Friday, January 06, 2006

The Breast Views Blog: Making Breast Cancer Political

We, the frozen, are in the midst of a national election campaign. The Canadian Breast Cancer Network would like to encourage all voters in Canada to help put Breast Cancer on the political radar by poising these five questions. Even if you're not Canadian, tuck this idea in your hat for your own future elections.

Question 1: Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits

In 2004, The Canadian Breast Cancer Network conducted a survey on the financial costs of having breast cancer. When asked whether 15 weeks of Employment Insurance benefits were enough to get them through treatment, 75% of the 500 respondents said they were not long enough. Note that 76% of respondents reported being off work for over 15 weeks.

If elected, will your government:
A) Immediately direct the Canada Employment Insurance Commission to ensure that the section of the EI Monitoring and Assessment Report on EI special benefit claims duration is broken down by illness?
B) Use the resulting information on benefit claims duration by illness to lengthen sickness benefits for Canadians undergoing treatment for breast and other cancers as well as other illness that require long periods of treatment so that no one who is ill is penalized by the current limit of 15 weeks of sickness benefits?
C) Cancel the two-week waiting period for EI Sickness Benefits so that sick Canadians are not penalized?
D) When will your government institute these changes?

Question 2: Federal Funding for the Breast Cancer Networks in Canada

The Canadian Breast Cancer Network and the provincial and territorial breast cancer networks have been funded through the Community Capacity Building (CCB) program of the Canadian Breast Cancer Initiative (CBCI) since 1998-1999. The objectives of the Community Capacity Building program are to enable networks to act/intervene at the level of communities; to create improved conditions which allow people to access breast cancer information and support; and to focus on network development and community dynamics rather than individual behavior/outcomes.

However, the networks have been historically underfunded, with the entire annual amount of funding for the entire country at $623,000. This amount has not been increased or adjusted for inflation since the program’s creation.

In 2004, the provincial and territorial networks and the Canadian Breast Cancer Network were offered four-year funding, but with a 25% cut in funding each year of the last three years of the funding period. By 2008, the entire annual amount of funding for capacity building and increasing access to information and support services to the 21,000 women newly-diagnosed with breast cancer each year and the tens of thousands of women living with a breast cancer diagnosis in Canada will be just $263,829, despite the expectation of a huge jump in cancer rates as our population increases and ages.

If elected, will your government:
A) Immediately cancel the 25% cuts in funding?
B) In consultation with the networks, immediately develop a mechanism to enable meaningful participation of the Canadian Breast Cancer Network and the provincial/territorial breast cancer networks in determining adequate funding levels for their grassroots capacity building activities?
C) Immediately upwardly adjust funding to the provincial/territorial breast cancer networks and the Canadian Breast Cancer Network?
D) Ensure that there is permanent, dedicated funding to the Canadian Breast Cancer Initiative (CBCI)?
E) Ensure that there is permanent dedicated funding to the Community Capacity Building program under which the Canadian Breast Cancer Network and the provincial/territorial breast cancer networks are funded to provide capacity building at a grassroots level?

Question 3: Wait Times

Wait times for the diagnosis and treatment of breast and other cancers continue to lengthen in the following areas:
- The wait time from an abnormal screen to the diagnosis of breast cancer
- The wait time from the diagnosis of breast cancer to surgery and treatment
- The wait time for approval of new drugs, which involves at least two issues: 1) the financial cost of drugs to patients and 2) the long drug approval process that may prevent patients in treatment from receiving the most appropriate drug treatment

If elected, how will your government:
A) Ensure that wait times are decreased across the country to meet national best practice guidelines for acceptable wait times from an abnormal screen to the diagnosis of breast cancer and from the diagnosis of breast cancer to surgery and treatment?
B) Ensure faster approval of new drugs?
C) Ensure that women and men diagnosed with breast and other cancers who do not have private drug coverage will still be able to have no- or low-cost access to the drugs required in the treatment of breast and other cancers?

Question 4: Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control

The Canadian Breast Cancer Network has been involved in efforts to create the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control from the beginning. The Strategy was developed by the cancer community in response to the increasing number of new cancer cases in Canada. If this trend continues over the next 30 years, the Canadian Cancer Society estimates that almost 6 million
Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer; about 3 million will die from cancer; direct cancer healthcare costs will be more than $176 billion and over $348 billion in tax revenues will be lost because of disability due to cancer.

If your party is elected:

A) When will your government provide funding for the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control, a coordinated and comprehensive plan to fight cancer?
B) What is the amount of funding your government will commit over a five year period to the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control?
C) What components of the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control will be funded?
D) How will your government ensure that the voice of patients and cancer survivors is heard and that patients and cancer survivors are full participants at every level of the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control?
E) How much funding per year will your government allot to patient groups?
F) What will the funding to patient groups be for?

Question 5: The Public Health Agency of Canada

According to its website, the creation of the Public Health Agency of Canada marked the beginning of a new collaboration with provinces and territories on efforts to renew the public health system in Canada and support a sustainable health care system.
focusedssed on more effective efforts to prevent chronic diseases, like cancer and heart disease, prevent injuries and respond to public health emergencies and infectious disease outbreaks, the Public Health Agency of Canada works closely with provinces and territories to keep Canadians healthy and help reduce pressures on the health care system.

If elected, will your government:
A) Ensure that funding allocated to the Public Health Agency of Canada includes a significant, stable and dedicated amount of funding that is not impacted by infectious diseases.
B) Ensure that there is a large amount of permanent, dedicated funding within the Public Health Agency of Canada allocated to chronic diseases, including cancer and breast cancer.
C) Ensure that there is a significant, permanent and dedicated funding within the Public Health Agency of Canada allocated to the prevention of chronic diseases, including cancer and breast cancer.

Sue Richards

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1 Brilliant Observations:

Anonymous Blue Cross of California said...

Great blog I hope we can work to build a better health care system as we are in a major crisis and health insurance is a major aspect to many.

2:24 AM  

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