November 25, 2004

Cancer Care Report Will Help Cut Wait Times, but No Quick Fix, Minister Warns

TORONTO (CP) - A report from Cancer Care Ontario will help guide the province in its long-term goal to reduce treatment wait times, but there's still no quick fix, Health Minister George Smitherman said Thursday.

"The directions put forward are consistent with our government's plan for health care," Smitherman said in a release. "While we are taking action to improve the lives of people with cancer today, our commitment to the fight against cancer is for the long-term. There is no easy, short-term fix."

The report by Cancer Care Ontario, which advises the government on cancer issues, provides recommendations on all aspects of the health-care system that affect cancer care, including public health, drugs, physicians and hospitals.

The provincial government is spending $26.3 million to improve cancer treatment, including $15 million for improved access to cancer drugs, $10 million to increase the volume of cancer surgery this year and $1.3 million to provide more radiation treatment at Toronto's Princess Margaret Hospital.

"Cancer Care Ontario's report provides valuable insights and advice for strengthening cancer services for Ontario patients," Smitherman said.

"Improving patients' access to high quality cancer care by reducing wait times and detecting and treating cancer earlier is a key part of our government's plan for health care."

Smitherman announced last week that the province would attack the wait-time issue with $107 million in federal money.

The cash, part of the new federal-provincial health deal reached earlier this fall, will pay for hundreds more cancer and cataract surgeries, cardiac procedures, hip and knee replacements, and MRI and CT exams, he said.