CanCertainty Campaign is Building Momentum for Fairness in Treatment Coverage

Thank you for your support!

The CanCertainty Campaign has grown to include 34 cancer patient organizations, a group of committed oncologists, four supporting patient groups, and countless Canadians from coast to coast to coast. Thank you to ALL who have helped to share the message that cancer treatment – whether it goes in the vein or in the mouth – should be funded equally.  

This campaign is truly unprecedented in Canada because it is not about any one type of cancer or any specific treatment. Cancer patient organizations from St. John’s to Vancouver have come together as a single voice because this issue affects patients with every type of cancer – breast, brain, colorectal, lymphoma, leukemia, myeloma, sarcoma, colorectal, kidney, gastrointestinal... indeed anyone touched by cancer is affected by this issue. In Ontario and the Atlantic provinces, cancer patients are left scrambling to fill out paperwork, wait for approvals, and then find the funds to cover the remaining cost of any cancer therapy that can be taken at home.  We simply cannot let this inequity continue.

Why We Came Together as the CanCertainty Coalition

Cancer patient organizations have each been addressing issues for patients who require oral cancer drugs. We’ve been tackling the issue one patient at a time, one province at a time, one treatment at a time. In November 2013, we put our heads together to explore the idea of working together.

We began by studying what had happened in Manitoba in 2011/2012 leading to the announcement of the Manitoba Home Cancer Drugs Program (that campaign was led by the Canadian Cancer Society in Manitoba). What would it take to make those changes in Ontario and Atlantic Canada?

Steps We’ve Taken To Date:

  1. We began by releasing a detailed White Paper, authored by a respected  health policy institute, The Cameron Institute, that laid out the rationale and budget impact for making this needed change.  The paper is called: The Institutionalized Discrimination of Cancer Patients - Not What Tommy Douglas Intended: A Business Case for the Universal Coverage of Oral Cancer Medicines in Ontario and Atlantic Canada.
  2. We began meeting with key influencers and decision makers with pre-release versions of the White Paper.
  3. On March 10th, we released a Public Awareness campaign that has reached Canadians through radio, television, and print media.
  4. We drew out the complicated maze of oral drug coverage in an easy-to-understand infographic.
  5. Thanks to your support, we then developed a compelling video to explain the situation faced by so many cancer patients and to urge people to share the word and support the campaign.

Campaign Progress to Date, beginning in Ontario

We’ve met with Government and with opposition parties in Ontario. We’ve been there with representatives from breast cancer, brain tumours, kidney cancer, neuro-endocrine tumours, GIST, the Cameron Institute, and oncologists from PACCT.  We’ve met with senior officials from:

  • Ministry of Health
  • Premier’s Office
  • Ministry of Finance.

We’ve met personally with:

  • Hon. Deb Mathews, Minister of Health and Long-term Care
  • New Democratic Party Health Critic, France Gelinas
  • Progressive Conservative Party Health Critic, Christine Elliott.

The Ministry has responded by re-aligning a planned May 8th meeting to discuss the issue of oral and other take-home cancer medications. This meeting is titled “Think Tank:  Enhancing the Delivery of Take-Home Cancer Therapies in Ontario.”  We’re suggesting very strongly that, as cancer patient representatives, we need to be there!

Next Steps

We need for all Canadians, and specifically those living in Ontario and the Atlantic Provinces, to continue to remind our elected representatives that solving this funding gap must remain a priority. We are not talking about adding new drugs to the provincial list, but simply to be FAIR and EQUITABLE with those drugs already listed. Treat IV and Oral cancer drugs as equivalents as is the case in BC, AB, SK, MB, and QC.

We know that providing coverage to oral cancer drugs (just as if they were IVs) will not bankrupt a province. However, NOT funding them will most certainly bankrupt individual Canadians – whether they are young, working, self-employed, without benefits, partial benefits or, in some provinces, just happen to be under 65.

Here’s How You Can Help

Your ideas, suggestions, and thoughts are most welcome! We look forward to sharing progress with you again – one province at a time!

Because, wherever you live in Canada, cancer is cancer, and treatment is treatment.  IV and oral treatments should be funded fairly and equally for all Canadians.

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