CCSN Supports MPP Kusendova-Bastha Motion on Lung Cancer Screening

The Canadian Cancer Survivor Network was pleased to virtually attend MPP Kusendova-Bastha’s presentation of her motion in the Ontario Legislature for debate on June 6, 2024 regarding the Ontario Lung Cancer Screening Program.

Private Members’ Notice of Motion No. 77 states: “That, in the opinion of this House, the Government of Ontario should assess the Ontario Lung Cancer Screening Program to determine whether expansion is warranted, and more sites are necessary to better serve Ontario patients and to look at broadening the eligibility criteria for access to the lung screening program.”

MPP Kusendova-Bashta opened the debate with remarks regarding her experience as a nurse working in health care and how great the impact of lung cancer is on the healthcare system.  She stated that while the current screening age is from 55 to 74, the actual age of diagnosis is between 44 and 50. She also mentioned that only smokers are eligible for the screening program, while 15 per cent of individuals diagnosed with lung cancer have never smoked.

MPP Kusendova-Bashta highlighted some key factors in reducing one’s risk of developing cancer, and also encouraged her fellow MPPs to take care of their health and to attend their screenings, appointments, and check-ups during the summer break.

MPP France Gélinas, health critic for the NDP, was the first to respond: “This motion is very timid. You have the power to do these things right here, right now.” She agreed that they would support the motion, and added ”This is a step in the right direction. This is what needs to be done.”

Liberal party health critic MPP Adil Shamji stated, “This is an easy one to support. However, this motion could go much further.” He agreed that there is a need for expansion to the Ontario Lung Screening Program, but was concerned that not many people were aware of the program. “If you don’t know about it and you cannot self-refer, how are you supposed to get screened? And this motion should be a bill.”

MPP Rudy Cuzzetto spoke in support of MPP Kusendova-Bashta’ statements, adding “It is also critical that people outside the age requirement have access to care.”

MPP Mike Schreiner, leader of the Green party, opened his remarks by supporting the motion. “It’s a motion that I will be voting for and appreciate the member for bringing it forward.” He addressed some of the missing pieces needed to ensure a more expansive screening program and added that “expanding the scope of the screening is critically important as well.”

MPP Zee Hamid spoke in support of the motion due to the stark difference in survival rate for individuals depending on when they are diagnosed with lung cancer. When diagnosed at stage one individuals can have a 60 per cent survival rate, whereas if they are diagnosed stage four, their chances of survival are estimated at five per cent. “This underscores the importance of diagnosing lung cancer as soon as possible,” MPP Hamid stated.

After debate, the motion was carried unanimously.