Thank you to everyone who joined us on June 11th for our breakfast event, We Are emPOWERED to Fight Cancer, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. We appreciate the support of Rob Oliphant, Member of Parliament (MP) for Don Valley West, who hosted the event.
Our President and CEO, Jackie Manthorne, welcomed attendees and noted that cancer impacts older Canadians disproportionately, with 9 in 10 Canadians with cancer being over 50 years of age. She noted the progress that the cancer survivor community has seen over recent years in terms of improvements in screening, care and treatments, including with new immunotherapies. Everyone applauded the many lung cancer survivors present at the event. However, more investments from the federal government to the provinces are needed to support provinces in delivering quality cancer care and treatments to the 1 in 2 Canadians who will be diagnosed with cancer in the future. Jackie also invited parliamentarians to take these important messages on the campaign trail as they head into the federal election this fall.
The Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP) Ottawa chapter President Rick Baker presented findings from CARP’s recent survey, which found that 91% of participants felt that their provincial health system needs new investments to be able to meet the needs of cancer patients. He noted that 90% of CARP member respondents agreed that cancer screening and cancer care should be their public health system’s top priority.
Robin Sully from Myeloma Canada noted that 290,000 Canadians alive today are expected to develop the disease but that many more myeloma patients are surviving – and for longer! She called on federal officials to accelerate and improve accessibility to effective cancer treatments and increase investments in health research and clinical networks for cancer, such as Myeloma Canada Research Network’s Canadian Multiple Myeloma Database, which captures real world evidence to inform treatments and clinical trials.
Medical oncologist and President of Lung Cancer Canada Dr. Paul Wheatley-Price told the audience about how some patients are benefiting from new treatments but more could benefit with improved lung cancer screening. He called on the federal government to invest in this under-served area.
The event was well-attended by many MPs, several of whom spoke about the impact of cancer, including double cancer survivor and Chair of the health committee Bill Casey (Cumberland-Colchester, NS) who spoke about the importance of reducing stress and improving health; Len Webber (Calgary Confederation, AB) who lost his wife to breast cancer at the age of 37; and Elizabeth May (Saanich – Gulf Islands, BC), who noted we need to also invest in preventing cancer and called for a national pharmacare program.
Over 100 guests attended the event, including parliamentarians such as Pam Damoff (Oakville North – Burlington, ON) the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and Conservative Shadow Minister of Health Marilyn Gladu; as well as government officials from Health Canada; representatives from the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer (CPAC), from the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH), and from dozens of patient groups; cancer survivors, patients, seniors advocates from CARP, researchers, health professionals and industry partners.
We appreciate the support of Merck Canada in making this event a great success!