Ontario has opportunity to catch up with Western Canada on universal pharmacare and eliminate financial hardship for cancer patients
Toronto, Ontario, February 9, 2018 – The Wynne Government has the opportunity to eliminate the financial hardship and related stress and delays patients experience when they require cancer medications taken at home with an investment of $42.5 million dollars – a less than 1 percent increase to current pharmaceutical spending in the province.
The CanCertainty Coalition, the united voice of 35 Canadian cancer organizations advocating for equal access to take-home cancer treatments in Ontario and the Atlantic Provinces, has presented a budget submission to Ontario’s Minister of Finance. The Coalition engaged a professional health economist to determine what the province would have to spend to close the gaps on coverage for cancer patients requiring take-home cancer treatments, who have limited or no private insurance.
“Ontarians deserve a cancer system that truly puts patients first, that allows people to focus on their health, and puts the burden of funding, access and administration into the background – which could be achieved with a relatively modest investment,” says Deb Maskens, kidney cancer patient and co-founder of CanCertainty. “But we need change now because cancer patients cannot wait any longer.”
The Western Provinces, the Northern Territories, and Quebec have all developed mechanisms to offer universal access to oral cancer treatments regardless of one’s age. In Nova Scotia, the government’s fall 2017 budget addressed the funding gap for take-home cancer treatments, which will help eliminate much of the financial hardship and related stress for cancer patients in the province.
Ontario is now an outlier in Canada with respect to the fair and equitable provision of cancer treatment. Most recently, the Ontario Auditor General’s Annual Report called for system change to remedy the numerous issues related to cancer patients who need take-home cancer treatments.
To date, two of the three major political parties in Ontario have made commitments to address the issues of inequities in the way in-hospital and at-home cancer medications are treated. The Ontario PCs included the funding for take-home cancer medications in their platform released in November 2017. In April 2017, the Ontario NDP made a commitment to improving access to take-home cancer treatments in their Vision for Ontario. In advance of the provincial election in June, it is our hope that all parties will make cancer treatment a priority and make this commitment to Ontarians.
“The government’s most recent efforts to advance universal pharmacare through the introduction of OHIP+ is encouraging as it strongly indicates a commitment to fairness in our health care system,” said Maskens. “However, cancer patients urgently need significant and meaningful reform to Ontario’s cancer system that will improve the way they are treated in this province.”
To learn more about the facts about take-home cancer treatments in Ontario and the challenges patients face, click here.
About the CanCertainty Coalition
The CanCertainty Coalition is the united voice of 35 Canadian patient groups, cancer health charities, and caregiver organizations from across the country, joining together with oncologists and cancer care professionals to significantly improve the affordability and accessibility of cancer treatment. For more information and to view our list of members, visit www.CanCertainty.com.