Thunder Bay Forum Report

P u b l i c F o r u m Wednesday 11 October 2000, 7:00-9:00 pm

1. Louisa Pedri introduced the organization and then the speakers.

What is the CACC?
CACC is a new, national not-for-profit organization. It was the brainchild of Pat Kelly, a breast cancer survivor, who felt that women with this type of cancer were not getting the available or standard treatment. She met with other individuals who had similar concerns. It became apparent that individuals affected by other types of cancers faced similar difficulties so work got under way to form an all-encompassing advocacy group for all cancer sites. After an organizational meeting in November 1999, it registered as Cancer Advocacy Coalition of Canada in January 2000. Today marks the first public meeting for the organization across Canada and at the back of the newly published magazine, Cancer Care In Canada, you will see a list of all the cities that will be hosting a meeting this evening across Canada.

Someone asked what the difference was between CACC and other existing cancer groups. A distinct difference is that CACC is registered as a not-for-profit organization, which means that your monetary support will not be tax deductible but all of the money the group raises can be used for lobbying and advocacy work for cancer care. The other cancer organizations can only use up to 10% of their funds for that purpose mainly because they are registered as charitable.

The CACC is open to all individuals and group members who want to improve the state of cancer care in this country. It is the only cancer group representing all cancer sites and devoted exclusively to advocacy unlike other

What is CACC hoping to achieve?
The Coalition has a mandate to make comprehensive and patient-centered cancer care a national priority. The Coalition will examine the pressing issues in cancer care and mobilize our membership of cancer care advocates across the country to encourage change at all levels, from national and provincial public policy to local service directory.

Dr. Kotalik will talk about the findings of the Report Card and the panel members will respond to those findings and reaction to the establishment of the CACC.

Jaro Kotalik:
Dr. Jaro Kotalik
is a Radiation Oncologist recently retired from the NWORCC; Director of the Centre for Health Care Ethics, Lakehead University and a Founding Member of the CACC.

What is the Cancer Report Card 2000?
Presentation with transparencies:

  • increasing number of new cancer patients
  • change in survival of cancer patients
  • variations in death rates from province to province and comparison with USA
  • delays and inequality in access to treatment
  • shortage of cancer care professionals
  • incomplete information on cancer burden and services in Canada.

Joe Comuzzi
MP for Thunder Bay Nippigon
Mr. Commuzi listed some recent initiates of the Federal government in the health area, such as agreement with provinces on funding enhancement, $500 million fund for science and technology, $45 million for the breast cancer foundation, doubling of money for research through Canadian Institute of Health research. He agreed that we seem to be making only marginal progress in cancer area. He confirmed importance of lobbying efforts in Ottawa. He concluded, The CACC provides the missing link and a lobbying effort that has great importance in Ottawa. Cancer programs can never be strong unless the population strongly and visibly supports them.

Mr. Dean William Douglas
Executive Director, Northwestern Ontario Prostate Cancer Research & Support Group.
Mr. Douglas described his group’s difficult task of giving more attention and higher profile to cancer of prostate. He concluded, The creation of this advocacy coalition will likely turn out to be the most important event in the history of cancer care for some decades.

Susan Hughes
Co-chair,Thunder Bay Breast Support Group
Ms Hughes listed number of examples where care for cancer patients and cancer screening can and must be improved in our own area. She noted that many people in her generation are totally unprepared for a cancer diagnosis and their level of concern need to be raised. She indicated her group support for the common front in cancer advocacy.

Ed Linkewich
Chair of Thunder Bay Superior North Ont PC Riding
Related how much his family was affected by cancer and asked for more attention to quality of life of cancer patients and provision of home support. He would like to see community groups under the umbrella of CACC to advocate for global and local changes. He stressed the need for more information about the access to care and treatment results, using agreed to language throughout Canada. He felt that we need to set definite goals in our struggle against cancer and assure the same standard of treatment is offered anywhere in Canada.

Louisa Pedri read the letter from Lyn McLeod, MPP for Thunder Bay Atikokan.

Michael Power
Director of Regional Planning and Administration, NWO RCC
Mr. Power offered additional cancer statistics suggested that the differences between provinces are not large and that Ontario’s situation is good. He stressed the need for cancer prevention, such as no smoking, diet, exercise and screening that all can decrease the incidence of cancer. He stressed that we have the best cancer care system in the world, yet many thing are not perfect and need to be improved. He concluded that the work of CACC can be very valuable and helpful to cancer care systems, especially to educate “ funders” of health care about population needs and frustrations. He offered to assist the work of CACC at the local level and would encourage the health care professionals to join CACC.

Questions from the audience
Many questions were asked during an hour-long discussion and were answered by the panel members. Common themes of questions were:
a) How to attract and keep professionals in NW Ontario. Ad hoc funding improvements are only of limited value; we need to train more cancer care professionals in Canada and also in NOW. There is a need for a Medical School in Thunder Bay.
b) Why are the statistics for British Columbia more favorable and what could be done to improve the Ontario’s position. Influence of the population mix, life style, treatment standards.
c) How to improve understanding of population as concern cancer issues?
d) Is it fair that patients from NW Ontario have to pay for travel to couth but patients from south are fully funded to have treatment in Thunder Bay?
e) Should cancer patient get funding for supplementary therapies that they take?
f) Should all patients have access to clinical trials and experimental therapies?

Total time : 2 Hours    
Audience: 43 people  

After the meeting:
Several cancer survivors related personal stories to panel members and express interest to get involved in CACC’s work.