To view the responses we have received to these questions, click here.
Over 234,000 Canadians are diagnosed with cancer every year, with over 10,000 new diagnoses in Manitoba alone. Approximately 2,600 Manitobans die as a result of cancer yearly. Clearly, this life-threatening illness affects families, friends, co-workers, and entire communities.
The Canadian Cancer Survivor Network (CCSN) is a national organization of patients, families, survivors, friends, and community partners. Our mission is to work together by taking action to promote the very best standard of care, support, follow up, and quality of life for cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers. With a steadfast commitment to advocating for the interests and welfare of those affected by cancer, CCSN recognizes the immense challenges faced by these individuals throughout their journey.
We invite you, as a candidate in the upcoming Manitoba Provincial Election, to answer the following questions about cancer care and healthcare in the province. Your responses will be circulated to cancer patients and survivors in Manitoba, included on our website, www.survivornet.ca, and posted on our social media, which will promote informed voting decisions.
Post-Pandemic Support for Cancer Patients
The COVID-19 pandemic led to unprecedented disruptions in healthcare systems, affecting cancer patients’ access to treatments, screenings, and support services. The Canadian Cancer Survivor Network’s Cancer Can’t Wait campaign highlighted that over half of Canadian cancer patients had their appointments, tests, and treatments postponed or canceled. Delays not only impacted physical health but also took a toll on mental and emotional well-being, with 72% of respondents reporting major impacts on their mental health.
1. If elected, how do you plan to provide post-pandemic support to address the challenges faced by cancer patients, ensuring they receive timely treatments, screenings, and the necessary supportive services?
Ensuring Firefighter Health
At work, firefighters are exposed to a variety of recognized and potential carcinogens. They could come into contact with asbestos from older building materials, metals, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons when putting out flames. Additionally, firefighters may work night shifts, which is a potential cause of cancer (IARC Group 2A), and they may be exposed to the diesel exhaust from fire vehicles.
Bill C-224, the National Framework on Cancers Linked to Firefighting Act, is a significant legislation that addresses the occupational hazards faced by firefighters in Canada. The bill aims to establish comprehensive measures for preventing and treating cancers linked to firefighting, rectifying the current disparities in recognition and compensation of these cancers across different provinces. It underscores the need to raise awareness, allocate resources for prevention and treatment, and improve safety protocols to reduce exposure to harmful substances.
In light of the mass wildfires burning through Canada, the urgent need to safeguard firefighter health has never been more urgent. The Canadian Cancer Survivor Network’s brief on Bill C-224 found that Manitoba currently covers 19 types of presumptive cancer in firefighters, but we now understand that firefighters are at an increased risk for almost all cancer types.
2. If elected, how do you plan to ensure the effective implementation and continuous improvement of the National Framework on Cancers Linked to Firefighting Act, including measures to strengthen occupational health and safety, promote research, increase the number of cancers covered, and ensure equitable support for firefighters across Canada?
Breast Cancer Screening Age
In Manitoba, access to routine breast screening mammography is not offered to women in their 40s. The Canadian breast screening guidelines state that women in this age group should be allowed to decide whether to have a mammogram. Despite this guidance, many women are unable to obtain the necessary referral for this procedure. It is important to note that 17 per cent of breast cancers and 27 per cent of years of life lost occur in women in their 40s. Cancer in this age group is more aggressive, which leads to increased mortality rates. Women in their 40s are not acceptable losses. Many have young children, are caring for aging parents, and are contributing to the economy.
Early detection is critical to avoiding the most aggressive medical care and saving lives. Women in their 40s who get mammograms have a 44 per cent lower mortality rate from breast cancer than those who are not screened. Many other jurisdictions in Canada provide women with the option to self-refer, either at age 40 or after their first mammogram in their 40s.
3. If elected, how will you actively ensure that women are allowed to self-refer for a mammogram, starting at age 40?
Prevention and Public Health
Preventive measures have a profound impact on reducing the burden of cancer. Public health initiatives, including tobacco control, promoting healthy lifestyles, and raising awareness about risk factors and early detection, contribute to preventing a significant portion of cancers from developing in the first place.
4. Given the potential to prevent numerous cancers through public health measures, what strategies will you implement to promote cancer prevention in Manitoba? If elected, how will you prioritize initiatives that focus on tobacco control, healthy living promotion, and awareness campaigns?
We thank you for your attention to these important matters, and are looking forward to your responses,
President and CEO