wait until the pandemic is declared over to invest in strengthening cancer care.

Cancer can’t wait for those who are unsure of a cancer diagnosis and for those whose cancer may have progressed to a later stage during the pandemic.  Policy makers and hospital administrators across Canada must help to avoid what may already be an unavoidable increase in the number of deaths from cancer.


Yours sincerely,

Jackie Manthorne

President and CEO


CC:       Jean-Claude D’Amours, Liberal Health Critic,
The Honourable Blaine Higgs, Premier,
Jennifer Russell, Chief Public Health Officer,


Response from Minister Shephard


February 11, 2022

Ms. Jackie Manthorne
President and CEO
Canadian Cancer Survivor Network
j manthorne@survivornet. ea
Dear Ms. Manthorne:

This is in response to your email dated January 13, 2022, about cancer care during the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular while the Omicron variant is active.

I appreciate your concern about the potential for cancer care to be disrupted during the pandemic. We understand the importance of providing this care while our hospitals remain under extremely stressful conditions. Cancer care services delivered by New Brunswick’s two regional health authorities are considered a high priority and continue to be offered throughout the pandemic. Thank you for sharing your concerns with me.

K. Dorothy Shephard

cc: Hon. Blaine M. Higgs, Premier
Mr. Jean-Claude D’Amours, MLA, Edmundston – Madawaska Centre