Vernon-Monashee’s MLA is applauding her provincial government’s plan to eliminate cervical cancer in B.C. and improve the detection, treatment and prevention of cancers going forward.
The province announced a 10-year action plan worth $440 million Friday, Feb. 24. The plan is touted as a way to save lives by expanding cancer care teams and service hours, introducing revised pay structures to attract oncologists and other cancer care professionals, improving cancer screening programs, supporting cancer research, increasing Indigenous patient support positions and supporting patients who have to travel for care from rural communities.
Parliamentary secretary for seniors’ services and long-term care Harwinder Sandhu (local MLA), who has a background in nursing, said the action plan will give British Columbians a better chance at a cancer-free life.
“Like far too many people in the province, I know first-hand that there are few things as devastating as losing a loved one to cancer,” Sandhu said. “That’s why we (are) working hard every day to extend the length and improve quality of life for cancer patients. That way, their families won’t have to experience the same loss and patients will receive life-saving and timely care when they need it.”
In 2021, more than 30,000 people in B.C. were diagnosed with cancer and more than 11,000 died of cancer.
The government is also targeting the elimination of cervical cancer through the plan by expanding HPV vaccinaction programs for young people and implementing modern HPV at-home screening tests,
“Early detection of cancer is critical to reducing the impact of cancer on our population, and successful early detection occurs through cancer screening programs,” said Kelli Paddon, parliamentary secretary for gender equity.
Primier David Eby said nearly everyone in the province has been affected by cancer in some way.
“With this significant investment in cancer care, we can prevent and detect cancer earlier and improve access to treatment. This will help save lives and improve the quality of life of British Columbians, now and into the future,” Eby said.
Minister of Health Adrian Dix said the action plan will help the province achieve a “cancer-free future” for more people.
“We’re investing in research, technology and innovation to strengthen cancer care in B.C. and deliver more innovative, evidence-based care for people when and where they need it,” Dix said.
The plan includes increased funding to cover travel for cancer care, so as to make cancer care more equitable for people living in rural and remote communities. Also, more cancer centres will be added throughout the province.
Dr. Kim Chi, chief medical officer of BC Cancer, said the plan is the largest the province has ever seen.
“It will save lives and address the growing demand for cancer care we have today and for the next 10 years as our population grows and ages,” Chi said.
The plan will add $270 million over three years to BC Cancer’s budget and will also provide a $170 million grant to the BC Cancer Foundation for research.