Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
8  June, 2001

Cancer Patients Want Voice in Restructuring of Ontario s Cancer Agency
Government Implementation Committee must include patient voice 

TORONTO A group of people concerned about the provincial government's intention to restructure the way Cancer Care Ontario works met Wednesday in Toronto. The meeting, called by the Cancer Advocacy Coalition of Canada, a national watchdog for cancer care, included members of a number of health and cancer-related organizations with a common goal of ensuring and strengthening the voice of cancer patients in the decision-making process of Cancer Care Ontario and of promoting the development of a strong, patient-centred Cancer Care Ontario as a long-term, stably-funded provincial cancer agency.

On June 4, 2001, the Ontario Minister of Health announced the appointment of an 'implementation committee' to advise the Ministry on ways of restructuring cancer services in the Province. It will be headed by Dr. Alan Hudson, who oversaw the merger of several Toronto hospitals, including Princess Margaret, into the University Health Network.  Patient groups believe that a strong patient presence and community consultation through the committee, and transparency in the planning and implementation of provincial cancer services are essential. The CACC has informed head of CCO Ken Shumak, as well as the Minister of Health, that stakeholder representation is being sought.

 It was also agreed among this group that, with the increasing demand for cancer services, the provincial cancer agency must continue to be strengthened into the future with long-term committments for funding and organizational integrity; and not tied to partisan political changes.

The group called for other patients and groups to take immediate action, including:

  • Writing letters of support for the inclusion of community representation on the implementation committee to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, and sending copies to individual MPPs; 
  • Writing letters to local newspapers, as small-town and rural voices are particularly important, and the public must be informed about the process that is going on and what is at stake.
  • E-mailing or calling MPPs with questions that have been left unanswered or confused, expecting an answer to clarify the thinking about the restructuring of Cancer Care Ontario. Questions might include, for instance: What mechanism ensures the stable, long-term funding of cancer services when host hospitals are facing budget overruns and further cutbacks? What is the government's long-term plan to ensure equal and universal access to cancer services in your children's and grand-children's future? Be clear that this is not a de-facto action against the integration of cancer services between Regional Cancer Centres and host hospitals. But it is essential that integrated services (many of which already take place) arise out of a process of transparent and complete consultation that must include the ultimate stakeholders, the patients.
  • E-mailing questions and letters to the Cancer Advocacy Coalition of Canada, and search their web site (www.canceradvocacycoalition.com) to find more information on this issue.

The group is calling on patients and groups to act as quickly as possible. The Implementation Team will be formed in the next week.

 For more information contact:

Cancer Advocacy Coalition Canada
Toll Free 1-877-472-3436

cacc.ca
www.canceradvocacycoalition.com