January 22, 2016 – Health Ministers’ Meeting Update #3

VANCOUVER, January 22nd, 2016 – Canadian Cancer Survivor Network President and CEO Jackie Manthorne (right) and CCSN Health Policy Consultant Louise Binder (left) were in Vancouver for events taking place around Canada’s Health Ministers meeting.


Cancer Patients See Promise in Renewed Collaboration between Federal, Provincial and Territorial Health Ministers

The federal, provincial and territorial Health Ministers ended their two-day meeting January 20-21, 2016 in Vancouver with commitments to re-energize Canada’s stagnant health system. In order to do so, they agreed to set up a Working Group on enhancing the affordability, accessibility and appropriate use of prescription drugs. This comes at a time when revolutionary cancer treatments are making their way into the Canadian market. Exciting as this is, there are looming concerns about whether cancer patients will actually be able to access them because of their high cost. If public plans cannot afford them, cancer patients will be forced to mortgage their families’ futures or face death.

It is crucial that patient groups are part of the discussion about how to achieve equitable, universal access to these drugs no matter where they live or their financial resources. We agree with the federal Minister of Health, the Honorable Dr. Jane Philpott, that access should be available to those who need it.

The Health Ministers committed to a greater shift of resources to improve care in the community. Cancer patients are hopeful that this will include expanding take-home cancer drug coverage to all provinces and territories and people in Canada covered federally.

Minister Philpott also promised an increased emphasis on health promotion and prevention. This proactive approach to health systems is welcome as it will potentially free up more resources throughout the system.

Cancer patients welcome the renewed engagement of the federal government with its provincial and territorial health counterparts. Cooperation and consultation with all stakeholder groups including patient groups are necessary to ensure that these strategies will be implemented effectively and equitably.