Dear Ms Manthorne,
In 2017, 4,700 New Brunswickers were diagnosed with cancer and 2,100 died of it. Clearly, this life-threatening illness affects families, friends, the workplace and entire communities.
The Canadian Cancer Survivor Network (CCSN) works to connect patients, survivors and other stakeholder groups with decision makers and the wider community to engage in discussion and to act on evidence-based best practices to alleviate the medical, emotional, financial and social costs of cancer and encourage research on ways to overcome barriers to optimal cancer care and follow-up for survivors in Canada.
The government of New Brunswick has a critical role to play in making sure that everyone diagnosed with cancer has timely access to the medications they need; is not subjected to dangerously long wait times for diagnosis and treatment; and receives adequate financial support during diagnosis and treatment.
We invite you to respond to the following questions about cancer care and healthcare in New Brunswick. Your responses will be circulated to cancer patients and survivors in New Brunswick and included on our website at www.survivornet.ca. Links to your responses will also be posted on Facebook and Twitter.
Question 1: Access to primary healthcare
According to Statistics Canada, more than 11.3% of the province’s population is without a family doctor. This means that 107,787 New Brunswickers are without access to primary care. In addition, wait lists for general practitioners are increasing from one to two years, and this problem is projected to worsen with doctors retiring and the growth of the senior population.
If elected, what steps will your government take to increase the availability of family doctors and healthcare practitioners in New Brunswick?
Question 2: National pharmacare
Canada’s universal healthcare system does not include access to prescription medicines. The result is a provincial/territorial patchwork of public and private insurance plans that are costly, ineffective and do not guarantee access to prescribed drugs. The federal government has set up an Advisory Council on the Implementation of Pharmacare to look at how access to prescription drugs can be improved in our healthcare system. Patients throughout Canada are concerned that national pharmacare will lead to a list of covered drugs that only meets the lowest common denominator.
If elected, will your government support the implementation of a national pharmacare program that guarantees access to prescription medicines and a coverage plan that goes beyond a formulary that meets the lowest common denominator?
If not, please explain how your party will ensure that New Brunswickers will have timely access to prescription drugs.
Question 3: Patient engagement
Patients are key stakeholders in the healthcare system. Currently, there are no dedicated patient engagement committees that advise the provincial government on healthcare issues. Regional health authorities have patient advisory committees, but more is needed.
While the government consults with regional health authorities and physicians, patients must also have direct participation in these consultations by being included in the provincial level.
If elected, will your government take steps to create a Patient Engagement Committee that directly advises the government on healthcare issues?
Canadian Cancer Survivor Network